Review of Zoho Projects: Project Management Tool

Zoho Projects is an online task and project management tool. As a Web-based project planning tool, it provides a way for the small business owner or manager to plan, manage, and track a project from start to finish.

Benefits of using Zoho Projects

If you have been seeking an affordable project management solution, Zoho Project is one to consider.  It is software-as-a-service, meaning you can sign up instantly and there is nothing to download.  Pricing starts at free for one project, with varying price levels up to $80/month for unlimited users/projects.

Keep in mind that Zoho offers an entire suite of tools including Zoho CRM, Zoho Invoice, and so forth, so you can tie these tools together if you find you like one of them and need more. Indeed, they won’t let you forget all the connections between apps as you’ll see a range of soft-selling everywhere you go. It isn’t invasive, but logical. If you’re using the Zoho Projects tool, you might also want other business services.

What I like about it (and what could be better)

The first step is to jump on the tour that Zoho Projects offers.  This simple tour is not a screencast or video, but screenshots.  That means you can quickly see what is involved to define a task, upload a document, schedule a meeting, add a project user, and so forth.  It is fast and easy to see what you are signing up for with this screenshot tour process. I liked that.

Zoho Project dashboard

The above image is not the first stop on the official tour, but it was the main dashboard that I thought conveyed the most about what you receive with Zoho Projects. Look at the blue tabs across the top.

Zoho may not like the comparison, but I found this dashboard had a Facebook-like feeling to it. That’s a positive and a negative for some people. The main dashboard, like most SaaS services, centers on what’s happening in your universe. So, all of the updates that people made to a project are summarized here. All of the milestones and tasks are right there for you to see.

I was inspired to test a small project of mine. I put in the project tasks, set milestones, and looked at how I might share the details with my small team of volunteer advisors.  Here is what it looks like:

Sales Rescue Zoho Project Dashboard view

The registration form is simple and fast, and took mere seconds to sign up. I didn’t even have to wait for the confirmation email to get going, which I found rather thoughtful. It did softly warn me that it might cancel my account if I didn’t confirm, however.

The dashboard is a little less flashy than many web-based applications and that’s fine by me as I’m interested in simplicity and speed so I can get more done. That’s probably true for you, too.

Zoho obviously focuses on that. I will take my Facebook metaphor one step further and say it is “Facebook meets Google” in terms of design and functionality. But, unlike other software-as-a-service applications, Zoho does not allow you to customize your dashboard. There is no drag and drop option to move a box of information that may be more important to you into a better location. You have tabs across the top that show everything at once. It isn’t bad, just less flexible for changing the look of the site to my idiosyncrasies, I mean, preferences.

Something I didn’t prefer about Zoho was that I assumed I could get back to Projects by simply going to Zoho.com. Once there on the main page, it asks me for my username and password, but that takes me to a new, free, email account with Zoho that must automatically get created and did not direct me to Projects.

In fact, it gave me no link to get to Projects, but it did give me links to many other Zoho services. So you need to keep that distinct URL from Zoho Projects that comes in your signup email, so you can get back to that sign-on page easily. This is a distinct URL that includes your company name in it. The system didn’t assume that I might already be an existing user when I went to the Projects page on my own, nor did it offer me the standard “Already a User, Sign In Here” type of link. Again, keep that unique portal address that they email you and you’ll be fine.

When you do get to that main Zoho Projects login, you will see your dashboard from the meta-view, meaning no particular project is selected, and you have to select your project from either the drop down menu (circled in red) or from a list to the far right (not shown).

What is nice about this is you get the “world view” of all the projects you have in motion. It also has a small box asking you if you want to import a Microsoft Project (circled in red) formatted file (.mpp or .mpx). I used MS Project years ago and don’t any longer, however, if you work in it and want to collaborate in real time, this is a tool to check out.

Meta view with Search

Make it easy, use search

The one item I liked best about this meta view is the Search box (circled in red above). Without being technically in my project, I could search and pull up all the references to that project and save myself the time of going to that specific project if all I wanted to see was the top 2-3 items from it. It wasn’t intuitive how to get back to the meta view, but if you click the Zoho Projects logo it takes you there.

