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Zoho updates December 2020

Zoho Updates, New Features, and Issues | December 2020

In the past month, we saw a number of updates and improvements in the Zoho CRM application. They’re outlined briefly in this post, along with additional insights about Zoho Creator and Zoho Meet. Keep reading for details.

Finding the updates helpful?  Let us know in the comments if there’s anything else we can do to help provide you with the latest from Zoho and make your day easier.

Here are your What’s New updates for December 2020. 


New Features from Zoho

Zoho CRM

  • In CRM instances with Cliq integration, you will find the capability to call or chat with the record owner directly from CRM when you hover over the record owner name. Enjoy this improved communication workflow!
  • External fields is a new feature in Zoho CRM allowing you to connect CRM with outside data sources. With this feature you can designate a custom, single line field for third-party application information is stored. With this “upsert API call” the external ID can be used to search, create, update, or delete records. Learn more
  • Improvements to the CRM Auto Number field now allows you (as an admin) to select the date formatting option from settings that you like best.

Zoho Creator

  • Security upgrades for Creator accounts associated to Zoho data centers in EU, India, China, and Australia. API and Security Permissions are designed to enhance application security by limiting user access to resources such as API access, PII data, and ePHI data.

  • Zoho Creator’s audit trail feature has been improved for all accounts using Creator 5. Quick summary includes the following:

    • IP address and source information can be captured including: OS, device, and browser.

    • Logs can be exported as .CSA, and you can apply filters while exporting.

    • Improved security.

    • Unchanged data retention for logs is 365 days.

  • Zoho Creator US V5.25.6 iOS now includes upgraded security including allowing reports printing options only for users with this permission.

  • Increased security in Creator applies field permissions to record and print templates when exporting or printing, and ensures that the results contain only the fields permitted for the end user.

  • From Zoho, “You can now control the availability of the change email address option for your portal users. We’ve introduced the Allow customers to change their email addresses option in the customer portal settings.” Read more about this improvement and more on Creator here.

Zoho Meeting

  • Exciting performance improvements and bug fixes to Zoho Meeting are now live. Users now enjoy multi-video feed support for webinars, bandwidth optimization, and improved reliability for recordings. Meetings have also been reworked to resolve several known bugs.

ZOHO UPDATESApplication Updates from Zoho

 Zoho CRM


  • Updates in CRM include limits of 1000 merges per month per organization for Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate edition users. This applies to merges performed while using the mail merge templates’ mail merge and print preview actions. If you need assistance with this new limit or have questions about how it could impact your organization, don’t hesitate to contact us.

  • There have been updates to the Workflow rules in CRM. From Zoho, here are the new limits for this feature:

    • Workflow rules per org: 2500

    • 2500 (maximum 2000 active rules)

    • Execution limit/org: 50

    • Workflow rules per module:

    • Free – 10 (maximum 5 active)

    • Standard – 30 (maximum 15 active)

    • Professional – 80 (maximum 40 active)

    • Enterprise- 125 (maximum 75 active)

    • Ultimate – 150 (maximum 100 active)

  • Turning on notifications in your Feeds Preference now allows you to receive notifications for actions via automations such as when records are created, updated, or deleted. (Just select ’Send Notifications.’)

  • If you are using Workflow rules in CRM Standard edition, now you can take advantage of these actions: Field Update Trigger, Delete Trigger, Field update action, and Email recipient in alert.

Additional Critical Notes on Zoho Creator Updates

  • Zoho announced the end-of-life for Creator v1 on February 3, 2021, and will require a migration to Zoho Creator v2. The application will remain compatible until then; however, we strongly recommend scheduling your analysis and migration in advance in order to avoid any interruptions in service.  We suggest getting started as quickly as possible because the timeline for your migration is variable depending on the complexity of your solution. Contact us any time to schedule your migration analysis.

Zoho BugsIssues Notices from Zoho

 Zoho Creator

  • In Creator, a bug affecting the field labels in PDFs attached to email notifications not translating as expected has been repaired

  • Bug fix for custom location in map report for Zoho Creator has been implemented.



If you have any questions or would like to schedule assistance around any of these updates please contact our consultants or call our offices at (888) 207-4111.


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article about business process analysis

Process Makes Perfect: Features of Business Process Analysis Design that Leads to Successful Implementations

If you’ve found this article, there’s a good chance that you already know Zoho is a viable solution for your business. Perhaps you’re just not sure how to implement. In a slightly worse-case scenario, you need to repair after a failed implementation. Zoho capabilities are wide-ranging, so finding the optimal solution – or combination of solutions – is paramount. This is why the business process analysis design is so important.


Starting off on the right foot by setting up business software correctly helps your sales, operations, accounting, and other teams communicate effectively and work more efficiently. A lot of experience and tried-and-true testing that has gone into what we call “Business Process Analysis.” This process ensures that a full understanding of your business needs is acquired and approved by you before you commit to any large project. Managing expectations and adapting to change is crucial to our success. Our process is designed around these ideals. 


Starting off this way is the best of both worlds: 


  • You have more control of your budget. You get to mitigate the risk of stepping into a project that is based solely on time and materials billing.
  • With greater flexibility available to possible changes in requirements, you’re not tied into a single, rigid solution that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted to close a sale. 
  • Because we collaborate with you at each step of the system design – you can rest easy knowing that your business is getting what it needs!


In this article, we’ll review the features of a Business Process Analysis with ZBrains that leads to successful implementation. We truly believe in this process, and that’s why we use it for nearly every project that is done here at ZBrains. 


Let’s take a closer look at business process analysis design here at ZBrains:



Business process analysis meeting

1. The Assessment phase is foundational to a successful project. We start by understanding the current state of your business processes, and you get a better understanding of how Zoho + ZBrains can solve for business gaps – both known and unknown! Starting here increases adoption and overall project success. Our teams translate your vision into an achievable project plan. Because of this plan, we’re more likely to achieve project success. We define a successful project as one that is within budget and timeline, but most importantly, widely adopted across the organization. After all, what’s the point of implementing a system if no one is going to use it?


