Before project-based business software headed to the cloud and became the flexible family of apps we know today – like Zoho – lots of companies were forced to bend to the will of their software, and had procedural problems because of that. Businesses handling lots of projects have been hampered by a limited way to visualize task dependencies, non-intuitive reporting, and a general lack of integration with other apps. In some cases, companies have even found it easier to simply track projects with spreadsheets – and, that comes with its own host of issues. What can a company in that situation do?
Fortunately, Zoho has revamped their Projects app to bring those very elements to the businesses that need it the most. The updated Zoho Projects includes better reporting, more task dependencies, and a host of integrations that make data flow automatic, so you can focus on doing real work.
Here’s a rundown of the new features in Projects.
Enhanced Gantt Charts
The success of any project is ultimately measured by two questions: Was it on time, and was it within budget? In project management, these two conditions are managed by a tool called the Gantt chart. The updates to Zoho Projects has enhanced their already great Gantt charts.
Supports all Task Dependencies
Gantt charts organize tasks based on dependencies, and they help you visualize a critical chain of tasks that have to be completed as assigned in order to keep a project moving at its scheduled pace. Inevitably, when projects start creeping outside of their timelines, rising costs come with them, so it’s important to keep on top of tasks as closely as possible. Zoho Projects has always been a great tool to manage Finish to Start dependencies, but is now prepared to provide four more!
Here’s a refresher on the five task dependencies now supported in Zoho Projects.
Finish to Start – A task or activity is unable to start until a previous task or activity that it is dependent on has finished. For example, in a construction project, you can’t install a door or window until the framing is finished.
Start to Start – A task or activity must start before another activity can begin. For example, furniture can’t be installed until carpet installation has begun.
Finish to Finish – A task or activity must be finished before another activity can finish. For example, a new electric dryer can’t be tested before the proper electrical wiring had been placed.
Start to Finish – An activity must start before another activity finishes. For example, old plumbing pipe must be removed before new pipe can be set in its place.
Unscheduled Tasks – Predefined dependencies for tasks that don’t have a start or end date.
View and Edit Dependencies with Ease
The new Gantt Chart eliminates the Dependency Tab from Zoho Projects. Now, you can view, edit, and reorder your dependencies by clicking and dragging between the Jump to task bar icons in the left panel. The dependency graph is also available in the Task Details page, where you can view and edit the dependencies that a task shares with other tasks. You can even set your preferred or most frequently used dependency types as defaults by going to the Setup page and choosing Task and Timesheet under Org Settings. It is here that you can also decide which actions should occur when a task is advanced, postponed, or rescheduled.
Project Timeline Gantt Chart
Every great tool is made better when it provides valuable feedback into the health of your business. In this case, the new Project Timeline Gantt chart update provides insight into the progress and health of your projects. You can quickly get a clear visual of your projects and upcoming milestones, and even get all details of a task, including: percentage complete, duration, start date, end date, and owner. The Gantt bars show the lengths of time your projects span and how far along they are, while an easy drag-and-drop helps you reschedule tasks if needed. You can also edit tasks and milestones directly inside the Gantt chart, saving from you having to switch to another view.
Manage your People, and your Meetings
All, successful projects depend on a host of other factors in conjunction with a well-laid schedule. Zoho Projects is prepared to help you manage them that much better! Every project needs manpower, but scheduling the correct people has historically had to be handled separately—until now.
Zoho People Integration
Zoho People now integrates with Projects! This allows for both vacation and time-off requests, as well as managerial approval, all within one platform. It also allows for enhanced visibility and mitigates issues that may arise when your workers are unavailable. Work can be reallocated, as employee leave data is reflected in both the Project Calendar and Resource Utilization chart.
Zoho Meetings Integration
The new Zoho Projects not only helps you manage your team better, but it also helps you manage your time better. We all know the amount of time it can task to set up and coordinate meetings with your team, whether they happen frequently or they’re just last-minute. With the new Zoho Meeting integration, you easily meet with your team to collaborate and provide clarity, resolve issues, and help make decisions by simply click Meet Now on the Task Details page!
Customized Controls and Views
Zoho Projects has a few more updates which will help your projects and your workflow run more smoothly. For example, using timers within a task or project used to mean you had stop and restart from the beginning. Now the timers have been enhanced to allow for pausing and resuming tasks while you take a break or switch to a new task. Zoho Projects has even added new custom views and capabilities for creating task views based on the field value conditions that you set. Furthermore, you can filter tasks from your master list and save those filter criteria as a new view. This update helps you get to the information you need more efficiently.
