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.
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:
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.
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.