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Category : Zoho AppCreator

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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Test Your Toys in the New Zoho Creator Sandbox

Before you think about Zoho Creator Sandbox, imagine for just a moment…

zoho creator sandbox

Remember when sandboxes were the place to be during recess?  Innocent times, those… We were young and didn’t have a care in the world.  Weren’t ready for that great, big outside world – not slightly – and the sandbox kept us insulated: from the harsh blacktop, from the rough-and-tumble world of the soccer field, and of course from the big, scary older kids.  And then, when the time was right, we left the safety of the sandbox and ventured into the world along with the upper-graders, now our contemporaries.  And, after that initial jump, we continued adjusting ourselves in the real world until we finally graduated elementary school and outgrew the need for special insulation.

With such regulation and care given to how we spent our precious free time during elementary school, why wouldn’t we apply that same logic to our computer programs?  That is to say instead of simply building a computer program or app from scratch and thrusting it into the real world, hoping it would perform as specified, why not develop the app in a sandbox environment, testing and making adjustments to the functionality as needed, and only then pushing it into production?

Well, as a Zoho Creator user, maybe you’ve come to this conclusion before – and, maybe you’ve even gone to lengths to develop your apps inside a sandbox of sorts before pushing them into Creator, and ultimately into production.  But, that wasn’t such a good way of doing things; there was too much room for error between concept and reality.  Programs didn’t work the way they were supposed to, and your customers let you know it unequivocally.

Zoho Creator Sandbox

zoho creator sandbox

Zoho has understood your concern on this one.  For Zoho Creator, they’ve developed a sandbox environment for you to test your apps in before you move them to production.  This Zoho Creator sandbox is a welcome addition to Zoho Creator for obvious reasons.  For one thing, it’s even better than an elementary school sandbox; rather than insulate your app from production in an unrealistic environment, the Zoho Creator sandbox mimics your production environment exactly – only, it doesn’t affect your actual business data or reports at all.

zoho creator sandbox

Essentially, allows you as a business owner to add one extra step to your app development process to ensure that:

  • Employees are trained properly on your app before its use in production.
  • You will understand the effects of employees’ use of the app before its use in production.
  • The app can be updated largely in one fell swoop – behind the scenes after a preliminary version is already in production – rather than in smaller segments, which may not make sense when presented in that manner.

If working on apps in Creator seemed daunting at first, it may be time to open up the program again and give it another chance; there are many situations in which you can use Zoho Creator sandbox to help streamline your procedures.  Maybe you need an app that will create custom reports from data in Zoho and QuickBooks, for example.  Or, perhaps you need an entire Zoho ERP suite that syncs up with Zoho CRM.  However, if you still don’t think you’re ready to design your own apps, the Solutions Architects at ZBrains can help you with that and everything that goes along with it. Contact us today for a free introductory consultation for your Zoho Creator project–or anything else related to Zoho.


Zoho AppCreator Lets You MAKE Mobile Apps

You know you’re living in a decadent time when you learn that Zoho’s just created a new product that lets users create entire mobile apps from scratch.  The new product, called Zoho AppCreator, is pretty similar to Zoho Creator, but with a focus set squarely on creating mobile apps.

zoho appcreator

Forgive my amazement, but, remember when creating apps was something you needed to hire a very experienced developer to do, and, even when the thing was all done, you had to jump through flaming hoops of compliance to get the thing into the App Store or the Play Store?  Now, you can get all apps created with Zoho AppCreator into the app store, no sweat.  Unreal!

This is still a relatively new product, so I’m sure there will be updates, but let me give you the first-time rundown!  We can explore it together.

Zoho AppCreator – First Glance

zoho appcreator

Zoho’s new UI rollout really shines here – AppCreator is perfectly in line with all the other apps Zoho’s upgraded recently.  (Still waiting for a few stragglers, though… I’m looking at you, Zoho Campaigns…)  All the main buttons – the hamburger, the home and help icons – are in their expected places, and the lighter blue header is a nice change from the darker hues of most other Zoho apps.

Truly the easiest, coolest thing

Zoho AppCreator gives the user a screen with which to build real, functioning mobile apps that not only stand on their own, but can connect to Zoho CRM and other third-party business programs.  Building apps is all pretty much done in a familiar, drag-and-drop fashion; users can select the data fields of their choice from a bank, and even create their own custom fields if they so choose.  And, perhaps the best part: you don’t even have to know how to code to use this.  Apps you build with Zoho AppCreator will function on Androids, Apple devices, and Windows machines…just like that.

zoho appcreator

But, how can you use Zoho AppCreator for your business?

Pretty easily, actually.  Here are some easy potential use cases:

  • Connect to the CRM and set up a scheduling app to fit your needs
  • Send information to your CRM or other business program on the fly by entering through a form
  • Set the CRM to notify Zoho AppCreator users when certain conditions arise
  • Sync data from multiple business programs to a single custom app

There are loads more, of course – I’m sure you’re thinking of a few possible applications yourself.

Another thing you’ll love: As with all other Zoho apps, AppCreator is cloud-based.  That means any change you make to the app will reflect for all app users immediately.  That means no software upgrades!

What you can do now:

  • Sign up for a trial of Zoho AppCreator and get your hands dirty!  Er, you won’t get them dirty, actually, since the thing is so easy to use.  Give it a shot.
  • Stay tuned for more content on the latest Zoho offerings!  I plan to create a searchable page for the site that includes more in-depth info on Zoho AppCreator, which will include a comprehensive list of features and more potential use cases for the product, written in a more consultative way.