2. Planning is our deep dive, and a phase where every stone is turned as we define each detail of your new system. We’ve already identified your business needs, and matched them to Zoho solutions.  This step ensures everything is correct, down to individual screens, fields, automations, and more. Having a plan ensures you don’t miss the mark, which can be expensive in resources and time!


3. Your customized solutions and project plan come to life during Deployment. When your personalized plan from ZBrains gets your stamp of approval, we begin to build your system. During this time we recommend training, and after the project is completed, we also recommend support for your new implementation. Support and effective change management are critical and enables your team to provide immediate feedback and drive user adoption for a successful project launch. Efficient use of time during deployment gets you up and running quicker.


4. Optimization! Now that you’ve spent some time with Zoho, you’re probably ready for more – more improvements, new processes, and greater control of the data within your organization. When you partner with ZBrains, this is really just the beginning.


Interested in learning more, or need to start this conversation in your organization? Here’s how to start:

  • Take a look at the infographic below. 
  • See how we’ve helped clients in the past
  • Reach out to a member of our team today 


We are Zoho Certified Consultants here to help! Contact us any time.


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ZBrains BPA Infographic

Get the PDF here: Business Transformation Process Chart



Zoho Updates 11 2020

Zoho Updates, New Features, and Issues | November 2020

Again in the past month, we’ve seen a lot of changes, updates, and bug fixes in Zoho; most notably Creator. Be sure not to miss the additional critical notes on Creator to ensure your systems continue running smoothly.

We’d love to know if this update is useful for you. Let us know in the comments what else we can include to help provide you with the latest from Zoho to make your day easier.

Here are your What’s New updates for November 2020. 


New Features from Zoho

Zoho CRM

  • Many-to-many associations between records within a module is now possible in Zoho CRM. Self-referencing lookup fields allow you to create deeper relationships between the contacts and content in your database. Need help setting this up? Let us know!
  • Special and foreign characters are now supported in email addresses of CRM records such as Leads and Contacts. The following characters will be supported: # ! $ % & ‘ * + – / ^ _ ` {} | ~

Zoho Creator

  • A new field property available for “Contains Health Info.” This allows for further HIPAA compliance control because now fields can be designated as sensitive if they contain health information. This is available for the following field types: single line, email, number, decimal, percent, currency, date, time, and date-time.

ZOHO UPDATESApplication Updates from Zoho

 Zoho Creator

  • This month we again saw many application updates for Zoho Creator:
    • Improved client communications because you can use more verified email addresses. Zoho ONE verified (sender) emails increased from 10 to 50!
    • Improvements to widgets, including externally hosted widgets, and white listing 3rd party services.
    • Additional improvements added for user admin assignments. Now the app only allows to select users that have accepted an invitation to your workspace.
    • Smarter logic protection is now in place to ensure you don’t delete connections used in other applications. When deleting a connection a prompt will show the places it is used including: integration fields, integration orgs, pages, and workflows. 
    • Version 6.2.5 of the Zoho Creator Portal Android app and Version 3.4 of the Customer Portal – Zoho Creator iOS app both introduced improvements recently. The Android version offers authentication-related security improvements and has fixed several minor bugs to improve stability. Further updates have improved application speed. In addition to improvements similar to Android, iOS now makes accessing and managing offline components better.
    • Get granular and control report printing parameters for your application’s end users. Now the “Print” option in reports will be available for the end user only when they are permitted.
    • New domain URLs have been enabled for EU data center:
      • for Creator applications,
      • for all published components
      • for all custom applications
    • As mentioned in last month’s update, default SMS connections are now deprecated and replaced. Any SMS Actions that use this connection, and the zoho.sms.send Deluge task, will no longer work and requires updates. Please let us know if we can analyze and correct any issues in your system impacted by this change.
  • These are just a few of the highlights of what’s new in Zoho Creator, please see the full technical documentation from Zoho for more.

Additional Critical Notes on Zoho Creator Updates

  • Effective end of October, 2020 Zoho is making a change to the notations used in API Names. If you are using Smart Scheduler for FieldTech or any other custom extensions, please schedule your updates. Zoho Creator is moving from Dot (.) notation in API Names to the Double Underscore ( __ ) notation for all components and Removing Dot(.) and Double Underscore(__) Notation for Default fields of Custom Modules created in Zoho Extensions.
  • Zoho announced the end-of-life for Creator v1 on February 3, 2021, and will require a migration to Zoho Creator v2. The application will remain compatible until then; however, we strongly recommend scheduling your analysis and migration in advance in order to avoid any interruptions in service.  We suggest getting started as quickly as possible because the timeline for your migration is variable depending on the complexity of your solution. Contact us any time to schedule your migration analysis.

 Zoho CRM

  • Zoho CRM and Zoho Analytics Integration API Upgrades: This upgrade means that new features including sub-forms, linking modules, and customer fields in Users module will begin to be supported. As a result, some changes will occur in the fields permissions of Zoho CRM Admin who configured Zoho Analytics integration. The following will not be synced in Zoho Analytics: 
    • Modules or tabs marked as hidden in Zoho CRM, 
    • Modules or Fields with read or write restrictions, 
    • Fields in Zoho CRM that have been deleted or are unused.
  • You might have noticed an upgrade to the details view available in CRM. If you haven’t switched over already, please note that the old details view will be discontinued on November 10, 2020. 
  • Updates in CRM Wizards are available to all users. Now you can add Widgets to the Wizard layout, filter Wizards from the list view, reposition buttons, and include a file upload field in wizard layouts. 
  • Effective March 31, 2021 Zoho will sunset the Zoho CRM Plugin for Microsoft Outlook. Additionally from Zoho Corporation, on “October 15, 2020 users will be restricted from downloading the plugin, and will be redirected to download and use ‘Zoho CRM for email Outlook Add-in’ from the product.”

