If you're looking for a new cloud-based solution for your business, you may have come into contact with Zoho. Zoho is a comprehensive online suite of tools that takes the standard groupware concept and tosses in a handful of extra, business-centric, tools to make it one of the most powerful suites you'll find. Once you've signed up for your Zoho account, you will find out just how much they have to offer. But out of the list of tools on the menu, which should you immediately try to help your small business grow and run more efficiently?
Let's take a glance at five of the Zoho tools that are targeted especially for small businesses. Each of these addon applications can be used from anywhere (with a web browser and a network connection). All of these tools can be used on the free account with limitations (each app will have different limitations). You can upgrade each app to different plans to expand beyond the free version.
Nearly every small business can benefit from a Customer Resource Management tool. And Zoho has you covered in that area as well. The Zoho CRM enables you to manage: Leads, contacts, accounts, and activities. You can create tasks, events, and calls. With a handy dashboard-like tool called Pulse, you can easily follow leads, contacts, and potentials (you can even adjust the "Pulse rating" which informs the Pulse tool at what interval to alert you if something is not updated. The free account will get you three users and limited features. The cost of the CRM upgrades are: Professional $12.00/month (unlimited users and extra features such as mass mailing and role-based security) and Enterprise $25.00/month (unlimited users and extra features such as group-level security and auto-responders).
Meeting is a collaboration tool that allows you to set up meetings with users and then display your desktop to the attendees. You can also allow certain members of the meeting to take control of your desktop. This is a great way to do long-distance training, show off a desktop product, or whatever is necessary. All accounts offer unlimited meeting duration, session reports, embed meetings within your web site, and the ability to switch presenters. With the free account, you get one host and one participant, The Professional account is $173.00/year with an additional monthly cost, depending upon how many users you need.
Recruit is an applicant tracking system that allows you to keep track of your applications, hires, and more. Although Zoho Recruit is targeted for agency recruitment firms and corporate recruiters and talent acquisition departments, it can easily be applied to any business that has a fast turnover rate or hires a lot of temporary (or seasonal) employees. Recruit offers: Sourcing and resume management, client and contact management, job posting, resume parsing, work flow and candidate experience. The pricing for Recruit is free for one recruiter. Standard will cost $12.00/month per recruiter. The Standard edition also includes branding features, templates, and bulk updates.
Invoice brings to your business a core function for small businesses. Without invoices, you don't get paid. Zoho invoice allows you to manage estimates, invoices, customers, recurring invoices, billable expenses, non-billable expenses, products, and more. You can create incredibly custom invoices and email or print/snail mail to clients. The Free Invoice account offers five customers and one user; unlimited invoices and estimates; and one project. The Standard plan ($150.00 USD/year) offers five hundred customers and three users; unlimited invoices and estimates; and unlimited projects. The Professional plan ($300.00 USD/year) offers unlimited customers and users; unlimited invoices and estimates; and unlimited projects.
Reports allows you to generate dashboards, graphs, and other tools to help you analyze your business data. You can import data from spreadsheets and databases, or input directly into empty spreadsheets/databases or create from templates (all within the tool itself) and then generate the reports from there. Reports allows you to: Analyze profits, trends; generate powerful dashboards with custom features; view performance measurements; extract and view OLAP data. The Free plan allows you two users, five databases, 10,000 rows, three query tables, and three scheduled imports. There are four paid plans (Standard - $50.00/month, Professional— $90.00/month, Professional Plus - $140.00/month, and Enterprise - $495.00/month). Each plan has an increasing amount of data allowed as well as extra features.
If you're looking for a cloud-based groupware tool that can help you grow your business with little cost and even less headache, take a look at Zoho and the additional apps they offer. With the addition of these tools, your business can expand and become far more efficient and reliable than ever.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.