Easily generate brochures, payslips, contracts and more with Zoho Creator’s Custom Record Summary function

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Recently, our facilities team was looking for a simple way to manage purchase orders. They decided to try the Custom Record Summary feature in Zoho Creator and instantly, the tedious task of generating and managing purchase orders was a thing of the past. Needless to say, they were able to retire the old time-consuming purchase order system and process. And, more importantly, now it just takes a few clicks for our facilities team to create beautiful and accurate purchase orders (Print/PDF Version).

Sample Templates created using Custom Record Summary

In case you missed it, the Custom Record Summary was recently released in Zoho Creator.  This versatile feature allows you to create nearly any type of customized template for your business. Once the template is created, Zoho Creator automatically populates the template with your data.

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Work Smart with the Resume Inbox

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Recruiters face many challenges, but none as painstaking as processing resumes. Their inbox is always cluttered with a pile of resumes from various sources including candidates, employee referrals, job boards, vendors, etc. Now if you’re a recruiter, you’ll know exactly what I mean! The best news for you would be a parsing tool that can process resumes directly from your mailbox onto the database. That’s exactly why Zoho Recruit is excited to introduce – the Resume Inbox.

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Cluttered mailboxes, hereafter, become a thing of past. The Resume Inbox can be configured in a few easy steps. Read more

Secure Cloud Storage and Document Sharing with Zoho Docs

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Gone are the days when file security meant locking the drawer to your file cabinet to protect your sensitive documents. As we all know, today, most of our documents are created and saved online – but are they more secure now than in old file cabinets? Well, with the right precautions, they certainly can be.
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Cloud storage, online document sharing, and real-time collaboration are just some of the new document management technologies that offer businesses the ability to quickly and accurately generate professional documents that can be shared with colleagues, business partners and customers. Modern cloud document management and collaboration tools have taken the speed of business to another level. Cloud or online applications in a simple sense is the ability for users to access applications and store data from anywhere, at anytime, without having to install the application on their machines. A simple to understand cloud application is Facebook. You log into Facebook, add comments to your timeline, upload photos and interact with your friends and logout. But, the data remains on Facebook long after you logout, because the application and the data resides on Facebook servers, “in the cloud”.

While the benefits and productivity gains of cloud-based document management are apparent, the question of document security may not be. But, with some simple tips and best practices, businesses and users can take advantage of these modern storage and collaboration tools with the comfort of knowing that their documents are also secure.

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The Secret of Effective Project Management

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Let me get straight to the point. The Secret of Effective Project Management is finding the right balance between managing too little and managing too much. And in order to understand how to walk this elusive middle path, let us first take a look at the extremes.

In a quest to give their team a free hand and keep things moving fast, some managers end up taking an over simplified approach. When they do this, they lose track of important aspects of work. When their team would want their guidance, they wouldn’t know it and hence would not be available to them. As a result, the team would end up heading in a different direction from the one they want to steer it in. On the other hand, other managers wanting to stay in charge make their processes too sophisticated. They fill their work places with rules, regulations and policies. A large part of the workday is spent logging what is done, getting permissions and just adhering to protocol. And all this makes the team’s progress a lot slower than what it can be.

Let us examine this phenomenon with an example. Say a manager needs to work with a team of designers to create a new website for his company. An over-simplifying manager gives the team an idea of what he wants, agrees on a deadline and disappears till then. He believes, he has given his designers a lot of freedom. But when the work is done, he realizes many things don’t fall in place. He wants to project his business as long-serving, stable and trustworthy and the heavy use of fire-engine-red and sporty fonts don’t really reinforce that.  He realizes with much despair that the site needs lots of rework and this is good news to nobody.

The manager who overdoes things, creates a detailed specs document that specifies permitted image and font sizes, graphics to text ratio, page sizes and a long list of dos and don’ts. She wants the team to log the time spent on each file they create and also send her daily reports on progress. And the team feels it would be easier to write a program that parses through these specs and dumps a matching template than create one themselves! Read more

Beyond Corporate Walls: Announcing External Networks and other New features

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We all know, organisations are made of people and processes. People play an essential role in getting things done. Every business, be it small or large have diverse goals and various internal and external stake-holders involved in the decision-making process. The business discussions and decision-making process is often complex. And the work certainly doesn’t just end with just discussions. Implementing work involves an execution plan, supervision and control to achieve the desired goal. Apart from employees, business alliances outside the company can also add value to attain this goal. And the key to successful implementation and innovation is better with collaboration involving these people too.