Interested in learning more? Reach out to a member of our team today! We are Zoho Certified Consultants here to help! Give us a call at (888) 207-4111 or click the button below and we’ll reach out to you. You can also register for one of our upcoming Stump the Chump webinars Friday, Jan. 19th at 9 am PST or Friday, Jan. 26th at 9 am PST. Ask your Zoho questions, and if you stump us, we’ll buy you coffee!
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New Zoho CRM is back with a vengeance after its facelift
If you haven’t already heard about the new Zoho CRM interface and new Zoho CRM features that were all rolled out in earnest over the past few weeks, you’ve probably been living under a rock – or, you’ve just been really busy. Don’t worry! It happens to me, too.
Before Zoho rolled out the new UI, however, they very quietly rolled it out to their partner network so we could all become familiar with it before we started helping people build out their own systems. And, let me tell you: it is gorgeous. But, that’s not even what I wanted to talk about.
Zoho proves with this new iteration of their CRM that beauty is much more than skin-deep. I’ve put together 5 ways this Zoho CRM changes the game completely – and puts you firmly in command of your system.
1. Schedule a script to run independently instead of as part of a workflow rule
This is really nifty. Zoho workflow automation has always been handy, but, up to this point, if you wanted the system to carry out a task for you, that task would have to be based on some other action taking place, like the creation or editing of a record. That would make it impossible for you to run a custom script that wasn’t based on an action – like, say, to sync data from Zoho to Google Drive (or some other cloud-based system) at the end of every workday. But, with this new capability, there’s no more limitation in that arena, and you don’t need to base a scheduled script upon performing an action!
2. Automatically trigger leads to convert based on set criteria
Workflow rules now extend to lead conversion, so if your Lead record matches that special criteria you set for qualification, you don’t even have to press convert anymore. For people who have hundreds of things going on – and might be prone to forgetting to convert their Leads to Potentials – this is a lifesaver, but, it’s also good for new salespeople who might not be sure what your exact lead conversion criteria are. If you tell your CRM what those conditions are, it takes the work off your salespeople’s plates.
3. Set multiple layouts per module
Have you ever wished you could add another layer of granularity to your record separation game? With the new CRM, you can plan separate page layouts for any module in Zoho – even custom ones! This comes in handy if, for example, you deal with multiple kinds of leads. While you’ll want to keep track of all your sales activities, you probably won’t want to take potential partners down the same sales funnel as your regular prospects. The new Zoho CRM allows for multiple completely custom page layouts so you can take every kind of Lead, Potential, or Account down the sales path that’s best for your business.
4. Gamify your CRM activities!
Sales gamification is a great motivator, as I’ve mentioned before. In the new Zoho CRM interface, Zoho takes the same great idea they’ve applied to Zoho Projects (and on which they developed an entire app in Zoho Motivator) and applies it to the CRM – and, as it is in Projects, it’s a great tool to drive proper use of the system. If you don’t believe it, just imagine this: After starting a contest, all your salespeople start taking notes on pertinent records, converting Leads to Potentials, and completing tasks in the CRM… It might sound like a pipe dream, but with Gamescope for the CRM, all you have to provide is the incentive; the CRM takes care of the contest itself (and provides fun, encouraging notes to users who complete enough CRM tasks even if you don’t provide a prize to the daily victor).
Any mobile CRM app is a great idea: All sorts of working people benefit from accessing their database on the go, whether it’s technicians out in the field or executives looking to stay abreast of current happenings from outside the office. But, from the Zoho CRM mobile app it wasn’t always possible to see all your custom reports dashboards in one place… And, now it is. So, rather than have to thumb (or finger) through pages of data from a smaller screen, you can just do the same thing you’d do in the office – look at your beautiful reports and know at a glance how your business is running.
But, wait… There’s more!
Zoho, the overachieving developers they are, have done much more than this in the new Zoho CRM design, so for a full breakdown I recommend taking a glance at the article Zoho put out on the subject. Or, better still, if you aren’t using Zoho yet, sign up for a free trial.
These days especially, we live in a society of instant gratification. The examples of this sort of culture are everywhere: paying for goods on credit because it’s faster and easier than cash, watching hours of videos instead of thumbing through bulky books, racing to the hobby shop to get the newest gadget ahead of your friends… But, rather than decry this movement like the majority of these kinds of articles, I’m here to endorse it. For business, it really works.
