Need Zoho information or help due to COVID-19? Let us know.

Category : Zoho Features

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.


Connect with a Consultant


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?


Connect with a Consultant


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.


Connect with a Consultant


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!


Connect with a Consultant


Using KPI's to manage your business

Manufacturing and Distribution KPI’s to Manage Your Business 

In this three part series we ask you to consider, What are the top key performance indicators (KPI’s) for your industry? Are you using KPI’s to manage your business successfully? Do you track, report, and utilize this data regularly to improve your manufacturing or distribution business? In this segment, we’ll look at KPI’s and considerations for manufacturing and distribution organizations.

manufacturing in a canning facility

There’s a good chance you’re experiencing the same current reality as a lot of manufacturing and distribution organizations in 2020. You’ve been impacted by a global pandemic; you could be slowing down, frequently starting and stopping, performing lay-offs, and shifting the How and What that have long been a focus. You might find yourself in a position to redefine or even re-invent some or many aspects of your business. McKinsey and Co. recently shared that redeploying talent, improving productivity, and shifting operations are three of five recommendations for reinventing your organization, post-Covid. We agree, and have taken on some of these ourselves here at ZBrains.


Using KPI’s to Manage Your Business

If you’re reading, and you’ve already identified  – and are successfully using – data to capture KPI data for business insight, we’d like to present you with a stretch goal as you read through the article. Consider the competitive advantage of your business, the thing that sets you apart from your competitors. 

  • What differentiates you? 
  • And are you able to measure it today? 
  • How would your business change if you could measure and act on your differentiator? 

Perhaps the content in this article can help trigger some ideas for you.

If your KPI’s are unknown or underutilized, you might be losing out on opportunities to set you up for a better trajectory in an unstable environment. We recommend this article for examples of some Key Performance Indicators for your industry. While there are many, many more than listed, the KPI’s we share are more or less universal for each industry where they’re listed. We hope it gives you ideas about the other data you want to capture. (You may even want to bookmark this article for reference again later.)

Keep reading for KPI’s by industry for manufacturing and distribution, and some thoughts about how you can put them into action with Zoho.


Manufacturing Industry KPI’s

The metrics required to successfully operate your manufacturing business are many and varied depending greatly on how and what your business is doing. However, speed and accuracy are paramount to doing it successfully with a gainful ROI. Here are three metrics for manufacturing that we think are fundamental KPI’s.

  • Overall Operating Efficiency

This high-level metric is the ratio between output and input in your business. Are you getting out what you’re putting in? This metric can also apply to employees in terms of “are they maximizing their ‘on’ time and creating value for the business.”

  • Profit Per Employee

As a lag measure, Profit per Employee can show you which lead measurements are progressing perfectly, or which areas need attention. This measure can help you bring to light the areas where profitability could be improved. 

  • Capacity Utilization

This KPI gives insight to one of the most important pieces of information for manufacturing businesses: Is your production being fully utilized? There are associated costs to equipment, people, and space. You can ensure that each is being maximized as needed using this data. Additionally, capacity utilization can give visibility to work balancing as certain production centers are selling more or less at different times.  

What additional KPI’s are essential to your manufacturing operations?


Distribution Industry KPI’s

Total sales, cashflow, and margin are essential metrics for distribution, but they’re arguably necessary for most types of businesses. Whether your business is ecommerce, industrial equipment, consumer goods, or something different, you still need to know much of the same standard information. With that in mind, three important metrics to track in your distribution center are:

distribution center KPI

  • Inventory Turnover Ratio

This metric will give you purchasing trend insight. As a result it can show you which items may not be advantageous to keep, or which items require higher inventory levels.

  • Profitability by Item

You can inform larger strategies by knowing which areas (products, customers, and markets) are most profitable for you. Your Distribution and Sales Teams will thank you for making this data available! 

  • On Time Shipping Ratio

Compare items or distribution centers, and find trends in shipping for performance improvement opportunities. This data can inform things like warehouse product organization, capacity utilization, and more whether it be an overall systemic issue or an item specific one.

