Creating Better Experience in Zoho Projects

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We evaluated the existing user interface, sketched out different designs, discussed the merits and demerits of each to have a flexible user interface that is easy to use. After an extensive design journey with many iterations,
finally arrived at the new version which we’ve shipped. We are very happy with the outcome and believe it simplifies your use of Zoho Projects.

Ease of use
This goal is obvious, but what exactly does ease of use mean in the context of a task entry ?

As an example, for regular task entry, one very important aspect of “ease of use” is that to enter or edit a task requires very few clicks. This is something done over and over each day and any extra click quickly turns into an annoyance for the user. That is why the new contextual pop-ups are designed to keep the number of clicks to a minimum in Zoho Projects.
Our contextual pop-ups offer a powerful and an easy way to enter tasks, create events in calendar, log meetings, associate documents/forums and do more right from the same page in matter of few seconds.
Here goes the snapshot showing a contextual pop-up implemented in task details view

Contextual Pop-ups in Zoho Projects

Let me walk through the important changes implemented in Zoho Projects with focus on simplicity and ease of use :


Customize your columns in task view


Are there certain columns in task view that you don’t need to see each time you log in? For this, use the new Customize Columns
feature to choose the columns you’d like to hide. Simply click the new ‘Customize Columns’ link and select the columns you’d like to hide and you’re done.
Easily distinguish attached files in tasks

Before, there is no way to differentiate tasks with associated files or forums from the rest. Now, the newly introduced notes with attachment icon quickly helps you to distinguish the tasks with associated files/forums from others at the blink of an eye.


Gain more visibility with gantt charts


Great that you can drag and edit gantt charts, but should be able to drag into the next month rather than stop at the end of the current month. With this update, comes the custom period which allows you to view and edit tasks beyond current month. Isn’t it cool? Best of all, gain deep insights about the project progress with all tasks (open/closed) chart view.
Allocate tasks from resource charts


Want to allocate a task right from the resource chart view? Just click on a grey bar against a particular team member’s view and a contextual pop-up gets displayed. With this, enter umpteen tasks right from the resource charts and save your time.

Learn more about other features from What’s New


We see that we did most things right. But as always, we realize that there is room for improvement.

And remember, every time you send a feedback, you’re triggering us to work towards making your experience the best with Zoho Projects.

Log into Zoho’s Project Management Software
, play around and share your views about the new changes as comments here or mail us at
support@zohoprojects.com

Zoho Projects In Your Pocket: Our Web App is Here

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Your projects don’t stop just because you’re away from your computer. And now, with the new Zoho Projects Web App you can stay connected with your projects and your team wherever you are.

The Zoho Projects Web App allows you to access all of your projects while on the go. You are able to see the Project Stream and see what everyone on the team has been up to – finished tasks, new posts, comments, wiki pages and any other activities from the members of your team.

You can also go in and see the tasks that you have open and update their status, any notes and mark them as finished when you are done. How’s that for giving your team real-time info? And if something new comes up while you are out and about, you can also of course add a new task right from your phone.

Our web app is available starting today – and all you need is a Zoho Projects account (including the Free edition). Once you’ve setup your account just head over to m.zoho.com using your phone’s browser (iPhone or Android), and start getting things done, even while on the go.

Rodrigo

 

Just In: Resource Utilization & Editable Gantt charts

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Employees are considered the most valuable assets of an organization. The ability to deploy employees effectively against projects enables organizations to utilize and maximize employee productivity. For this, project managers need an efficient system to place the appropriate employees in the right teams at the right time.

Project managers often face questions like how the work to be performed by a team is to be captured, who estimates the amount of effort required, where this information is to be stored and reviewed for accuracy etc. There are no magic shortcuts. You need the right tool that can capture and show the resources utilized within or across all projects of your organization.

The latest update of Zoho Projects offers this crucial feature called Resource Utilization chart, that accurately captures all of the above in a single place. With this chart, you can now get the most out of your valuable resources, i.e., Your Team,to accomplish critical tasks that are overdue by effectively realigning members based on their skills. You can also quickly gain insights into whether your resources are being under, over or optimally utilized in a matter of few minutes.



And…Refreshing new editable Gantt charts!


Before this update
: The Gantt chart in Zoho Projects has always been a challenge for us, since everyone used it in their own unique ways. Previously, it didn’t have enough room to capture more details about tasks. And printing the chart was a bit of a hassle when it was loaded with more data.


Here’s what we did:

We reworked the entire Gantt chart design to make it more appealing and useful for all. And of course, made it easier for printing too.

