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Category : Zoho ERP

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 app like  HelloSign or other 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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Should you choose Zoho FSM or FieldTech?

Should you dive into Zoho FSM?

zoho fsm or fieldtech

In 2019, we got the first glimmerings of a new Zoho app called Zoho FSM, or Field Service Management.  Now over halfway through 2020, Zoho has been slowly–very slowly!–opening the gates to this app and allowing both Zoho partners and users to test it.

And of course, the testing phase is part of any successful app rollout, especially when it’s something brand-new like Zoho field service management.  Zoho has toed the ERP waters before with their combination of Zoho Books and Inventory.  However, Zoho FSM is their first foray into something even grander, something that could dovetail onto that stack and turn Zoho into a real ERP contender.  The question is: Is Zoho FSM enough?

If you’ve known Zoho for any length of time, you know that improving their software continuously is one of their strong points.  They’re one of the companies that seem to lead in this category, giving you real value every time you renew your monthly subscription to one of their apps.  As opposed to some companies, whose software you may use every month, but it’s basically the same software–and, additions of new fields in a module are cause for New Release! announcements.

Hot Take: How do we feel so far?

Even with knowing all this, it’s tough to say how quickly Zoho FSM will be able to deliver on its promise.  But, we at ZBrains are hoping Zoho is able to push this app out to market quickly.

Now… that may seem like a strange comment for someone unfamiliar with what we do at ZBrains.  But, to explain: we don’t just provide Zoho consulting services here.  We’ve actually developed a whole ERP framework for Zoho called FieldTech.

So, at first glance, it would appear that this field service management app from Zoho is in direct competition with the FieldTech offering.  And, sure, in some ways, it is.  But, not in all ways, as we’ll discuss soon.

zoho fsm or fieldtech

So, why is the addition of Zoho FSM a good thing?

It’s a good thing because it gives you, as someone who may want us to help you one day, one more potential option for your field services, construction, manufacturing, or tech business to use as a field service management platform.  Connect that to your Zoho CRM, and suddenly managing your entire business through Zoho doesn’t seem so insurmountable.

Of course, we’d love for you to use our FieldTech offering.  But, we understand it may not be for everyone.  Zoho Field Service Management seems to be geared more towards scheduling appointments or work orders, work order management, and invoices related to those WOs.  FieldTech, on the other hand, tackles those areas and adds the possibility of custom quoting, advanced inventory management, shop orders, job costing, and commission calculation.  So, whereas Zoho FSM is one single app, FieldTech has a Service Order Management component–and a suite of other, connected field service apps.

The costs of using FieldTech versus Zoho field service management are different, too.  Zoho Field Service Management offers a price per appointment model, whereas FieldTech’s pricing is per user.  If a company needed to decide between the two platforms based on pricing alone, it’s hard to see which way the org would go.  At least so far.

But, essentially, as long as you’re using a Zoho service to manage your field service business, that’s a victory for us.

Does this mean we’re going to stop developing FieldTech?

Quite the contrary!  We aren’t privy to Zoho’s overarching vision for this app, or vision for any other apps they may want to connect to it in the future.  If Zoho stopped at just field service management, that would be fine.  But, as you can probably tell by the host of other features inside FieldTech, we’ve never intended to stop there with that suite.  We improve the platform on a weekly basis, and it’s only a matter of time until we release some new apps for the suite.

We’re guessing that Zoho’s FSM app will work well for users with a simpler use case.  And, our FieldTech Service Order Management app will work better for organizations with more complicated needs–either just for field service management, or organization-wide.

What should you do with regards to Zoho FSM?

zoho fsm or fieldtech

If you have access to the app, test it!  We’ll certainly be doing the same.  Any experience you have on the Zoho platform will help you make a more informed choice about which apps will work best for you.

As always, we will keep you in the loop about any Zoho FSM developments.  And, when the full version of the app finally comes out, rest assured we’ll provide a full breakdown of features, as well as an official comparison between FSM and FieldTech.

If you’re still a little in the dark about what to do, get in touch with us for a free introductory consultation, where we can talk about how FSM, FieldTech, or any other Zoho app would potentially affect your business.

Should you use Zoho Finance or FieldTech?

Should you use Zoho Finance, or FieldTech?

