Zoho Pros and Cons
Zoho Projects is a web-based project management software available at a relatively affordable price. It offers a wide variety of features, from Gantt charts and project budgeting to communication tools such as an in-built chat client, forums, and integration with Zoho Meeting, its sister video conferencing tool. With the use of Kanban boards, it can also be used for sprint planning and issue-tracking. Zoho Projects is a well-priced and feature-rich project management solution suitable for start-ups and big businesses alike.
Nonetheless, the user interface is slightly outdated and could do with a more modern refresh. Compared to other project management tools, it also has some catching up to do in terms of integrations.
In this Zoho Projects review, we will explore project management features, pricing, ease of use, add ons, and more.
What is Zoho Projects?
Zoho Projects is focused on helping businesses plan and organize projects, collaborate between team members, and track work efficiently. It is part of a suite of around 40 different web-based software by Zoho Corporation. The company was founded in 1996 by Sridhar Vembu and Tony Thomas under the name AdventNet, which focused on network management. Zoho Projects, in its current form, was introduced in 2006 and is one of the oldest project management solutions on the market.
Zoho Corporation has products for CRM, marketing, sales, collaboration, finance, HR, and IT. The company’s products are used by over 50 million people worldwide, including companies such as Dell, Vodafone, and Stanford University.
Facts and Figures
|Founder||Sridhar Vembu, Tony Thomas|
|Headquarters||Chennai, India and Pleasanton, California, USA|
Zoho Projects Project Management Features
Considering its affordable price point, Zoho Projects offers a solid host of features for any business looking for a general project management tool. Zoho Projects facilitates collaboration with project management features such as Gantt charts, time-tracking, project budgeting, issue tracking, capacity planning, and more. Collaboration outside of the team is also possible. Teams looking for project management tools with extensive resource management and Agile features should consider alternative software.
Zoho Projects helps businesses plan projects more effectively. Teams can assign and automate tasks, keep track of work statuses with the Kanban board, and generate project timelines with the Gantt chart tool. Though Zoho Projects does not offer any ready-made templates, teams have the option of creating their own templates and saving them for future use.
Zoho Projects’ Gantt charts, also known as Reports & Charts, allow users to visualize the progress of tasks measured against a timeline. It displays every detail of the project, including milestones, due dates, task lists, the percentage completeness, overdue tasks, and task dependencies. Task dependencies have their own color-codes and overdue items are highlighted in red. Teams can also plot critical paths so that these tasks are prioritized and completed before other work items.
The Kanban board in Zoho Projects shows tasks as cards, allowing users to organize and manage work visually. Projects and tasks can be rearranged via drag and drop and their statuses automatically update depending on which column they have been moved. Clicking on a task opens editing options such as start and end dates, task duration, priority level, followers, reminders, and more.
Task management is one of Zoho Projects’ strong suits. In addition to Kanban and Gantt chart views, teams can create task dependencies and reminders, as well as set tasks to recur on a schedule. Project managers can assign work hours to tasks and group related tasks into a task list. All tasks come with a unique task ID number so teams can easily track, identify, and search for tasks. Teams can also easily save tasks to a task template to be reused in the future.
Zoho Projects Blueprint, a feature only available from the Premium plan and up, fully supports automated workflows to increase efficiency within the workplace. Teams can use Zoho Projects Blueprint to create custom workflows through statuses and transitions. A status reflects what stage a task is in, while a transition shows what is required for the task status to progress from one stage to another.
Teams can also use the Blueprint Editor to customize its design and connect task statuses via nodes.
Zoho Projects enables teams to track progress in a project in several ways: via the weekly digest, the overall completion chart, productivity status, and backlog status. The weekly digest displays all of the progress for a particular week, whereas the overall completion chart represents the open and closed percentages of work items in a project.
On the other hand, the productivity status breaks down productivity in a team by displaying the most engaged users and least engaged users. Project managers can also use the backlog status to track work items by type, priority, and estimation points.
Communication & Collaboration
With Zoho Projects, internal and external team collaboration is a breeze. Teams can send project updates or share feedback via the in-built chat client or discussion forum. Clients can also receive access to projects without being a Zoho Projects user. Last but not least, Zoho Projects allows teams to upload files and centralize documents within the app.
Teams can use the in-built chat to ask each other questions or discuss projects in real-time. Conversations within the chat can either be private or public, ensuring that information always goes to the right audience. Users can also edit, delete, or archive chats, or attach files to provide the relevant context.
Zoho Projects’ file-sharing feature allows teams to upload and share files directly from a computer or import files via Google Drive and Box. Team members can also customize the file’s sharing permissions and add collaborators as needed. File storage limits in Zoho Projects range from 5GB to 120GB per workspace, depending on which plan a team has subscribed to.
There are two types of users in Zoho Projects: Portal users and Client users. Portal users are workspace members, while Client users are external members who can access work on projects provided that they are granted the right access levels. Teams using Zoho CRM can also directly import client users directly into Zoho Projects without needing to set up additional client profiles.
In addition to an in-built chat client, Zoho Projects also supports forums that enable team members to communicate with each other across vast distances. Users can post a topic, discuss critical ideas, or share project information in a central location. Zoho Projects’ discussion feature is embedded with a built-in text editor that supports markdown style, so teams can always convey their ideas clearly.