Best of all
, now you can simply drag the task bar in either direction and edit your Gantt chart. Isn’t that cool? But it doesn’t stop there. You can also export as PDF and send it across to your team.

We’ve also put together a step-by-step guide to get started – Gantt & Resource utilization.

User Access:

Resource Utilization view is accessible for portal owner, joint admins and project managers. While the editable Gantt is available for all user roles except for client users.


What editions are these features available?

Here’s the link to the latest revised Plans and Pricing.

a. Resource utilization / Edit Gantt charts are available for all Premium and Enterprise customers i.e., $299 & $599 annual plans and $35 and $80 monthly plans. It is also available for existing Valuepack 3 customers.

b. The Reports tab, which includes resource utilization and editable Gantt charts (across all projects) is available only for Enterprise customers i.e., $599 annual plan and $80 monthly plan.

Here’s short video explaining the new Gantt chart and Resource utilization features.

We hope this round of updates makes it more useful and a little easier on the eyes of everyone who uses Zoho Projects. Play around with the new reporting features available at http://www.zoho.com/projects/ and let us know your views at
support@zohoprojects.com
.

Multiple Zoho Products Win the Trust of Secure Link Services

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We are quite excited to present Mr. Julian Weber, Managing Director of the software development firm –

Secure Link Services Ltd
. In this post, he shares his experience about how Zoho became his go-to software vendor for ALL his business needs.


A little about Secure Link Services

Secure Link Services is a software development firm with offices in Zurich, Switzerland and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Launched in December 2010, we currently have 15 full time employees and extend our team with more than 10 contractors, partners and other third-party collaborators. Our mission is to deliver superior quality, speed and reliability in software development, and we intend to set market-leading standards in the globalized markets of information technology.


Secure Link Services’ Challenge

When we chose the software to underpin our operations, we had to take a number of factors into account. First, we considered price and usability. We are a startup company, so our administrative requirements are limited to the industry standard and every franc, taka and dollar counts. Another related consideration was, whether to buy the applications and run them on our own or whether to rent the applications and let someone else run them in a software-as-a-service model.

In addition to price, the other factors included 1) how to best support employees in Switzerland and Bangladesh, many of whom are constantly traveling and 2) how responsive vendors are to customer support issues, including fixing and upgrading their software.


Zoho Solution

The first Zoho application we used was


Zoho Projects
.

For two and a half years, I had been using Basecamp, but it was expensive and I didn’t like the UI. So I switched to Zoho Projects and found it to be one of the greatest tools for both admin projects and engineering related ones. My initial experience with Zoho encouraged us to adopt Zoho applications for other administrative purposes, and today we use Zoho Books, Zoho CRM and Zoho People as well as Zoho Projects.

Zoho Projects – As a startup, we had to create a lot of operating documents from scratch – our code of conduct, employee manuals, things of that nature. So within Zoho Projects, we created a project for each document and assigned tasks to the administrative teams. This way, we were able to report on the progress of each document, track who was doing what, and identify and address any problem areas. We do the same thing to maintain the code and content of our website, write a brochure, and perform just about any other administrative task. We even use Zoho Projects to manage marketing campaigns that go beyond the scope of Zoho CRM in terms of detailed planning, execution and management.








Zoho CRM

I  had been using Salesforce in another organization before, but Zoho CRM seems to be more flexible and definitely is more affordable. What you find in Zoho CRM is almost the same functionality as in Salesforce and it follows the Dominant Design in the CRM market.

Right now, we use contacts, accounts and leads exclusively, but we have assessed various other functionalities which we will soon use, as our marketing activities grow.



Zoho Books

This is really outstanding. We evaluated a number of online accounting applications in addition to Zoho Books, but we really like the processes behind Zoho Books. It’s very easy to use, very intuitive, e.g., the “Money In” and “Money Out” tabs in the UI.

The usability from complex bank transactions, creditcard handling to automated invoicing and estimating is really strong. We also like the support of multiple currencies in Zoho Books, and the customizable document templates are nice. Additionally, the reports give us a clear picture of our finances, taxes, and our business overall.


Zoho People
 
– We use Zoho People to keep track of information on our employees and
our third-party contractors. For employees, we track details related to
demographics, employment history, performance assessment, salary data,
emergency contacts, and other information. And we use Zoho People to
provide monthly salary, allowance and expense reports. We fully
customized Zoho People by adding our own approval workflows and custom
fields so we can adapt to the conditions of the Bangladeshi
jurisdiction.


Zoho’s Impact

The decision to work in the cloud with Zoho was initially motivated by cost and accessibility. But over time, working online with Zoho has proven to be a superior, long-term approach for us. In addition to the savings advantage, Zoho gives us software that’s easy to use and, if we want to modify it, easy to customize. The applications are updated constantly, not every year or couple of years. And as we grow, all we have to do is create an account for new employees, and they have access to the full Zoho suite.