For the busy small business owner or manager who is probably working from a tight timeline and small budget, Zoho Projects is an intuitive, easy-to-use project manager tool.

Learn more about Zoho Projects.

15 Comments ▼

TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue is the Product Editor for Small Business Trends and an entrepreneur who publishes Tech Biz Talk. TJ is a former Wall Street Journal columnist. He also writes for Forbes and American Express OPEN Forum. He loves learning about technology apps and software services - share yours with TJ.

15 Reactions

  1. Zoho Review,

    I must say i find your review quite thorough, and useful for the average small business owner. If you want to access the your projects with ease in zoho you can add its URL to zoho business where it will appear as an app. This is assuming that you are using the whole zoho suite.

  2. TJ: Thanks for introducing Zoho Projects to your readers with this nice review!

    While Zoho Projects offers some customization like having your own logo, your custom URL, theme color etc, we’ll try to experiment with more options like changing the tab placing, default tab to be shown etc.

    Instead of http://zoho.com, you can hit http://projects.zoho.com which is the generic Zoho Projects URL that will log you in to your projects portal when signed in. That said, we’ll analyze this further and see if the entry can be made more easy.

    Mulwa: Thanks four your suggestion. Yes, you can include Zoho Projects as an app in Zoho Business and make it the default one to load.

  3. TJ: Great review. I listened to an interview with a person from Zoho sometime ago at Small Business Trends Radio. I used a program called ProjectPlace during my studies in international project management (coordinator). As Mulmwa Timothy is points out, it is interesting to know that Zoho has a whole suite of different programs.

  4. Thanks for your tip, Mulwa.

    @Aravind, thanks for clarifying and participating. I could have stopped by and simply asked your support people to clarify, but in many of my reviews, I simply try to do the review and application walk-through, from a new customer perspective. Your clarification is appreciated, though. Thank you.

    I also value your willingness to hear feedback, however unsolicited it is, and take it into the product improvement cycle. That’s terrific!

    @Martin, yes, Zoho has a pretty robust suite of applications all available at an affordable rate. I really like their ala carte approach. You might have accounting under control and just need projects. You can do that with them, bundling and unbundling as you need.

  5. Nice! Looks perfectly organized. Thanks for sharing the Review.

  6. Great review! I’m right in the middle of my Zoho evaluation and you saved me lots of time. I’m also evaluating a couple of other tools. Who would have thought that it’s such a time-consuming business, huh? Besides Zoho, I like Wrike. It’s perfectly integrated with email and allows to to create and update tasks via email, so it does shorted the learning curve.

  7. Hi Dan
    Thanks for the info. I have heard of Wrike, but not checked it out. I will now. I’m in the midst of a few other project management reviews, so keep watching this product review section. Plus, we’ll be working on some email marketing types of apps.
    TJ

  8. I’ve heard good things about Basecamp and Zoho (though the latter, for some reason, try to keep a low profile) as excellent Project Management tools. I’m wondering when will Project Managers have the offline features (such as charts, etc…) that they have on MS Project and the likes on such online applications (not hard if you use Flash).

    Currently all these applications look exactly the same.

  9. I am having problem with the first link. It gives a 404 error?
    Thanks

  10. Thanks for the info. I have heard of Write, but not checked it out. I will now. I’m in the midst of a few other project management reviews, so keep watching this product review section. Plus, we’ll be working on some email marketing types of apps.
    Thanks ==========================================

    Debt Managing

  11. The name needs to be changed to Zoo Ho… I am a guy that just wants to pick out a template and make a nice business website. I am not a team, I did not graduate yesterday with modern thinking that will strealine my time. I just want to make a nice website.

    This is not my first rodeo, so I am not totally ignorant, but I was dumped into a sea of doo doo without a raft.

    If you are a geek that just graduated and have brainstorming meetings and take fifteen pages to justify your modern thinking this this super modern think tank is for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



Who influences you? Nominate for the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards.