Should You Live in a Zoho World?

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Zoho provides a host of products ranging from CRM to accounting. While they work together well and are cheap, are they the best solutions?

If you are shopping around for business management software, there are two main ways to approach the process.

You can look for separate software for each area of management, trying to find the best option available in your price range. Or, you can try to find one provider that offers software for every area of business management, in hopes of streamlining business operations as a whole by managing everything in one place.

One of the best-known providers that offers a complete business management suite of software, is Zoho. We will look at what it is like to live in a Zoho world and ask the question, is the Zoho world right for your business?

Related Article: Small Business Apps Guaranteed to Make Your Life Easier

Cost: All Signs Point to Saved Dollars

Zoho, in most cases, is as cheap or cheaper than their competitors for similar featured plans. In regards to management areas, Zoho has a basic software package that is available for free (helpdesk, CRM, Invoicing, etc).

Although Zoho’s free solutions are pretty limited in features, they generally work for small business owners who only need an entry-level software solution. For a more advanced system, you can pay for Zoho’s premium plans.

Even when paying for premium plans, Zoho is still on-par or cheaper than the competition. For example, Zoho CRM’s Enterprise plan is loaded with features including email marketing, territory management, sales forecasting, social lead capture, auto-responders, purchase orders, web-to-lead forms, workflow automations, and much more, all for around $35/agent/month.

The features are similar to Salesforce’s Enterprise plan, which starts at $125/user/month. To learn more about Zoho CRM pricing/features and to see how they stack up against other CRM systems, see the Fit Small Business’ Best CRM Software Guide.

So, if finding a cheap solution is important to you, living in a Zoho world will suit you just fine.

Related Infographic: Driving Towards Closing a Deal Using CRM Software

Zoho Books Demo screen via ZDNetImages via ZDNet

Features: Rich with Features, But Lacks Several Key Ones

If you use Zoho’s free plans, the features are often pretty basic, as is the case with many free options. However, if you are willing to upgrade to one of Zoho’s premium plans, you can get features comparable to other software service providers. In some cases, Zoho lacks important functionality.

For example, Zoho Books, Zoho’s accounting solution, has some sweet features for the $24/month price tag. You can manage all five types of accounts, auto-import bank statements, auto-categorize transactions, do invoicing/payment processing, time-track, manage inventory and even work with multiple currencies. But, Zoho Books does not provide any payroll features, which is a huge negative for any businesses with employees.

But, Zoho has been taking positive steps to fill some of their feature gaps. For example, Zoho Invoice, lacked features such as automatic billing and snail-mail invoicing. However, just recently, Zoho has added those features to their invoicing service. So, the best thing is to look at the service you are interested in, see what features you need, and make sure Zoho has the key ones you desire for your business.

Ease of Use: Generally Simple and Efficient, But Ultimately  Depends on Which Software You are Using

In the majority of cases, Zoho’s products are user friendly. However, it is greatly dependent on the product, and there can be a bit of a learning curve for more complicated solutions/tasks.

Zoho invoice and Books are the easiest to use solutions in their respective industries. However, with Support and CRM, both more complicated applications in general, the learning curve was much steeper.

When using multiple Zoho’s products, there are more complications from having to configure and setup the integrations. But, by dedicating more time to the initial setup, you have the potential to save more time in the back-end of your business. So, it really depends on your individual needs.

Integrations—The Zoho World is More Exclusive Than Inclusive

Zoho is meant to be an office suite, meaning that its products are ultimately designed to be used in tandem with one another. That’s why it is not too surprising that Zoho’s number of integrations are quite a bit fewer than other software solutions.

Let’s use Zoho Books as an example. Zoho Books integrates with the Google App Suite, Zoho CRM, Temponia (Time Tracking), Stripe, Paypal, and Square (POS). Zoho Books is noticeably missing integrations with other project management software, ecommerce solutions, payroll providers, and API creators such as Zapier. If you are wanting to integrate with multiple third-party applications, Zoho is not recommended.

Related Article: Features of Accounting Software

The Verdict—Is the Zoho World Right for Your Business?

With most small business questions, the answer to this one is dependent on how you are hoping to use Zoho’s products and which specific products you are using. If you only want to limit your use to one product, using a non-Zoho product would be simpler.

By using a different software, you will have much more overall functionality, via access to other third-party apps that Zoho does not integrate with. But, if you have checked out three or four of Zoho’s products and want to use them all, then Zoho is a great answer. Their true power is in its self-integration. Instead of trying to figure out how to connect/integrate four separate softwares, pay four separate bills and manage four separate interfaces, Zoho allows you to manage each aspect via one provider.

In most cases, small business owners using three to four services will not sacrifice much functionality if they are willing to pay for premium features. However, there are times, as with Zoho Books and payroll, where you might get a better service/feature-set by going with a different solution.

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