Zoho Books

  • New mini-dashboard available in Zoho Books invoices module. Now you can see a quick overview of invoices when you go to Sales > Invoices.
  • Update allows you to import files from various cloud storage applications including Zoho Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and more.
  • With public links, now it’s even easier to get signatures and estimate approvals  from clients without a portal. Enable this feature: Settings > Preferences > Estimates > Mark “Allow” on the public link option.
  • Now your templates can have customized address formats per template. Customize an address: Go to Settings > Templates > Choose the module and edit your template > Go to Header then edit the address format.
  • The Zoho Books Windows app and iOS 14 Windows app updates now allow you to have a more seamless experience between the web app and the Windows app or iOS 14 app.

Keep up to date on all the Books releases here.


Zoho BugsIssues Notices from Zoho

 Zoho Creator

  • Images uploaded via APIs in reports are now working.
  • Installing applications from the gallery bug fixed.
  • More specific controls within Deluge are now in place when working with and searching for encrypted datasets. Prior searches on encrypted fields commonly returned no results. For this reason only searches using the operators for “Equals,” “Not Equals,” and “isEmpty” are currently available.




If you have any questions or would like to schedule assistance around any of these updates please contact our consultants or call our offices at (888) 207-4111.


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designing solutions to business problems with Zoho

How to Design Solutions to Business Problems for Every Department with Zoho

Regardless of your industry, there’s a good chance your organization has multiple departments working together to keep business rolling ahead. This includes Operations, Finance, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and maybe you have others, too. We’re here to share that it’s more straightforward than you might have thought to implement or design solutions to business problems for every department with Zoho applications.


You’ll see here an overview of the Zoho solutions offered for each department of your business; however, this quick article is just meant to get thoughts flowing. In other words, it’s just the start of what Zoho can do.  


If you could solve your business problems head on with a Zoho solution, how much time would open up for innovation in your organization?


Let’s take a look at what Zoho has to offer for each department in your organization:


It’s a hefty lift finding an all-in-one solution for operational problems; however, within Zoho’s more than 40 applications they exist. Certainly, there’s a good chance that you don’t need  – or really want – that many apps to run your business. This is where Zoho One comes into play. 

While the 40+ integrated applications encompass everything from CRM, finance, email newsletters, and 

documents, to project management, inventory, and more; you can choose which fit your business needs. You simply need a username and password, integrate your applications, and you’re set; one dashboard to rule all. In your operations department some highlight features include:

  • Project management style flexibility lets you choose from waterfall, agile, and kanban task boards. 
  • Team communication, collaboration, and client portal options ease keeping in touch with dispersed teams and customers.
  • Order fulfillment, multi-channel selling, and warehouse management tools.
  • The ability to create apps that meet the needs of specific business processes, like a  Zoho ERP app developed on Zoho Creator.
  • And we’ve only scratched the surface…



Zoho Books offers tax compliance, and is integrated with 40+ of Zoho’s applications – or whichever you choose to use –  for visibility across your business. You’ve got the basics and more covered in this full-scope solution including being able to see those details about your contacts, time tracking, banking, inventory, payables, receivables, and robust reporting.  


zoho sales toolsStreamline all of your back office duties with Zoho Books and organize all of your transactions in one place. If this isn’t the solution for you, Zoho also integrates with other solutions Quickbooks, but given this set of features you may want to take a closer look at Zoho Books:

  • Collect online payments securely and quickly.
  • Keep records of all your invoices, estimates, credit notes, and even recurring invoices in one place.
  • Convert estimates to invoices in just a few clicks.
  • Automatically remind overdue clients with payment reminders.
  • Never lose a minute of billable hours by monitoring and tracking how labor is spent in your company.
  • Manage inventory and even automate redundant tasks
  •  Capture and view all financial information related to your asset, liability, revenue, or expense accounts and organize them how you want.
  • Simplify tax season in just a few clicks to generate tax reports so you are set when tax season arrives.

Customer Service

Zoho Desk customer service app provides the platform you need for customer support teams ranging from startup to enterprise. Scaled capabilities make it easy to get the basics like customer feedback and a ticketing system, with the option to grow and add more. With small business features you gain even more capability such as:


  • Automate routine tasks using blueprint, 
  • Optimize resource management by connecting clients with the proper support agent, 
  • Improve customer experience with team collaboration,
  • And just like every Zoho app, the data is there and ready to meet your insights and analytics needs. 

marketing tools from Zoho


Marketing departments are often called upon to design solutions to business problems, and the tools from Zoho certainly help! You’ll find an arsenal of applications in Zoho to support your marketing efforts from website creation and testing, to email marketing and social media. And because they integrate with CRM and the rest of the Zoho One suite, you’ll also get end-to-end data for a full story of lead to sale for every contact. With this sort of insight, Zoho makes answering big questions about your marketing strategy – and any adjustments you should consider – very direct. Learn more about marketing tools in Zoho One.


If your sales department is like any other we’ve met since starting ZBrains in 2012, you’re putting a lot of eggs into any CRM solution you choose. Don’t dig around looking for solutions only to wonder if they’ll work. We strongly recommend a partner for any CRM implementation involving this aspect of your organization and avoid common pitfalls:

  • Starting an implementation project without a planning roadmap in place.
  • You’ve got a new tool, but user adoption is poor.
  • You don’t have support – and this means internal training and external partnership.
  • You’re trying to do it on your own and it’s just not working out.


Trust in Zoho-certified CRM consultants at ZBrains to help you implement your new system and Zoho CRM in a way that truly complements your business. Our goal is to really invest time in getting to know your business so you get you all the tools you need to succeed. We even invented a name for how we do it – Business Process Analysis. Imagine the power you can put behind your sales team when a correctly implemented CRM is in place to foster your sales process from lead to sale, to cross-selling and upselling opps!


We hope this high level overview explaining how Zoho apps, and Zoho One can help you design solutions to business problems for every department in your organization has been informative. And as always, if there’s something you read that sparks an idea, there’s a pretty good chance that Zoho has a solution. At ZBrains we love the opportunity to address and solve those big questions whenever we partner with a new client. How can we help you?