Does your company have any data that’s been difficult to lock in? ZBrains consultants specialize in helping you identify, organize, and utilize this information for better business results. We help you bring all the pieces together from quoting to inventory and finance


Why should you care about using KPI’s to manage your business?

We’ll end here with a quick summary of points to consider when you are researching KPI’s to use in your business. Think about which are most important to you, and can you get your hands on the data for them? Here six key reasons we think you should consider using KPI’s to manage your manufacturing or distribution business: 

  • KPI’s can offer early identification of issues (lead measures)
  • You get visibility to overall company health without a great outlay of executive time
  • Reference KPI’s and use them as guidance for decision making and strategy
  • High level metrics make it easy to communicate business goals with your environment
  • They will help you become familiar with patterns in your organization
  • Finally, they can key you in on significance in areas needing performance improvements


Why is Zoho a great solution for helping you capture and report the data you need for your business?

This all boils down to financials and time tracking each of the seemingly small areas of your business. They can add up to big results. Currently, you might be paying for a lot of systems, and a change to one can affect the others and require development expenses. Maybe you have to manage multiple vendors, or your teams are working from siloed data. You can run reports and gain visibility to your organization using Zoho’s end-to-end solution. 

Quit struggling to track your KPI’s, and avoid the disparate systems of data that make global reporting cost-prohibitive and time consuming.

If you’re taking the next steps to learn more about achieving more by using KPI’s to manage your manufacturing or distribution business, contact us any time.



Looking for more KPI’s? Read about Field Services and Construction or Technology and SaaS.

Zoho CRM Activities

Are you maximizing Zoho CRM Activity capabilities?

Is your organization getting the most it can out of your Zoho CRM activity data? Capturing CRM data is the heart of reporting and analytics for a lot of decision makers, and falling short in this arena can impact your business. Access to good data is a lifeline. 

It’s easy for users to fall into routine, and to use their CRM in the same old ways that are comfortable, familiar, and feel simple. And that’s the catch — it feels simple — when in reality, a slight change in a user’s data entry habits could garner information and efficiency gains for your business. Keep reading to find out if you are utilizing your Zoho CRM activity data capturing capabilities to the fullest. If you already are, maybe it’s time to consider employing some of Zoho’s newest features.  

Checklist: Do your users take advantage of Zoho CRM activity functions?

A number of Zoho CRM Activity features are standard and you may not be using them now.  Here’s a short checklist of low-hanging fruit you should really consider if they’re not already a part of operations.

⬚ Calendar Sync

Zoho CRM syncs with the following calendars:

  • Gmail / Google
  • Office 365
  • Outlook
  • Apple Calendar
  • Zoho CRM Calendar

Synching your calendar to Zoho CRM allows functions such as calling directly from the calendar for your scheduled activities. And it streamlines scheduling those follow up calls! 

Calendar sync also improves visibility with your teams. Calendars can be shared so other users can view them, and users can set email reminders for the people they’re engaging with. With a sync to Zoho CRM, users are able to edit and view their calendar activities on any device wherever they are.

⬚ Mobile Sales App

Speaking of “wherever,” the mobile sales app for Zoho CRM is another powerful tool for your teams in the field. From sales to service technicians, none of us is really ever without our mobile phone these days. Is your organization taking advantage of these opportunities to reference and capture data on the go?

  • Use global search to look up contacts, and call directly from the app. Notes can be typed in or use the voice-to-text feature by speaking notes into your phone!
  • When working offline, any changes made to Zoho CRM will automatically update and sync when you reconnect. No more wasted flight time, or worrying about not having a connection in the field.
  • With Zoho CRM mobile app, every activity for your day is available any time, and new ones can be scheduled there, too.
  • Find customers and prospects in your vicinity by viewing the map. Get the most out of sales conversations when you brush up on their details before calling or stopping in. (P.S. It can also navigate to the account address!)
  • Zia is available in Zoho CRM mobile app. This AI acts as a virtual assistant that can help with simple tasks like changing a deal status, calling contacts, creating a new record, and adding notes to records.