Like with all things Zoho, your software choice should depend on your business.

fieldtech zoho finance

There’s a new player in town when it comes to the ERP side of Zoho.  We released FieldTech formally several months ago, and while a good number of companies enjoy its benefits today, it isn’t always clear what the differences are between FieldTech and the Zoho Finance platform at large.  So, we present this post in hopes of clearing that up.

When should you use Zoho Finance?

If your accounting and ERP needs are relatively simple–or if you don’t use inventory–you may not need anything more than Zoho Finance.  Finance works well for professional services companies, as well as distributors with very light or uncomplicated inventory.  For anything a little more complex, Zoho’s custom functions can transmit information between the modules of different apps, and workflow automation can speed up slow processes and prevent certain tasks from falling through the cracks.

fieldtech zoho finance

And, for anything more complex than that, businesses can use Zoho Creator to built separate apps to then connect to the Finance platform.  These apps give these businesses ways to manipulate their data that Zoho Finance could not do on its own.

The drawback to simply building your own Zoho Creator ERP apps is doing so takes lots of time: Someone has to architect your solution given the way you do business, then actually build and implement it for you.  This is one of the chief reasons we built FieldTech: to address this potential need of many companies who wouldn’t be satisfied with just Zoho Finance, and who don’t have the time to develop their very own apps.

When should you use FieldTech?

Zoho Finance’s familiar array of features suits the needs of a lot of businesses.  But, the suite tends to alienate several other kinds of companies inadvertently:

fieldtech zoho finance

These kinds of companies depend on certain features available in ERP software that Zoho Finance doesn’t provide, or only partially provides.  Things like:

  1. Complex, mobile quote creation on-the-fly (with a CPQ tool)
  2. Assisted scheduling of appointments or work orders
  3. Work order management, including tracking time, materials used, and equipment
  4. Production (manufacturing) order management
  5. Advanced inventory management, including MRP and an RMA module
  6. Job costing, factoring in both labor and materials
  7. Commission calculation for salespeople

And, this isn’t to say those companies with these needs can’t use Zoho Finance at all!  They can, and often do–sometimes to their detriment–for years.

The point is Zoho Finance isn’t always enough for these companies.

The reason for FieldTech’s existence

As Zoho consultants, we get calls about the shortcomings of many Zoho apps, including the Finance suite, on a daily basis.  Zoho Corporation is notorious for improving apps and releasing features at a breakneck pace, but this doesn’t usually translate into accommodating the sort of requests we were getting (and still get) from the kinds of companies mentioned before.

Eventually we wisened up to the fact that our customers needed more than what standard Zoho apps could reasonably offer, at the pace it was needed.  So, over the course of years, we built the FieldTech platform to help address these needs.

Is it possible to use both suites at once?

fieldtech zoho finance

As Zoho Finance isn’t always enough for some businesses, and FieldTech can supplement the Finance suite’s features,  many companies find it useful to use both Zoho Finance and FieldTech together.  The FieldTech suite has many standard integrations with Zoho Books, Zoho Inventory, Zoho CRM, and even Zoho Desk.

Could we cut out Zoho Finance entirely?

From time to time, people ask us why they need Zoho Finance at all, if FieldTech works so well as a sort of Zoho ERP.  The answer is that Zoho Finance, in spite of its shortcomings, packs a lot of extremely useful accounting functions and third-party banking integrations.  We could develop these things for FieldTech too, but, except in very extreme cases, we’d be reinventing the wheel.  Better to let Zoho do what they do best.

Get the full Zoho Finance vs FieldTech Feature List

This post serves as a very general overview of Zoho Finance vs FieldTech.  But, if you’d like to really dive into the weeds and explore the full feature list, we’ve got you covered.  The feature list shows exactly where FieldTech shines, where Zoho Finance shines, and where the capabilities of the two overlap.  It also breaks features down by category for easy navigation.

Contact us using this form and we’ll send you the full feature comparison list.



Team members gather to discuss the benefits of job costing

The Many Benefits of Job Costing

The Advantages of Using Zoho ERP with the ZBrains Job Costing Extension

zoho erp job costing

Job costing is a phenomenal way for businesses owners to stay on top of their finances and ensure they are on budget across all projects. The ZBrains Zoho Job Costing Appbuilt by our Zoho Creator experts, offers businesses of varying industries a pathway towards greater financial management and allocation of resources. When performed correctly, job costing ensures employees are being utilized smartly. Traditionally, job costing is associated with manufacturing and construction companies. However,  service companies (law firms, accounting businesses, and private investment companies) also have a lot to gain from this application. Plus, medical services businesses, film studios, and retail companies likewise can utilize job costing to great effect.