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zoho for manufacturing and distribution

How Zoho Can Solve Business Problems for Manufacturing and Distribution Companies

In this article, we’ll look at how to solve business problems around three common issues we’ve seen impact others in your industry and share some ideas that have been successful for them. Zoho solves business problems for many types of businesses, but Distribution and Manufacturing by the nature of their industry are especially suited for the use of Zoho CRM and other Zoho applications.

You might spend time trying to solve for traveling work orders, time tracking, asset management, RMA and MRP requirements. If you’re encountering them, these problems can take up a lot of time and inhibit innovation.

You’d rather be focusing on hard numbers, actionable steps, and measurable KPI efforts like:

  • operating efficiency
  • utilizing capacity to the fullest extent
  • keeping a keen eye on profitability
  • working to ensure that your shipping is staying on time

These days you may also be looking for even more in-depth functionality in order to do more with existing resources, including redeploying talent, improving productivity, and shifting operations. Let’s take a closer look at three problems in manufacturing and distribution that Zoho can help you solve.

Problem 1: You’re aiming for Lean Manufacturing goals and falling short

Lean manufacturing goals with ZohoAs a decision maker in the manufacturing industry you need to introduce and foster ideas and methods to increase sales, manage orders and the warehouse, and more. You do all of this while trying to keep a pulse on the end-to-end tracking of your process, too.

Zoho Inventory helps here:

  • So you can manage inventory in multiple warehouses.
  • It integrates with Zoho CRM and Zoho Books to automatically sync contacts and your orders.
  • You get a few steps closer to the financial data you need, while addressing lean wastes of waiting and extra processing.

Zoho Inventory not cutting it? No sweat, tools like FieldTech have been produced for more robust ERP requirements using Zoho Creator for things like inventory management, and to optimize your production routing.

These ideas scratch the surface of the data you can access with the Zoho ecosystem.  How else could organized and actionable data provide information to help guide your lean manufacturing efforts as you solve business problems you encounter?

Problem 2: Forecasting for your business is a foggy endeavor

forecasting for distribution and manufacturingYou need visibility to what’s being produced, purchased – and when –  in order to make the best inventory management decisions. And if you can get the information in a tidy dashboard with less data input, even better!

Zoho Inventory provides data-driven insights to help you understand your customers in a meaningful way. You gain a more accurate forecasting for production material needs.

Add Zia’s prediction tool in Zoho CRM to take advantage of key business indicators such as the likelihood of a lead converting to a deal, revenue forecasts, and how likely a site visitor is to purchase. Zia predictions can be implemented for both standard and custom modules so your business can take advantage of this tool.

What predictors would be most meaningful for your organization?

Creating a prediction using Zia is relatively straightforward, but you can also work with a ZBrains Zoho Certified Consultant to get a head start on taking advantage of your data.

Finally, in addition to predictions, Zia also looks for trends. Using the data you have, Zia relies on past experiences to offer predictions. Receive alerts for spikes or dips without having to check on a dashboard daily. Decide if you want notifications about leads, contacts, deals, tasks, events, calls, email, or something different depending on the components you select for Zia to watch.

Having the power to forecast and even predict business events in distribution and manufacturing is essential to smooth operations.

Problem 3: You need solve business problems more quickly and spend more time on innovation

people meeting with laptopUntangling from daily business operations and on-the-fly problem solving in your organization can be a daunting undertaking. In other words, it’s time to start solving those issues more quickly. You want to resolve them completely so you have time to devote to innovation.

Naturally, this is where a business can cut even more of the lean wastes. They can spend money less on operations, and begin to excel. If you had the time, what innovation would you put into place immediately for your organization?

Having a plan to remain adaptable, and the visibility to metrics you need to communicate for success starts with information architecture. Zoho’s CRM and streamlined ERP solution to manage your inventory and orders, along with the multitude of possible integrations to fit your process is a great place to start your journey. Consider this change if you currently:

  • Pay for several systems wherein a change to one affects the others resulting in development expenses.
  • You manage multiple vendors, and spend a lot of time reiterating the same business needs and goals.
  • Your teams are working from siloed data.
  • Existing systems make global reporting cost-prohibitive and time consuming.

Start with a Zoho solution that gives end-to-end visibility to your organization. Quit struggling to track, report, and act on data. Finally start solving problems for good so you can achieve a better, leaner business.

Begin solving business problems for your manufacturing or distribution organizations with Zoho solutions.  Don’t put it off any longer, contact us for an assessment that’s geared specifically to your business – our ZBrains team of Zoho Certified Consultants are eager to help!

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Creative Thinking with Zoho

Creative Thinking to Solve Business Problems for Field Services and Construction with Zoho Applications

It’s important to act on creative thinking to solve business problems to stay on top in field services and construction. Your industry might have standard  KPI’s and processes that “work for everyone.” However, as business owners and operators we know it’s our job to ensure that we’re constantly innovating, improving, and making the most of the time available each day.

As a result, the way you work is almost guaranteed to change over time and you’ll need to keep solving new problems. The beauty of Zoho CRM and all of the other Zoho applications available, is that they allow for creative solutions to business problems.

This includes the data you capture and your Zoho systems, including what you’re doing with both to make your business profitable time and again. In this article, we’ll share four common business problems that we see Field Services and Construction firms encountering often. This includes everything from your deals and quoting to how to save time calculating commissions. And we’re going to tell you some of the ways that Zoho applications provide a framework. You can ensure you’re staying on the edge of innovation and setting yourself apart from competition, if that’s a goal of yours.

Let’s take look at some common business problems and which KPI’s you can track in Zoho to stay on top:

Problem 1: Your scheduling and routing efficiency needs help

For Field Services businesses especially, the routing efficiency KPI is a big one, but consider scheduling, too. Are these tasks cumbersome and wasting time that could be spent on the job? You might be asking and wondering:construction inside building

  • Are techs arriving to jobs on time?
  • Do you have the right person scheduled for the work they’re doing?
  • Is time wasted with crews making trips across town?
  • How much loss happens when an appointment cancels?
  • How much productivity – and profit – is lost with extra movement?