The idea is this: the payoff that comes with completing a task is great, but some things simply can’t fall into the instant gratification bucket. Things like taking care of customer support tickets, resolving bugs, prioritizing your list of tasks, and the like. All tedious stuff! So, how do you make it fun to do?
By making it into a contest, of course!
[caption id="attachment_1833" align="alignnone" width="635"] Like this, only faster-paced and with a better plotline.[/caption]
Much like Zoho Motivator, Gamescope allows users to create contests out of normal workday scenarios, making the mundane not only more palatable, but even fun for you and your staff. Whereas Motivator focuses on sales goals, Gamescope expands the playing field to engineers and other taskmasters, allowing for time-based awards (how quickly did you get through 5 tasks or solve 5 bugs?), activity-based awards (how many tasks did you complete today? This week?), and even company-wide user profiles complete with badges, perfect for gloating about achievements with teammates. I mean, coworkers.
Based on the kind of work you do, the number and types of games you can set in Gamescope is extensive, and employees don’t have to partake – although, as a team leader, I’m sure you can think of a good prize to go with the virtual badges (team members with the most badges gets free lunch!), or a good punishment for the day’s loser (maybe he has to buy pizza for the whole team!). Hell, I’d even be okay with losing once in a while if pizza were part of the punishment.
Here are a list of the trophies available with Gamescope:
So, we see that there are respective trophies for task-masters and for bug-solvers. Gamescope trophies are awarded for each time a team member does a number of different actions, such as add a task or bug, resolve a task or bug, re-open a task or bug…etc. Everything can be scored, essentially, and games can be won based on total points or number of a certain type of trophy. Of course, the Projects administrator can set the number of points available for each trophy, or whether a given trophy is turned on or off for a certain day – great for getting the team to focus on certain objectives and not others.
Along with trophies, team members can earn badges:
Badges are earned by completing broader, less immediate tasks (completing 10 tasks in a day, for example). As team members earn these over longer periods of time, adding these up is great for determining the winner of a weekly, monthly, or even quarterly contest. And, as with trophies, your administrator can turn badges on or off, or set the requirements for each Gamescope badge.
Custom badges are also available, and you can base awarding those on custom requirements, of course.
So, why use Gamescope?
Well, if the prospect of pizza wasn’t enough, I don’t know what’s going to sway you, but, here’s what I’ve come up with:
Increase office morale. Even if you like your coworkers, nothing’s worse than coming in to the same battery of assignments or tickets day-in and day-out. Adding the prospect of a reward for achievement to the mix with Gamescope will get people excited to do the tasks they once thought menial because of the potential payoff at the end of the road.
Increase camaraderie or competition – and fun. Enjoying coming in to work is one thing; pitting your employees against each other (in good fun, of course) is another entirely! With Gamescope, you can add an entire dimension of competition to your workplace by giving prizes only to the top daily or weekly task- or bug-closer. (Scarcity makes us want prizes even more.) Or, pit the taskmasters against the bugcatchers and see who comes out on top!
Increase productivity. This should go without saying. Adding a spirit of competition and fun to the workday at your office will make people want to do the tasks they’re supposed to do, whether it’s because they get to face off against their friends, help each other towards a common goal, or just earn a merit-based prize because they completed a number of tasks. Either way, you win.
Increase correct Zoho Projects usage. Often you’ll see that tasks are carried out and customers seem happy enough, but when you run the numbers they look absolutely terrible. This can usually just be attributed to bad record keeping, but when your record keepers are your staff, it can be hard to get them to adopt your method of tracking things. Rewarding your staff in Gamescope for doing things the way you want them to be done – assuming you like when tasks are completed and bugs are resolved, which is what Zoho Projects was meant to track – is a great way to increase correct Zoho Projects usage.
Time to get gaming!
In summary, if your engineers or project managers aren’t using Zoho Projects, go ahead and start! It’s a great way to organize and prioritize tasks and keep everyone on the same page. And now, with Gamescope for Zoho Projects, you have another way to keep your team members engaged and on task (in Zoho Projects and at work in general).
[caption id="attachment_1835" align="alignnone" width="1028"] Already more engaged than my teammates.[/caption]
Zoho says they plan to roll Gamescope out in a few more of their apps in the future. I’m thinking Zoho Support, SalesIQ, or even Zoho CRM in general would be good candidates, but we’ll see what they end up doing.
With that in mind, if you need help with Zoho Projects or want to know more about Gamescope, give us a call (888) 207-4111. Or, just contact us and we’ll get back to you.