Evaluate Quotes, Manage Proposals, and Plan Ahead in One Convenient Place

Companies often rely on multiple software platforms to track expenses and coordinate their budget planning.  The beauty of our job costing app is having all your data conveniently housed in one place. Want to adjust a proposal to include more line items within a single deal? Done. Looking to monitor the work load for multiple employees? You got it. This application takes all expenses into account, including labor, materials, and employee wages, to give you an accurate picture of your business as a whole. Planning for the future is easier with Zoho Job Costing as a result, because you can see the true cost of every job. For a great job costing example, see this job costing example.

zoho erp job costing workflow

Organize your Team and their Individual Workflows

Any great manager can speak to the difficulty of monitoring multiple team members at once, and this app significantly eases that process. See where your efforts are pointed, and re-assign team members as needed. Perhaps you have a go-to worker for smaller, short window projects and another ace in the hole for complex, longer term projects — the job costing module lets you track their progress and add to their plates as you see fit. Another aspect to consider is the speed of a worker compared to another. This job costing app enables you to assign a junior employee to a lower priority project and a senior specialist to a project that needs to be completed as quickly as possible.

Optimize your Business Strategy

As with any great tool, the way you use it determines how much value you extract from it. So it is with the job costing module: when used to its full potential business owners can see how their resources are being utilized. For example, maybe there is an uptick in jobs requiring stone, or a decline in jobs requiring lumber. With the job costing module you can take stock of your resources and adjust as needed. This makes life easier for you and your employees and helps you avoid resource shortages and surpluses alike. Job costing is but one element, one spoke in the wheel that is Zoho ERP Software, which helps your business sync with inventory, order management, and financial data.

zoho erp job costing integration

Zoho integration: The ultimate advantage

Above all else, the reason you’ll want to consider the Zoho Job Costing tool we’ve developed is its deep integration with Zoho CRM.  By using our Zoho integration and allowing the two systems to communicate, you’ll be opening your employees’ eyes to a much easier method of calculating job costs.  Integration allows for data to be synced between systems at the very least, eliminating double-entry.  And, at most, you could even access the Zoho Creator Job Costing module from inside the CRM, for a truly unified user experience.

If you have questions about this Job Costing module, another Zoho Creator app in our arsenal, or anything related to CRM or Zoho customization, we’re happy to lend you an ear.  Contact us today and a certified Zoho consultant will get back to you as quickly as possible.

4 Common Problems Manufactuers Face and how zoho and zbrains can solve them

Top 4 Problems Manufacturers Experience and how ZBrains can help!

zoho manufacturing

Manufacturers hold the most important position of all at the figurative heart of most any tangible good: if they hadn’t made it, you wouldn’t have it.  Even with such an obvious thought – and so much importance given to manufacturers generally – many of these companies still operate at a fraction of their full potential, owing largely to problems that are in their control but not always so easy to really sit down and tackle.

Here are 4 common issues in the manufacturing industry that Zoho and ZBrains can help improve.

Lack of Lean Manufacturing Methodology

Lean may be the way to go for some, but many businesses still struggle with outdated production methods, multiple exchanges of inventory, too-large lots, and below-average build quality as a result.  Many of these issues stem from a simple lack of a system to help manage production correctly, and implementing a system that accounts for leaner manufacturing can quite literally help turn a struggling business around – or even just help boost sales and improve productivity.  Zoho Inventory can help manage inventory in multiple warehouses, and the more robust Zoho Creator ERP can help you order your raw materials more effectively, manage your picking, and even optimize your production routing, all ultimately helping to reduce wasted product and time.

zoho manufacturing forecasting mobile

Subpar Forecasting

If you don’t know who’s buying what, and when they’re buying it, you’re left with too much or too little to move your product at the correct pace. Future forecasting in Zoho Inventory gives you better visibility into what is needed with custom dashboards and less data input. Insights into customer trends and demands gives valuable feedback into what your optimal reorder point is and can help you use older inventory as needed. Data-driven insights help you understand your customers on a whole new level, allowing for more accurate forecasting into the material needs for production.