⬚ Workflow Automation

Being timely in interactions with leads and contacts is an essential part of ensuring a great customer experience. Zoho CRM helps with this when you implement Workflow Automation. After setting up, it can alleviate all the smaller tasks associated with a sale. Your team will appreciate the automated forms, reports, CRM notifications, and contact or lead follow-ups. Cutting down the noise helps create more space for efficiency. Your teams gain the time required to close deals, resolve customer pain points, and keep on top of upsell opportunities. 

Don’t forget — workflow insights show you what’s working, or not.

⬚ Custom Functions

Perhaps your Sales, Marketing, Operations, or Finance departments are all using Zoho and your business has a particular process that can’t quite be captured by Zoho’s many standard functions – enter the custom function.

Whether you do it yourself using Zoho Creator, or work with a consultant like ZBrains,  custom functions serve to assist in bringing your vision to reality. 

New Features in Zoho CRM for Activities and Beyond

At ZBrains, we took a particular interest in a handful of the new Zoho CRM features this year. Maybe you’ve already seen them? If you’re using any of these, are there opportunities to improve and refine your processes across departments? From segmentation and attribution to analytics, and sales pipelines, these new features allow you and your teams to get focused using a data-driven approach to business. Let’s take a look:

Customer Segmentation

Customer lifetime value is an incredibly important metric for most businesses because we know it’s easier to convert a sale when your client knows you already. Use this feature to find your most valuable customers  based on a model of recency, frequency, and monetary value of their purchases. Gauge their lifetime value with this tool and let your sales and marketing professionals identify existing up-sell or cross-sell opportunities.

Your business can further segment customers for focused selling or special campaign initiatives using dimensions like  product interest, geography, industry, or a combination of factors.

Call Customization

Now you can customize your incoming and outgoing call details. Capture sentiment, call purpose, or any data needed using pick lists, text fields, and more. Call customization can also include Workflows, allowing you to streamline the data required for various types of call interactions.  

Webform analytics & testing

Webforms in Zoho CRM is key in capturing new leads and the interests of your website visitors. Boost lead generation efforts with webform performance analytics. This new feature allows you to track webform fields and geographical information so you can more easily identify why your forms aren’t converting and revise them for better outcomes. Lead revenue can be attributed to your webforms, giving your business and end-to-end view of the most profitable leads.

A/B testing gives you the data needed to refine and improve lead capture with webforms. Your marketing team are not a mindreader, but this tool can get one step closer to delivering what appeals most to your website visitors. 

Remember, your webforms can connect right up to Workflow Automations to inform your sales agents immediately when valuable new leads enter the pipeline.

Marketing attribution

New Marketing Attribution features allow your business to fortify the connection between sales and marketing and continuously refine for results that improve over time.  You can identify:

  • Which campaigns result in the best ROI.
  • Which campaigns have attributable revenue.
  • Overall campaign performance.
  • Best performing sales & marketing channels.
  • Sales pipeline effects of your campaigns and more.

Multiple Pipelines

Every business is slightly different, and yours is likely no exception. This could mean that within your business you experience the need for multiple sales pipelines in order to accurately capture data like sales and marketing activities about your lead-to-customer journey. 

The new Multiple Pipeline feature in Zoho CRM enables your teams to capture that data in a meaningful way allowing for special pipeline factors like geography or territory, product line, and more. With multiple pipelines, you can create custom stages with specific activities and data entry requirements to meet your business needs. Then you can use this data in reporting to analyze your sales pipeline performances. 

Intelligent Automation

Earlier in the article, we mentioned Zia, the Zoho AI application that can help with tasks like creating activities, placing calls, and more. But with recent feature updates, Zia now assists with Intelligent Automation. It can suggest macros to automate that make the life of a sales agent or consultant much simpler, alleviating repetitive tasks that somehow suck up hours each week. Zia uses your routines to suggest macros, but they can also be created independently. 