Another area in which we are seeing a big impact is administrative efficiencies. Here, Zoho Books and Zoho People stand out most significantly.

By using Zoho Books, we save roughly 40 percent of a full-time employee. We’ve basically cut our accounting time in half, particularly the time it took to track expenses, receipts and other records. Likewise, Zoho People saves another 25 percent of a full-time employee, largely because of its self-service aspect.




If you too would like to share your Zoho success story,


connect with us on

Facebook
 and

Twitter
.




Cloudcamper picks Zoho Projects for Cloud based Collaboration

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Cloudcamper
 provides cloud computing solutions and online software to small and medium business as well as to divisions within larger enterprises. The company is a reseller for both Zoho and Google Apps. Cloudcamper has its main office in Oostende, Belgium as well as five remote offices, each staffed by one of the company’s five partners.


The distributed nature of Cloudcamper skill sets, mirrors the distributed nature of the company’s work force. However, when a client needs a cloud solution that requires the talents of several Cloudcamper partners, the company has to act as a single, unified organization.

To that end, the company needed a way to coordinate the activities of its partners and its contract developers working on any given client project.

 The Zoho Solution
 For Cloudcamper, Zoho Projects provides cloud-based collaboration that supports the company’s structure and work style.

“If we didn’t use

Zoho Projects
, our job would be hard. We’d have to use
a shared spreadsheet or something to get an overview of all our
projects,” says Philip Debaere, managing partner at Cloudcamper. “Now, we open Zoho Projects and in one view, we
see all our open projects and their status. And the integration of the
other Zoho applications means that, for instance, I can send a project
to a customer in Zoho CRM and pull an invoice from Zoho Projects in Zoho
Invoice. Those features are really strong and well executed.”

Cloudcamper relies on Zoho Projects to track the time, partners and contract developers spend on tasks. Debaere and his partners review these time logs to calculate the profitability of projects and to uncover problems in project delivery. The information may be used to adjust prices to more accurately reflect time investments.

The Zoho Projects Gmail Contextual Gadget keeps Cloudcamper users in their Gmail user interface but lets them create a project, transform an email into an actionable task, assign tasks, and more.


Read more
 on how Cloudcamper benefited from using Zoho Projects.


Want to add Zoho Projects to your Google Apps? Click the button below.


ClearDrop’s Preferred Project Management Solution – Zoho Projects

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We’ve been talking about how various businesses choose Zoho Projects for their project management needs. Today, we’d like to talk about ClearDrop, a value-added reseller offering business consulting and implementation of Openbravo ERP. They were in search of a project management solution that can
  • quickly be learned and easily used by a hybrid team of distributed developers
  • scale to handle the company’s growth

ClearDrop evaluated several client-side and cloud-based project management solutions including 37signals’ Basecamp. Ultimately, the company selected Zoho Projects.

ClearDrop’s Challenge

“I like to keep things simple,” said Jan Hendrik Mensen, CTO and
consulting partner at ClearDrop. “We can’t afford to complicate our
developers’ lives with a project management tool that has too many
options and settings. All those bells and whistles are actually
user-unfriendly and just complicate things and clutter the screen. We
need a lightweight tool that does all the essentials and lets us manage
all of our projects with minimum effort.”​

For ClearDrop, those essential project management features include
logging and tracking bugs, tracking project progress, setting and
assigning tasks and milestones, and managing the overall project
workflow. And those features must be presented in a streamlined,
easy-to-use interface.

Why Zoho Projects?

Broader Suite of online applications

In addition to satisfying ClearDrop’s list of essential feature demands, Zoho Projects offered other, distinct advantages. It is part of Zoho’s broader online application suite that includes Zoho Creator Helpdesk and Zoho Reports, both of which ClearDrop expects to use going forward.

Google Apps Integration

Another key advantage of Zoho Projects, it integrates with Google Apps.

“The Google Apps integration makes it really easy for us to add users and give them access to Zoho Projects using their Google accounts,” said Mensen.

How ClearDrop uses Zoho Projects?

For now, ClearDrop uses the Tasks and Milestones features in Zoho Projects to keep projects and deliverables organized and manageable in a single, easy-to-access location. Project milestones give ClearDrop full control of what its developers are doing and how the various projects are progressing. The company also uses the Wiki, and of course, the Bugs module too.

“We’re in software development, so we need to be able to log bugs. That’s really important to us, and Zoho Projects is one of the few tools that combines project management with bug tracking,” said Mensen.