Making sure your business has a handle on routing efficiency measurements using geolocation can help you see where you can make up losses. But this is just the start. With the right creative thinking to solve business problems, and the right tools for the job, you can achieve gains in productivity.

The Zoho Scheduling App allows for setting appointments based on sales rep calendar availability, location, skill level, or any other metric you define. The app also recognizes cancellations and can suggest appointments to fill cancellation gaps.  For use with a larger sales team, the Zoho Smart Scheduler  combines savings to positively impact revenue!

Problem 2: You’re losing deals because of a disconnect in quoting.

Do any of these sound true for you?

  • Updating product pricing, calculating, and then generating proposals takes forever and are prone for error.
  • Collecting necessary signatures for a job is a hassle.
  • Some of your products are missing descriptions or images in your system.
  • Customers don’t have a way to electronically approve your estimates.

This losing deals issue exists in a lot of businesses, not just construction and field services. However, when your project profitability, service level agreements, and customer satisfaction rely on accurate quotes, it’s paramount to start each job on the right foot.

Optimizations give you beautiful looking quotes, faster quote delivery, more accurate quoting, and an easier transition into creating  jobs. Assemble quotes with the click of a button when Zoho CRM is customized for your construction or field service business . The information required is stored in your CRM! That is: items details, photos, and any other information you require for each SKU. Integrate your Zoho quoting (CPQ) tool with an eSignature tool of your choice, and approval signatures become a breeze.

How much time would your staff save with this sort of integrated quoting and communication tool? Do you think a stronger – and quicker – quoting process would help you land more deals?

Problem 3: Calculating commissions is an overwhelming task

It’s time again for you to calculate commissions for your staff and your business has grown to a complexity that makes this task, well, overwhelming. For you and for your employees. They want to compare month-to-month earnings. You both want easy to access statements and to get this finished on time. Ideally, you envision all of this working in a single system to save you time and effort.

With creative thinking to solve this business problem, Zoho created the Zoho Commission Calculator. Saving time and making this process more straightforward, now you can focus on your next innovation to tackle. And your sales staff can back to what they do best – sales.

Problem 4: Job Costing and Time Tracking feel impossible to capture

With Zoho as your hub, tedious and often difficult tasks of job costing and time tracking are made simpler in FieldTech.  This app connects your field service operation and optimizes your workforce. The benefits are far-reaching in terms of your new ability to report on accurate data around these two specific tasks.

building construction exterior

And the result of accurate reporting? You receive a direct line to the improvement opportunities that exist in these daily operations.

Let’s take a look:

Time Tracking

When your techs arrive on the job, they can select from available work orders and log time against individual tasks assigned on those work orders. One feature that stands out here is geo-location that automatically clocks techs in when they arrive on site. They spend less time on data entry, and don’t miss this task.

Of course, time tracking data is visible to managers, and in reporting. Bottlenecks become easily identifiable, and you can act on them – whether that’s staff training or an innovation in process.

Job Costing

Does your job costing process currently take you between spreadsheets and several applications to find the full story and get answers you need? To find material, equipment, labor, and other direct costs is taking a lifetime. With FieldTech implementation you can see how profitable your jobs are right from a centralized dashboard.

Job Costing ties into time tracking, too:

    • See which of your field techs are doing the best/most efficient work.
    • Get granular and see time spent for a particular job against expected time.
    • Easily see gross profit and how it compares against other jobs.

Imagine being able to compare data from your jobs to find out which are most likely to be successful for your company when you start searching for new leads. Kick off your next marketing campaign armed with data from job costing.

This holistic company view, accompanied by accurate data gives you uncomplicated, actionable insights.

Are you ready to use creative thinking to solve business problems and more with Zoho? Don’t leave it to chance, contact us for an assessment that’s geared specifically to your business. Whether you’re in Field Services or Construction, the ZBrains team of Zoho Certified Consultants are eager to help.


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group in a problem solving session

Business Problem Solving for Tech & SaaS with Zoho Solutions

As a Technology and SaaS company, you’re managing leads, sales, deals, and likely managing subscriptions. Perhaps you are even using Zoho apps to do it. With Zoho CRM, Zoho Desk, Zoho Subscriptions, and Zoho Books implementations, capturing your data across the business is covered.  It’s a great start to business problem solving.

But are you using that data to the fullest? 

Are you keeping an eye on the correct metrics for your Key Performance Indicators? In this article we share the top three problems that we see a lot of Technology, Saas, CaaS, TaaS, and Subscription-based businesses contend with and how to solve them. Keep reading to ensure that you’re resolving these possible lapses in reporting. Avoid these pitfalls that could be leaving a hole in your potential revenue.


Problem 1: You’re Losing Track of Subscriptions or Recurring Revenue

using kpis to measure successSome businesses use deals to keep track of annual subscriptions or contracts, but depending on your contract structure, this can lead to a case of counting your chickens before they’ve hatched. Keeping an eye on your KPI’s slightly shorter-term will give you a more accurate pulse on the health of the business. Business problem solving can start by tracking Monthly Recurring Revenue. 

What is Monthly Recurring Revenue?

“Regardless of your subscription model, monthly recurring revenue as a KPI is foundational to your business. Take the total number of paying clients by the average revenue per customer to achieve this figure. Straightforward really, but if you have a lot of pricing variants, it can get sticky. (Bonus points if you can segment your recurring revenue by new vs existing clients.) Taking into account your known churn rate when looking at MRR could give you insight into whether or not it’s time to acquire more accounts.

Keep your Monthly Recurring Revenue data at hand when you add this metric to your executive dashboard. In Zoho CRM, or Zoho Analytics depending on your business need, you’ll be able to bring this KPI front and center, with the ability to drill down for specifics when you need them. You won’t lose track of subscriptions or recurring revenue as easily when you make it part of your organization’s KPI’s.