Which repetitive sales routines would you automate?

Final Thoughts on Zoho CRM Activity uses and New Zoho CRM Features

No one knows your business better than you – so, you shouldn’t feel pigeonholed to use Zoho in a way that doesn’t make sense for your teams and your business. You can take advantage of the features we talked about above, gaining traction by employing their benefits and customizing your Zoho CRM environment. 

Whether you’ve decided to start on your own and need a little help, or are interested in assistance from our certified Zoho professionals, we’re here to sit down with you in a consulting engagement called a Business Process Analysis. [link Zoho Difference] Our goal is to learn about your business and offer a solid plan for moving forward – a technological roadmap.  Your plan will contain a certified Zoho solution, something we can stand behind. Contact us any time. 

Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite

Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite: Part 2 of the Ultimate ERP Showdown

This is part 2 of our comparison of NetSuite vs Zoho CRM.  You can read the first part right here.

Customer Service

A comparison of NetSuite vs Zoho CRM cannot be genuine without examining the customer support characteristics of both. In the end, any good product can be handicapped by sub-par customer service. Even experienced business owners can run into issues and time-sensitive problems that need immediate attention. The reality of NetSuite as a software is that the aforementioned problems of user experience and navigability bleed over into the customer service. When problems arise and NetSuite is markedly absent, it forces users to try and craft their own solutions and workarounds. This is a huge headache, especially compared to the ease of Zoho, with its interwoven network of applications. In the end, having a team of Zoho experts at your service gives you the peace of mind to attend to your business.

When you use Zoho, you have the advantage of Zoho Support and an interface that is easier to manage and maintain. Plus, you can rely on ZBrains with our support retainers to help you through issues with implementation. This setup stands in stark contrast to NetSuite, whose support plans are likely more expensive, necessitating a dedicated NetSuite resource that is pricier.

Winner: Zoho

Zoho is simply better in this category, with NetSuite customers forced to endure more expensive support that isn’t always readily available to meet your needs.

Who’s it For?

Comparing NetSuite vs Zoho CRM, it is evident that they offer some of the same functionality, but the two software programs are ultimately suited for different audiences. The price point of NetSuite makes it much less accessible for smaller companies; conversely, Zoho CRM is much more affordable, providing startups, small companies, and medium sized businesses with a fully baked  CRM / ERP solution that does not break the bank. Given the capacity of NetSuite, booming businesses that excel with Zoho CRM often make the jump to Oracle when they have the financial security.

When evaluating who uses NetSuite vs Zoho CRM, there are some important questions to consider:

  • How much will implementation cost?
  • How much will ongoing maintenance cost?
  • Will you have to hire an on-site expert?

These issues hearken back to customer service, more specifically how the Zoho Consulting and Support we at ZBrains provide is cost-effective. A final note on cost, ZBrains offers flexible pricing for consulting time – we offer hourly consulting  blocks a more desirable option than having to hire someone and pay them to be on-site as a full-time employee. (ZBrains wants to be part of your business solution, we aim to be a partner and not just a pump and dump IT shop).

The bottom line here is, we understand the unique needs of the industry, and our knowledge of manufacturing is translated directly into an ERP solution that can be personalized to your business.

Winner: Tie

There’s no clear favorite here, as both programs offer similar applications. However, the important distinction are the stark differences in support plans and the ERP gap that ZBrains bridges for Zoho users.

[yop_poll id=2]
Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite

Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite: The Ultimate ERP Showdown (Part 1)

Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite: The Ultimate ERP Showdown

zoho vs netsuite

Businesses of all sizes and industries operate efficiently with the help of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. From closing deals to managing budgets to juggling the schedules of multiple field technicians, these magical pieces of software help CEOs everywhere rest easy with invaluable automations. However, how do you decide which CRM is right for you? Choosing a CRM that works best for your business is no easy task; but, we aim to ease your concerns, answer your questions, and illustrate the pros and cons of two different software packages in this comparison article. Read on to discover the details of Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite: how they are similar, how they are different, and they affect the bottom line for your company.

