It’s no secret that staying connected to customers, employees, vendors, and everyone in our business world has not been easy over the past 12 months. However, some companies are doing all that they can to make life (and business) easier for their customers. One example is Zoho. I love the way Zoho responded to the pandemic by creating a suite of their services to help customers, and their employees work remotely (ironically, their product is called “Remotely”).
Zoho Projects is another product that has recently gone through significant changes to help Zoho customers run better companies from anywhere. I recently spoke with Aravind Rajkumar from Zoho Projects to learn more about their upgrades, redesigns, and how they keep their customers moving forward.
Brian: Hi Aravind! Thanks for taking time today to talk about Zoho Projects. For our readers not familiar with Zoho Projects, can you give them some background? When did Zoho launch Projects? What problems does it solve? Who is/are the target customers for Projects?
Aravind: Hello Brian. I’m happy to answer all your questions for your readers. Zoho Projects was first created in 2006, for our internal product teams to plan, track and collaborate on their work. In August 2006, we decided to make Zoho Projects public and available for everyone to use to keep their own businesses organized. We have had numerous updates throughout the years, with Projects 7 coming out in January 2021.
Our initial target customer was IT and outsourcing companies, but we have evolved to include various other verticals including construction and professional service firms of all sizes. As of today, we have over 3 million users across the globe that manage their work with Zoho Projects.
Brian: Projects recently went through a major redesign. What are some of the new and more popular features of the new Projects application?
Aravind: Projects 7 came out just a month ago and we wanted to focus on making Projects faster and smarter. Among the hundreds of tweaks we’ve made to the UI to make it easier to use and more intuitive, some other notable updates are – better file management with built-in Zoho Workdrive, automation enhancements, improvements in resource utilization charts, and a portfolio dashboard which gives you a holistic view of all the tasks and baselines.
A few other popular features include:
– Choice of themes that match the business logo and dark mode
– The ability to import CRM contacts easily
– Single page layout to reach most functions and modules easily from the same page
– A better view of project timelines which allows users to see where a bottleneck might be and how to best fix it
Brian: What are your small and midsize business customers saying about the new version of Projects?
Aravind: Right before the January launch, we offered Projects 7 to a select group of customers and were able to gather their feedback. Customers immediately noticed the faster interface and were excited about the automation and filter options. Even the smaller changes such as the ‘dark’ mode we introduced and the option to customize colors to match their brand were a hit. Our customer, Rodriquez Consulting, a small business that works in land surveying said, “Zoho Projects has allowed us to replace whiteboards, Excel spreadsheets, and Microsoft Project files with one single enterprise solution that our entire team can depend on.”
Brian: Is Projects ideally positioned for companies operating remotely? Have you seen increased acquisition and usage since last March?
Aravind: Projects is a great fit for businesses working remote! At Zoho, we predicted that the future of work is remote, which is one of the reasons Zoho was able to fully transition all its 9000+ employees easily to working from home – we were always working on the cloud using our own tools (including Projects) and able to work from virtually anywhere. We have seen increase of usage over the last year, we have more than double the number of new users since March last year.
Brian: Do you have any customer stories about how Projects has helped them work remotely and stay connected to everyone in their ecosystem?
Aravind: A few great customer examples are SnowTech, a landscape management company, uses Zoho Projects to track their winter snow events and gives each division of their company a customized template and task list so they can see live reporting and information feedback. SnowTech also uses Projects to delegate task lists, store site maps, and information within those tasks, as well as seeing the overall progress of teams that are remote.
Another customer that has had great success with Projects helping with team management is fire protection services, FirePro. They use Projects to plan, track, schedule, prioritize, and executive tasks across their teams and make sure they stay connected on everything going on. Petros Avgousti, their marketing director says, “Zoho projects UI and UX is 10/10. The versatility of Zoho projects is what gives it its edge. The fact that it integrates with our CRM is the cherry on the cake.”
Brian: Is Projects offered in different languages?
Aravind: Yes, we support 18 different languages – Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Korean, and Turkish. We are also working on offering language support for RTL (Right to Left) script languages such as Arabic, soon this year.
Brian: Last question, what do you have in store for Projects in 2021? Do you get a lot of customer feedback on features they’d like to see in Projects?
Aravind: Oh yes, we do. In fact, we owe all our success to all the feedback from all our customers over these years. Some of our best features came to fruition because of listening to what is working well and not so well for our customers. We are happy to offer free support for all users, not just pad customers and this allows us to get a lot of new ideas and feedback to improve!
Since we get constant feedback from customer, we are always working on improvements. We will be releasing a lot of new features this year. The first one we will be testing will be Workflow rules, that will make users record their preferences and auto apply them to their work tasks inside Projects. Then we are looking at an overhaul of the mobile app, support for RTL (right to left) script languages like I mentioned earlier, and we are planning to launch a dedicated desktop app for Mac and Windows, which will be our first step towards making an on-premise version of Zoho Projects in the future.
Thanks Aravind for taking time today to speak to me and our readers. Keep up the great work and thank you for all the support you give to small business owners around the world!