Problem 2: Your Quoting, Job Costing, and/or Sales Process is Complex

As the market space for SaaS and Tech businesses continues expanding, so must the service and product offering of many organizations. If your business model includes software services, plus physical equipment – and maybe even installation – then your quoting complexity certainly goes up a notch. 

people working on a whiteboardHere’s a quick bonus tip: With a solution such as a custom Zoho CPQ tool, built on Zoho Creator your org can use your own factors, triggers, and calculations. Then you’re able to assemble quotes that include software, hardware, and  services. (P.S. The app includes a quote configurator, as well as kitting or bundling!) 

With complex businesses, and complex quoting, so exists a complex and often longer-term sales process. They can be difficult to keep tabs on. This is where having the right tools and a handle on the right KPI’s can really help. Start by asking yourself some questions geared toward business problem solving. For example, do you know with certainty:

    • How many new deals are in your pipeline right now? 
    • Which deals are closing this week?
    • Do you have a deal that started out promising that is now going stale? 
    • Do you know why? 

There’s a KPI for that! Here we provided a little bonus tool suggestion with the customer Zoho CPQ tool. However, we recommend a very common tool with far-reaching KPI’s to keep tabs on quotes, your open deals, deals with subscriptions renewing soon, and more. It’s a sales pipeline.

Use a Sales Pipeline in Zoho CRM, in tandem with your custom Zoho CPQ tool, to have quick insight and a connection between the data in your deals and your sales process. Tracking pipeline data can help you:

    • Know when it’s time to dive into issues with sales staff, saving time and maybe even saving a few deals your org might have lost due to inattentiveness.
    • Identify patterns in pipeline data to help you identify your ideal customer to target as you search for new leads.
    • And if you are dealing with complex quotes and long sales cycles, you can also see when customers are dropping off at certain stages of the cycle. You’ll know the seat of the problem and won’t have to guess where to start adjusting your sales process.

This insight from an integrated Zoho solution can solve for complex sales processes and mean a big leg up against your competitors.


Problem 3: You Don’t Know if Your Current Clients are Happy.

Anecdotally, you can poll your sales staff on behalf of clients. Or you can talk to a few customers to find out what they do or don’t like about your offering. However, without an active effort to utilize data from Zoho CRM, Zoho Survey, and potentially custom Zoho Creator functions in this process, you may never know the full story. If this sounds familiar, actively start business problem solving for customer satisfaction.

Are there things you could be doing differently to ensure happy customers and what are they?

We suggest three KPI’s to track, both lead and lag measures. They can help you understand objectively if your clients are happy. This mix of KPI metrics provides a rounded set of information to indicate the overall health of your existing customer base. 

First, Churn Rate. 

The SaaS industry average is said to be between 5-7% annually. Do you know yours?

The outlay of cost (CAC) to acquire a new client is usually significantly greater than the cost of maintaining an existing customer. Right off the bat, this is a bonus because the lower your churn rate, the less you may have to invest in acquisition. Satisfied clients aren’t generally searching for new business solutions. So for this reason, we recommend keeping tabs on Churn Rate as a lag indicator of customer satisfaction. To do this, use Zoho tools to calculate the percentage of your cumulative cancellations over your cumulative sign-ups every month. 

Secondly, On-Time Delivery. 

On-Time Delivery is a process metric that can tell you if your operations are working as intended. However, on-time delivery can double as a lead measure for customer satisfaction. In most cases, if your staff have promised a delivery date, and it has lapsed (calculated as a rate of deliverables made on time) there’s a very good chance that customer perception will be impacted. Knowing your baseline for on-time delivery, and acknowledging anomalies alongside other satisfaction metrics could be a simple way to stay aware of potential negative trends.

And if you need assistance with this or any KPI’s, Zoho’s many tools are indispensable. Zoho’s almost endlessly customizable with the Creator app. It allows you to create the features you need to capture the data your org needs including on-time delivery and churn rate. Zoho Creator  puts the tools to innovate and improve squarely into your hands.

Finally, Net Promoter Score. 

Net Promoter Score is used widely to measure customer satisfaction. Zoho Survey is a perfect tool for measuring this, and straightforward to do. With a single question, customers are identified as Promoters, Passive, or Detractors. We suggest adding in a comment field in order to collect statements if your customers wish to leave one. Using the quantitative data of the 1-10 rating, alongside the qualitative comment data, you open the door to actionable insights.


Ready to start solving business problems and empowering your organization through better use of the data you’re collecting? Instead of leaving it to chance, contact us for an assessment that’s geared specifically to your business. Whether you’re in SaaS, other technology, or you use subscriptions in any form, the ZBrains team of Zoho Certified Consultants are eager to help.

October updates from ZBrains

Zoho Updates, New Features, and Issues | October 2020

As you likely know through experience, Zoho is a diverse and dynamic ecosystem of applications and is constantly updated and improved. While we know that not every change will immediately improve your system, we’re striving to ensure that the most up to date information about Zoho Updates is available and shared with you regularly. It’s our hope as your partner that this information will inform any required updates to your systems and minimize unnecessary impacts to business. Each month we’ll post this short digest with information including:

  • New features for Zoho apps
  • Application updates from Zoho
  • Issues that might impact your system

We’d love to know if this update is useful for you. Let us know in the comments what else we can include to help provide you with the latest from Zoho to make your day easier.

Here are your What’s New updates for October 2020. 


New Features from Zoho

Zoho CRM

Zoho Books

  • Introduced discount at the line item level for bills and purchase orders.
  • Get a faster at-a-glance view with this Zoho Books business performance ratios improvement. See the details here.