Zoho vs NetSuite CRM Usability

A program’s ease of use significantly influences customer opinion of that software. This is so because a clunky UI can be incredibly frustrating and ultimately destroy buy-in for that software. Unfortunately, many NetSuite users have voiced their displeasure with the UI, commenting on it feeling outdated and depressing. You can read their thoughts on Oracle NetSuite, both good and bad hereOther complaints from NetSuite customers reference the subpar search function,  noting how difficult it is to find things and how the CRM is not intuitive. Last but not least, NetSuite has built a reputation for not integrating well with other systems.

By contrast, Zoho CRM is known for having a user friendly interface and marries all of its applications very well. Plus, if Zoho customers encounter any issues, we at ZBrains are here to help. Our team aims to please, as evidenced by our collection of useful integrations:

Winner: Zoho CRM

Ultimately, the frequency of user complaints about NetSuite gives Zoho the edge here.

zoho vs netsuite

Overall Value of the CRM

When discussing the overall value of Zoho vs NetSuite, it’s important to note that NetSuite carries the Oracle name. This distinction, in turn, makes the software more expensive. Although on the surface the applications within both CRMs appear to be the same, one can purchase Zoho for considerably less.

Also noteworthy in this category are the complaints of NetSuite users, who grumble about the CRM out of the box. Multiple users mentioned the hassle of having to buy more add-ins just to get the essentials of the software to function properly. This folds into an often overlooked cost, the implied cost. We will go into implied cost in more detail in a future article, but in essence, NetSuite support plans post launch are likely very expensive, requiring a NetSuite (Oracle) resource that is pricier in the long term.

Explained further, NetSuite is an ERP solution that has all the big-box player financial tools out of the box, as well as several integrations. On the other hand, Zoho out of the box does not have full ERP functionality, but it can be augmented quickly and cost effectively when combined with our Zoho ERP. The difference is that when you combine Zoho with our Zoho ERP the result is better than NetSuite because our solution incorporates a full end to end business engine into a single Zoho app suite.

Winner: Zoho CRM

Zoho tops NetSuite in this category, in particular because of the required add-ons you need for NetSuite in conjunction with the implied costs of future support.

This is part one of a two-part series.  Click here for more analysis in part two.

Thanksgiving blog

Zoho Apps That We Are Grateful For!

It’s Thanksgiving! It’s the perfect time to chow down, visit family and friends, and be happy and thankful for everyone in your life. In the spirit of the holiday, we would like to share some of the Zoho Apps that we are most grateful for with you! They can help you to optimize your potential and can keep you on-track and ready to close more, win more, and earn more.

Here are 4 Zoho Apps that we are grateful for!

Zoho appsZoho CRM

Zoho CRM is a powerful cloud-based customer and prospect management solution for your business. It is your most basic database where you can reach out to your customers and reference past work or projects, as well as forecast future sales – which you can use to make key decisions about your business. With Zoho CRM, you can set tasks and reminders to reach out to your customers in a timely and convenient manner, all for the purpose of giving your customers a smoother journey through your sales funnel. With a multitude of integrations, add-ons, and applications you can customize this CRM to fit your specific, unique business needs. Check out just how easy it is to migrate to Zoho!

Zoho appsZoho Sprints

Simplify project management for your business! This agile project management app designed to manage software sprints and help everyone get over their respective hurdles. A simpler project management solution than Zoho Projects, you can manage and track your team’s time and see where everyone stands using the Scrum Board. Use analytics which update in real time to help you make predictions, make adjustments, and identify bottlenecks. All of these features will make sure that your team is operating efficiently. Learn more here!