Zoho CRM Usage

ClearDrop also uses Zoho CRM. Mensen likes the fact that he can test the application for free yet still access most of the key CRM functions. As the company expands its use of Zoho CRM, Mensen expects to easily scale from the free to a paid version of Zoho CRM. “I like how Zoho enables small businesses to just use a freebie,” said Mensen, “and if you grow and have the budget, it’s not a big step up to a paid plan.”

Zoho Projects Impact

“Software development projects can really be a pain, especially when you’re working with offshore teams,” said Mensen. “As a manager, you need to feel that you control the situation. You need updates. You need visibility. And Zoho Projects gives you all that. I can go to my dashboard and see the latest updates, so I know what’s going on and what my team is doing. Now, we don’t have to worry about being in control. With Zoho Projects, we’re in control.”

Read more about ClearDrop and Zoho Projects here.

If you would also like to share your project management success story, do contact support[a]zohoprojects.com or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

7 Reasons For Self-Employed Professionals To Choose Zoho Projects

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In a recent article titled ‘

Seven Keys To Productivity In The Human Cloud
‘, 

Business Insider
shared a set of productivity tips for independent consultants and freelancers; self-employed professionals who generally work from their home offices, collaborating with multiple clients and juggling multiple projects. According to the article, these tips should be used by professionals in leveraging the power of cloud-based tools for attracting and delivering better business. We offer one such cloud-based tool, Zoho Projects, which is ideal for this purpose especially since its features match all 7 criteria suggested by the article.

We’ll take Business Insider’s 7 criteria into account, to explain why Zoho Projects is the perfect choice as a tool for self-employed professionals:

#1 In accordance with tip 1, Zoho Projects is a 

Collaborative workspace which functions as a conference room where clients can easily review documents, mock-ups, share comments or check on project status
. Project members can

easily add and share project-related documents
, spreadsheets, videos, etc from within the Project. These documents appear in the document tab where they can then be reviewed by clients.

#2 Tip 2 suggests that you use ‘ an end-to-end project management solution that gives you integrated, seamless access to all aspects of your projects ‘ and that doesn’t require you to login separately to a document sharing program such as Google Docs. With Zoho projects, you get

inbuilt access
to task management, bug tracking, time tracking, project reports, meetings, project wiki and more. You can also upload documents directly from Zoho Docs or Google Docs. Read more about the Google Apps Integration that also lets you add users from Google Apps, add tasks and events in Google Calendar and view project information in Google Mail. 

#3 Tip 3 stresses the significance of staying organized by maintaining all communications, documents, tasks and milestones in a central place and of selecting a solution that supports email collaboration. Zoho Projects includes separate tabs for organizing and maintaining all your documents, tasks and milestones within your project portal. It also includes powerful email collaboration that lets you add new tasks, forums, documents, comments and status via email.

#4 Clients should be empowered to find answers to their questions and not have to rely on back-and-forth communication, says Tip 4. Zoho Projects makes all these answers easy to find with a comprehensive project dashboard that lets you view status of tasks at a glance, and keeps documents, milestones and conversations all in one central location making them easy to track. Another aspect of Zoho Projects that enables easy access to answers is the visual representation of project and task status in the Projects Reports feature. The inbuilt forums and Project Wiki also help in quickly accessing information or answers.

#5 Tip 5 talks about the importance of supporting a flexible work environment that makes it easy to invite people, control access limitations and track work-hours and expenses. Zoho Projects offers all of that flexibility; inviting users is easy, client access controls and project user access controls are seperately defined and timesheets allow project users to log their hours for tracking and billing.

#6 Invoicing, can be better aligned to purchase output if done directly from within the project workspace, says Tip 6. And of course, Zoho Projects comes with inbuilt timesheet and billing software that lets project users log and track time, record billable hours, generate customized billing reports, export timesheets and create invoices to bill your clients.

#7 Tip 7 explains why maintaining a consistent branded look with logo and colors, is important so that clients can be made to feel comfortable about your Project workspace presence. With Zoho Projects, a project team can create that consistent branded look by adding their own logo, customizing the layout, changing timezones and setting the language according to their preference.

So, if you’re a self-employed professional, you now have above 7 reasons to start using Zoho Projects. Here’s what one such professional, Raphe Patmore, experienced when he started using Zoho Projects:


My client had never used Zoho before. Once I’d set up the whole project on Zoho I shared it with him. His response after visiting Zoho was, “I knew straight away this was going to be a well managed project”

Read what some of our other customers said about Zoho Projects or share your own experience with us by writing in to support at zohoprojects dot com. If you liked this post, please share it with those who you think will find it useful.