ZOHO UPDATESApplication Updates from Zoho

 Zoho Creator

  • Lots of updates and improvements recently in Zoho Creator, so we’ll give you the highlights here.
    • You’ll see improvements in security, SMS default functions, and a greater flexibility with API permissions by user. 
    • Export settings have increased to 100,000 records.
    • Now you’ll find more flexible styling options in iOS. 
    • Most recently, Zoho Creator offers greater connectivity and Zoho-to-Zoho integration. You can connect custom functions with Zoho Books, Zoho Invoice, Zoho Subscriptions, and Zoho Inventory. 
  • These are just a few of the highlights of what’s new in Zoho Creator, please see the full technical documentation from Zoho for more

Additional Critical Notes on Zoho Creator Updates

  • Effective end of October, 2020 Zoho is making a change to the notations used in API Names. If you are using Smart Scheduler for FieldTech or any other custom extensions, please schedule your updates. Zoho Creator is moving from Dot (.) notation in API Names to the Double Underscore ( __ ) notation for all components and Removing Dot(.) and Double Underscore(__) Notation for Default fields of Custom Modules created in Zoho Extensions.
  • Recently Zoho announced the end-of-life for Creator API v1 on February 3, 2021, and will require a migration to Zoho Creator API v2. The application will remain compatible until then; however, we strongly recommend scheduling your analysis and migration in advance in order to avoid any interruptions in service.  This change applies to you if you are using the v1 API and syncing w/ CRM, Books, or any other application. The API for v2 is already released. Next, we suggest getting started as quickly as possible because the timeline for your migration is variable depending on the complexity of your solution. Contact us any time to schedule your migration analysis.

 Zoho CRM

  • It’s time to update your browser for CRM. Zoho has upgraded the default browser version for CRM to facilitate features like widgets and scripts. Change effective October 15, 2020. For documentation on the most current specifications, please see the updated system requirements documentation.

Zoho Books

  • Firstly, Zoho Books has provided a new option to use the suggested rate when categorizing bank feeds in foreign currency with transactions in Books.
  • Next, you can save a step with this new update, “[Books] Provided the option to choose a payment mode from multiple payment modes if you mark the option ‘I have received the payment’ while creating an invoice.”
  • Update allows time-savings with the “option to configure auto-apply credit notes and excess payments to recurring invoices.”


Zoho BugsIssues Notices from Zoho

  • For now, we don’t have any notable issues to share, but keep your eye on this section for future updates about issues.




If you have any questions or would like to schedule assistance around any of these updates please contact our consultants or call our offices at (888) 207-4111.


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Zia Zoho CRM

Zia and Zoho CRM: How AI Can Up Your CRM Game

Today we want to introduce you to Zia, Zoho CRM’s AI-driven conversational assistant who you can chat with via text or voice, and who can provide sales insights or even remind you of tasks. This is just the start of what Zia can do. In this article we’ll cover:

  • Spending less time in your email
  • How Zia helps you get in front of your customers at the times best for them
  • Generating reports and getting quick answers to your reporting questions with Zia
  • How Zia helps to notify you of abnormal sales metrics
  • Maximizing your cross-selling and up-selling opportunities
  • And believe it or not, more

Stay tuned for all of the areas that Zia can assist, but first a bit more about how Zia does what it does in Zoho CRM. Zoho says,


“[Zia] optimizes your CRM data through data mining and machine learning to deliver key business information such as sales predictions, suggestions, and alerts. It is not only based on what goes into the system, but Zia even learns how each salesperson uses Zoho CRM from all her analysis.”


The result is better, more informed – and personalized – communications for sales and marketing with your prospects and leads. Let’s take a closer look at all the ways that you and your team can interact with Zia to shave time off common tasks from calls to reporting, and gain more insight into the world of your customers’ behavior. If you want to know how to use Zia in zoho CRM, keep reading. 


Spend less time in email with Zia.

In email, something we all use daily, Zia is able to streamline work by identifying and extracting tasks. Zia can set appointments directly from email. How much time could that save you in a week?

It can also mark sentiment of email messages. Then you can easily recognize requests, queries, complaints, or other types of messages. This helps you easily identify potential escalations like complaints allowing you and your employees to organize what should be prioritized. Then, take this data one step further to segment records based on email sentiment – positive, negative, or neutral. For example, you can find all recent negative sentiments and schedule appropriate follow up actions like phone calls or meetings. 

This is just the start of what Zia can do.


• Zia answers when you ask. 

If you have questions about the data you keep in CRM, simply ask Zia to receive information quickly such as: 

  • a list of your open tasks for the day
  • which deals are closing in the next 30 days
  • or get granular and ask more complex questions

You can ask about sales numbers, or search anything in CRM when you type the word “search” and then the term you are looking for. Add skills for Zia to complete actions for you like creating tasks, changing deal stages, converting a lead, and placing a call to a contact. The functionality here goes much deeper of course, and we’re happy to answer your questions about Zia so contact us any time


Contact your leads and customers at the right time with help from Zoho CRM Zia.

At the beginning of this article we mentioned that Zia learns from and uses behavioral patterns to do its work. Some of the behavioral patterns that Zia looks at includes “Best Time to Contact” information. In contact records you can view the best time for a call or email based on what Zia has learned from the contact behavior, as well as the agent behavior with that contact.

Now, anytime you want to do outreach take a quick look at the “best time” suggestion to improve those communications and increase your chances of connecting. (You can look for times both today or in the future if the best time for the day has already passed!) Tack on Zia reminders and double-down on your AI-powered successes. This feature works when you select your tasks for a day and ask Zia for reminders. It even takes into account the “best time” data so you don’t have to.


Zia in Zoho CRM can recommend products, increase engagement, and improve customer experience.

[caption id="attachment_4512" align="alignright" width="500"] Zia aggregates behavioral data points from many areas of the customer journey, then provides actionable recommendations for your sales and marketing teams.[/caption]

Using self-learning, Zia’s Recommendation tool can help you by finding behavioral patterns that can be used to position the right product at the right time, to your customers. You choose the areas where you want Zia to provide recommendations, then connect standard or custom modules to define the desired recommendation model. 

Zia aggregates behavioral data points from click-through rates and conversions, to revenue and cross-selling, and then provides actionable recommendations. Whether you’re looking for e-commerce or other online sales recommendations, Zia can be configured to help. 