ZohoZoho apps Campaigns

Being able to keep in touch with your customers and prospects is important: it can convert uninterested leads into warmer prospects, and it can turn one-time customers into lifetime family members. Instead of toggling between various different apps for email marketing, you can use Zoho Campaigns. It integrates with your CRM to ensure that your data is always up to date. Campaigns also gives you massive insights into your email marketing campaigns so you can know how they performed and automate follow-up campaigns. Best of all, the integration with Zoho CRM offers unparalleled visibility into those engaged with your content and pipeline. Learn more about the power of Zoho Campaigns!

Zoho appsZoho Desk

Good customer service is important! Happy customers make life so much easier. Zoho Desk is that all-encompassing solution for your business in need of a ticketing system. Desk is context-aware and designed so your service never misses a beat. With in-depth reporting for management, detailed tickets and time tracking for agents, and a knowledge base for customers – this Zoho app help cover every level of customer service.

Love all of these Zoho Apps? Well, they are all included with Zoho One! If you are interested in learning more feel free to reach out to our team. Give us a call at (888) 207-4111 and schedule a consultation at a time that works best for you. You can also sign up for a free trial of Zoho by clicking the button below!

We here at ZBrains wish you a safe, happy, and delicious holiday!

[button color="red" url=""]Try Zoho For Free![/button]

Woman sitting at her desk reading about common crm issues and zoho solutions

3 Common CRM Issues and Their Solutions

When new clients come to us at ZBrains, we often hear one of two things – either they have faced significant challenges with a previous CRM software they have used and they’re ready to move on, or they have just signed with Zoho and are unsure where to start. With these two challenges, you could say that we’ve heard it all – from A to Z; so, you can be sure that we have answers to your common CRM issues.

After thousands of conversations with various clients, we’ve wrangled our experts at ZBrains to tell us their top 3 most common CRM issues from new clients. If you’re brand new to CRM management or perhaps you have questions about your current CRM, we’re sure you’ll identify with one (or more) of the challenges below.

Here are the top 3 common CRM issues (and their solutions).

Business woman on phone looking at Zoho mobile applicationChallenge: I can’t access my CRM on-the-go.

Imagine you want to access a client contact history while en route to a meeting, or away from your desk – but you can’t access your CRM through your phone. Ugh.

Solution: Discover a CRM that works on-the-go.

Challenge: My team does not know how to use my CRM properly.

Whether it’s because of lack of process or lack of training, your team just doesn’t understand or know how to use the major features of your CRM, it can be difficult to get your employees on-board entirely with your CRM.

Solution: Educate, Track, Customize.

Save time by tracking everything- from emails to phone calls, and meeting logs in between. Zoho has it all – enabling your team to make the most of your CRM. Have a program that educates your team on the benefits and use-cases before diving in head first. In our experience, this has truly made a difference in overall adoption and usage. Develop a solid process for your team and have customizable solutions for your business processes. Get started on the right foot by signing up for one of our Zoho implementation plans.

Challenge: My CRM doesn’t integrate with the software I use every day.

Are you always flipping through tabs, browsers, applications and spending far too much time logging-in, or recovering lost passwords?Is it just another application that you need to manage?

Solution: Find an all-in-one solution.zoho one

This is especially true for sales and marketing teams, who certainly use many, many applications on a daily basis. From CRM to email, social media posting applications and more, it can be a challenge to keep track of it all. Zoho One has 35+ integrated applications that encompass everything from CRM, email newsletters, documents, inventory, and more. Here at ZBrains, we offer additional add-ons and custom integrations for your favorite business products, such as QuickBooks, MailChimp, Magento, and more.

It’s important to find a CRM that can integrate with a variety of solutions to optimize the potential of your business. It will keep you on-track and ready to close more, win more, and earn more.

From employees using your CRM (properly) to finding software that works for all teams in your company, these are our top 4 common CRM issues and their solutions. They’ve been compiled by our Zoho certified consultants here at ZBrains who are here to help you with your burning questions.  Feel free to drop us a line!


[button color="red" url=""]Schedule a Consultation[/button]