External Network

Cultivating External Collaboration:

Therefore, it is imperative to choose the right mode to collaborate. Understanding this transformation in the collaboration space, we’ve developed external networks. External networks are designed to enable businesses to extend collaboration capabilities to their partners, suppliers, agents, franchises or contract workers. Zoho Connect’s external networks are no different from the internal network for employees. We have made the interface consistent for both the internal and external networks. With external networks, businesses can leverage the collective knowledge and creativity of partners or vendors and arrive at smarter solutions.

Additionally, we’ve also added newer features to Zoho Connect to enhance collaboration capabilities for businesses. Chatroom, events, network analytics, AD integration are the new features.

Focused Conversations:

Zoho Connect believes in making team communication more focused and actionable. Keeping this in mind, we have added a chat room feature to groups. Chat rooms can be created within groups to hold real- time conversation on specific topics.

Time Management:

Calendars are staple in time management. Users can create events, send invites, track RSVPs of invitees. Don’t miss a single event in your company, stay up to date on upcoming events. We’ve also integrated with Eventbrite so that users can create social network for events, thereby aiding collaboration capabilities for the event.

Measuring Engagement:

It is important for community managers or network admins to understand how the users engage within the network. Network Analytics allows the admins of the network  to measure the overall health of the network, engagement at the group and company level.

Customisation:

Zoho Connect allows administrators of the network to customise the network to match the uniqueness of the company brand. The headers and footers are customisable and can be customised to reflect the look and feel of the brand.

Centralising User Access:

Most businesses leverage Microsoft’s Active Directory to centralize and to standardise user access to networks and other resources. Users can now directly login to their Zoho connect  network with their common organisation credential. It is advantageous in terms of increasing efficiency through convenience while improving access and boosting user adoption.

With the release of external networks, we’ve revamped our pricing plans too. We’ve made it simple.This new plan we believe will reduce the cost significantly to companies that work with a large pool of external users.

Simplified Licensing:

You no longer will have to pay per user for both internal or external network.  You can access most of our prime features like private groups, custom apps, document management and chat rooms in the Free plan itself. The additional features such as multiple admins, post moderation, custom domain, header and footer customisation and Active Directory sync will be under Enterprise plan priced at $49 per network.

To know more and how to use these features, join us at Zoholics: Productivity and Collaboration 2014 event at Pleasanton, California.

3 Sales & Marketing Tactics SaaS Vendors Need To Kill

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SaaS used to stand up for something much bigger than just software delivered over the internet.

At its inception, SaaS was the anti-thesis of big, stodgy software companies: IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP. Where big software companies had hefty prices, SaaS was affordable. Where big companies had convoluted pricing licenses (Microsoft’s Licensing, anyone?), SaaS promised straightforward per-user pricing. Where big software companies required upfront long-term contracts leading to “shelfware,” SaaS promised paying for only what you truly needed.

As both a SaaS customer and a SaaS vendor, I want to talk about three tactics where I see the industry veering off course.

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Say goodbye to unproductive workplace practices and build a culture of collaboration with Project Management apps – Part 2

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projects_blog2meeraThis is the second part of a 2-part blog series. Read the first part of the series here.

The myth of multitasking.

When you’re trying to get multiple things done with different sets of people, it might seem easy to multitask by doing everything together. But this can be counterproductive because your attention gets split between activities. You’ll take much longer to complete each activity, and this can negatively impact your overall output and quality of work. Several independent psychological researchers have established that multitasking results in reduced efficiency due to cognitive ‘switching’ costs.

Switching from a task before you complete it also causes the Ziegarnic effect – the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about unfinished tasks. The only way to resolve the cognitive dissonance that comes from a lack of closure on an unfinished task is by completing that task.

A good project management app is one that lets you simplify complex projects so that you spend enough attention and energy on each task.

To simplify complex projects, you can organize them according to a hierarchy of easily manageable units such as milestones, task lists and tasks. Split your tasks into the simplest sub-tasks that can be easily completed before you move on to the next task. You can also set task dependencies to help identify and complete dependent tasks. And of course, the sense of completion that comes from finishing these tasks can help avoid the Ziegarnic effect!

Encourage everyone in your team to restrict their focus to completing one thing at a time – complete one task or participate in one discussion or just catch up with activity streams in one project portal. Finish any one thing before you move on to the next.

Treat different project portals like separate rooms – you cannot be in more than one at the same time.

Resist the temptation of switching to another tab or project portal before you’ve completed what you wanted to do. Read more