Bad Customer Experience, Leading to Worse Business Experience

Are you getting your customers what they want, when they want? With the advent of online reviews and the popularity of the instant gratification mentality, consumers have more input than ever before.  Sales can definitely be stifled by bad data or inaccurate lead times, and your customers can definitely be disappointed by the slow turnaround. At times, products are even sent to market without proper development because somewhere else in the supply chain, someone dropped the ball, and you’re left to pick up the slack. Maybe you just have a supplier that simply doesn’t suit your operation anymore. These are all common issues that can contribute to a less-than-stellar customer experience.  However, using a tool like Zoho CRM can give you not only the visibility you need to gauge the overall health of your manufacturing or distribution business, but can directly help your sales staff engage your customers and vendors – and, in the process help you see where to improve things.

zoho manufacturing chart

Resistance to R&D

If you’re not already ahead of the curve and using a streamlined ERP solution to manage your inventory and orders, changing the way your business operates to adapt to the technological environment may seem daunting. Why bother if resistance from your team or adaption to new technology will only take away from the main goal of delivering a product, right? Adopting new technology to fuel your business isn’t just a set-it-and-forget-it phase; it requires continuous input and adaptability. But, when done correctly, you’ll find your business flows like never before, with less waste, and even less money spent!

At ZBrains, we’re here to help you face all these problems head-on with the help of our Zoho certified consultants and our slew of software solutions.  Interested in learning more? Reach out to a member of our team today! Give us a call at (888) 207-4111 or click the button below and we’ll reach out to you.

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The ZBrains Fit and Partnership Business Growth with Zoho

The ZBrains Fit – A Partnership Focused On Your Growth

When it comes to choosing a Zoho partner to be your number one resource for all things Zoho, you already know you have options – pages and pages of them, according to Zoho’s list of resellers.  We’re acutely aware of this, and we’re so glad we have your attention right now.  Knowing you have so many options means we’ve had to go to great lengths to differentiate ourselves from other firms – and, having spent nearly six years as a Zoho partner, we can confidently say we offer just the service you need to ensure your success on the platform. Whether it’s a customized consulting session, a made-to-order automated solution, or even an integration to a third-party system, we’re committed to growing your business with Zoho.

Here’s some of what we bring to your table as your Zoho implementation partner.

zoho surveyConsulting Services

As a Zoho Premium Partner and Zoho Certified Consultancy, we focus on expertise, impact, and efficiency. We aim to bridge the gap between a business’ needs and available technology solutions, bringing a specialized skill set that enables you to make smart technology investments, improve your practices, and save time and money. Our Business Process Analysis (BPA) aims to increase your company’s efficiency, using the Zoho stack as a framework, and ensure a successful implementation by allowing us to truly understand your sales and operations processes with an in-depth review and analysis. And, with a range of options for your other Zoho needs, we are here to maximize your potential!

zoho surveyZoho ERP

Not all businesses are alike, and this is especially true of manufacturers and distributors. With Zoho ERP software, you’ll be able to customize every aspect order management and vendor tracking with the power of Zoho Creator, as well as generate accurate insight into performance by syncing with inventory and financial data. Zoho ERP is the solution for businesses who are seeking to create efficiency, automate processes, gain insights and more.  Update: Zoho ERP has evolved into the FieldTech suite, which packs all the features above and more.  It’s great for businesses in field services, construction, manufacturing/distribution, and tech/SaaS.

zoho surveyIntegrations and Custom Solutions

We are proud to have a team of developers and strategists who are focused on solving any problem that comes our way.  Having this team in our very own office means we can think of solutions and build them relatively quickly. In fact, this is how we created custom add-ons like our Commission Calculator and our SmartScheduler. We also provide completely customized integrations to programs like QuickBooks Desktop, Online, and Sage Intacct, and we provide even more plugin power for Google Apps, MailChimp, HelloSign, and more.

zoho surveyTeam Training and Support

When it comes to an implementation of any kind, if your staff is not trained on the new software system, they won’t know what to do once the job is over and the consultant is gone. With the ZBrains team, you don’t have to worry about that! We offer training on Zoho applications to ensure that your team has everything it needs to be fully on board. We work with every level of management to ensure success, and even provide annual support plans for that extra push you might need throughout the year.

The ZBrains Team Members Zoho Consulting and Consultants

Want to learn more about us? Check out our one of our case studies here or here to learn about how we’ve helped them or Meet the Team!

Interested in learning more about Zoho? Give us a call at (888) 207-4111 or click the button below and we will contact you!


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