Additionally, your customer’s preferences can be leveraged even more when Zia is used to place preferred content, products, and more to increase the efficiency of your lead nurturing campaigns, increase engagement, or improve customer satisfaction. This is the power of delivering the right messages at the right time.


Get better predictions and get trend notifications with Zia.

CRM Administrators can take advantage of the prediction tool to find key business indicators such as the likelihood of a lead converting to a deal, revenue forecasts, and how likely it is for a site visitor to convert on – or purchase – a product. You can set up Zia predictions for both standard and custom modules. It requires 24 hours and a minimum of 200 matching training records or that contain data relevant to the prediction. 

When a prediction is configured, a custom field is visible on each record. Creating a prediction using Zia is relatively straightforward, but as always you can contact a ZBrains Zoho Certified Consultant if you’d like to get a running start.

In addition to predictions, Zia also looks for trends, and can alert you to spikes or dips without the need for you to check on a dashboard daily. You’ll get notifications about leads, contacts, deals, tasks, events, calls, email and more depending on the components you select for Zia to watch. An enviable tool for any sales manager, Zia analyzes the data and lets you know when significant changes occur. To see them check the Zia notifications in the lower right corner of your screen.


• Streamline tasks with an AI assistant, Zia.

What if your AI assistant Zia could recommend workflows, or tasks you repeat often, and streamline them for you? 

By enabling Workflow Suggestions, it can! 

Zia notifies you when it recognizes a new suggestion. Then you select if you’d like to use it or not. Automated workflows are suggested for and can be created in Leads, Contacts, Accounts, and Deals. 

A great example of this is, you may have several workflows already in place to help you manage follow-ups with your leads. And you may have leads that find you and engage with multiple campaigns. Zia can help by notifying you when leads may receive multiple campaign or auto responder emails in a single day.

Through behavioral learning Zia will recommend workflows for the manual activities that you repeat often, like the example above. Remember to check your Zia notifications to see them.


Put an end to confusing record owner assignment rules, let Zia do it!

Confusing rules about client territory, industry, interest, or preferences, in tandem with agent availability are remedied with Zia’s record owner assignment. Zia suggests automated assignments based on how your current CRM records are assigned. 

For example, all customers in New York interested in product AA, should be assigned to agent Jane Smith. Record assignments can also be split based on the customer’s preferred form of communication. For example, if only an email address exists on a record, it should be handled by agent Richard Nguyen, and if only a phone number exists then the request should route to another agent. 

Similar assignments are made based on agent or user availability and their workload! Once you define and set them up with Zia, you can stop referencing protocol documentation. You put an end to emailing a team to find out who is available to take a new lead.


[caption id="attachment_4513" align="alignright" width="500"]how to use zia in zoho crm Streamline your Zoho CRM activities, automate repetitive tasks, and let Zia do data entry or answer those quick questions that pop up throughout the day.[/caption]

Let Zia do the new record data entry.

Everyone finds it bothersome when a new record is entered in the system and the information is incomplete. Is that true for you, too? From information entered in Leads, Accounts, and Contacts, Zia will crawl the web and look for corresponding data matches including:

  • social media handles
  • complete address
  • phone numbers
  • email addresses
  • industry type

You and your team are set to save a few minutes here and there doing data entry. We all know that these little tasks add up over time.

So, once you have enabled data enrichment and mapped fields, Zia collects and enters the data for you whenever a record is created or edited. Of course, security is always a concern.  Zia does not store any information. It only accesses public information shared on the internet.


Use Zia as your FAQ source.

Last, but certainly not least, Zia can act as your Zoho CRM FAQ. Have a question about something in the Zoho ecosystem? Type your question in the “Ask Zia” chat at the bottom right of your scree. Then see relevant articles and information to start your research.


Are you interested in learning more about Zia, Zoho’s AI assistant? Ready to start? Contact us!


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BackToWork with Zoho

Zoho’s BackToWork Apps Free Until End of 2020

Zoho has a mission to help businesses keep on track, especially during this uncertain time. Now they’re doing it again by offering the BackToWork apps free until 12/31/2020. We’ve sure experienced endless changes in 2020 and Zoho is primed to help. (You might remember they did so with Emergency Subscription Assistance Program (ESAP) and even made their Remotely suite free until July 2020 earlier this year.)  

Currently at ZBrains, we’re hearing from a lot of clients who are gearing up to open their doors – or even moving forward already – and the need for digital transformation tools that allow for a safe return to work is evident. As you embark on the journey back to business safely in these new circumstances, take a look at what BackToWork offers in this single pack – no need to subscribe to each one individually. 

What solutions are included in BackToWork?

Six primary modules are associated with this future-driven solution from Zoho. The information and communication we needed to operate seamlessly has changed dramatically. BackToWork can help with your struggles around safety, compliance, communication, facility management, and even asset and maintenance requests, and resource capacity. With Zoho BackToWork, you get “a ready-to-use app that focuses on workforce readiness.

Admin control center module – Welcome your staff back to a safer office space. This dashboard empowers top-level management to assess the preparedness of facilities better, and view individual employee health statuses.

Wellness module – Provide industry-approved surveys. This dashboard lets you circulate and collect self-assessment and contact-tracing forms, and oversee organization-wide health information.

Safe entry module – Determine which employees are ready to work from the office. With this module, perform employee self-assessments, segregate high-risk groups, and evaluate entry requests from employees and visitors.

Employee self-service module – On this dashboard, you can manage asset requests, ranging from office supplies to sanitizer to office space maintenance.

Communications module – Correspond with staff over the phone and the web, and share guidelines, best practices, frameworks, and announcements in a coordinated manner.

Volunteer module – Give back to the community. This module allows organizations to recruit employees, and organize and execute volunteer drives.

How to get BackToWork

How would you use the BackToWork app collection? If you’re already thinking about how it could benefit your business and your team communication, or if you’re looking for other Zoho Solutions to enhance your organization, our team of ZBrains consultants would be glad to connect and analyze your situation for you. 

Contact us any time to start the conversation about your digital transformation.