It is also possible to attach files and links, as well as pin and categorize the post. Finally, team members can also leave comments directly under a task.
Resource Allocation & Planning
Zoho Projects offers time-tracking, project budgeting, and capacity planning features so teams can track the progress of work, allocate resources efficiently, and manage workloads throughout projects. By keeping an eye on these resources, teams can deliver projects within budget on time, all the time.
Zoho Projects enables teams to track time either manually or automatically. For every task, users can start a timer to record their working hours and all tracked time is automatically logged in the timesheet. Users can also track time by manually entering the number of hours in a timesheet and set the entry’s status to “Billable” or “Non-billable”. All time entries come with a Notes section, which allows users to capture additional details.
Timesheets can also be exported and sent to clients for billing purposes.
Businesses can easily manage budgets and reduce budget overruns, thanks to Zoho Projects’ project budgeting features. On the Premium and Enterprise plans, project managers can enable, edit, and set budget thresholds in different currencies. When actual expenses exceed the specified threshold, project managers can choose to receive an email notification.
By integrating with accounting software such as Zoho Invoice or Zoho Books, project managers can consistently sync project data across the board and generate invoices.
Zoho Projects offers a resource utilization chart on the Premium and Enterprise plans that shows which team members are tasked with too much work, not enough work, and the right amount. Idle time is also reflected in the report. Project managers can view work allocation details, click on users to view tasks assigned to them, and drag and drop tasks from one user to another to re-balance workload.
Agile Project Management
Though Zoho Projects is not a technical tool designed for software development, IT teams can still make use of the Kanban boards to carry out Scrum processes and track issues. Zoho Projects also integrates with Zoho BugTracker, which enables teams to hunt down bugs, log bug details, and resolve them in a single place.
With the help of Kanban boards, teams can set up Scrum boards to plan and manage sprints. Zoho Sprints can also be integrated with Zoho Projects to compare the progress of multiple sprints and generate Agile reports such as burnup chart, burndown chart, velocity chart, and more.
Zoho Projects has a module called the IssueTracker which helps teams submit, track, and resolve issues and bugs. Issues can be assigned to a certain team member, tagged with a status, moved from status to another, and more. Teams can also create custom issue-tracking workflows for different projects.
Last but not least, the Zoho suite also consists of Zoho BugTracker, which is a dedicated bug-tracking software that integrates seamlessly with Zoho Projects.
Zoho Projects Pricing
Zoho projects offers five different pricing plans, including a free plan and four paid plans. The paid plans can be paid monthly or annually. The free version includes useful project features for individual people or small teams, such as Gantt charts and Google Apps integrations. A larger team or companies looking for more extensive features should consider one of the paid pricing plans. A free trial for the paid plans is available for 10 days and should help users discover features of the tool before committing to a decision.
Note that these pricing lists are simplified for the purposes of this Zoho Projects review. For more information, visit the Zoho Projects pricing page.
Zoho Projects Security
Zoho Projects has a number of security features to protect its users and their information:
Data encryption: Data in transit is encrypted with TLS protocols whereas data at rest is encrypted with the AES-256 algorithm.
Secure facilities: All the facilities are protected 24/7. Security procedures include video monitoring, fire/flood/theft monitoring systems, and biometric access. The latest encryption and intrusion detection technology is also used.
Two Factor Authentication (TFA): Once TFA is activated, anyone that tries to log in from an unrecognized computer will be required to provide additional authorization.
GDPR: Zoho Projects is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation. The company has raised awareness of GDPR, and its employees are fully trained in handling data appropriately. To make their users' lives more comfortable, they have also implemented new features to give users more control over their data, allowing them to become GDPR compliant.
Zoho Projects Integrations
Zoho Projects offers a number of integrations that are dependent on the company's chosen pricing plan. Some of the applications from the Zoho Corporation suite include Zoho CRM, Zoho Sprints, and Zoho Invoice. Integrations outside of Zoho’s ecosystem include:
Integrations outside of Zoho’s ecosystem include:
- Google Drive
- Google Calendar
- Office 365
- MS Teams
Zoho Projects has a functional yet outdated interface that has some catching up to do on the design front. The interface appears very old and inconsistent. Other than that, the user interface is quite easy to navigate, and the dashboards offer a good overview of the projects. Each Zoho project has its own dashboard.
After signing in, users can customize their own dashboard to show what work items need to get done. The menu on the left side is used to navigate through a particular project.
Zoho Projects supports mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. Users can create new tasks, check updates, and log time, all on the go. However, the features and interface on the mobile apps differ from the desktop version. While the web-based version always starts with a dashboard to show an overall view of all projects, the app offers an activity log of the most recent activities. Gantt charts and the calendar view are missing altogether. If those features are crucial, teams should use the desktop version instead.
Zoho Projects Support
Zoho Projects offers the following customer support options::
Knowledge base: There are written tutorials and screenshots to help users find their way around the software. Videos are also arranged into two categories, “Help Videos” and “Tips and Tricks”. However, some of these videos only contain background music and no explanations.
Community forums: The forums are an excellent way for users to share their feedback and experiences using the software. Zoho customer support specialists are also available to respond to issues and queries.
Blog: Users can read various articles that cover many different topics, including third-party integrations, new features and upcoming additions, and more.
Direct Support: Teams can send an email to reach the customer support team, request a callback, or fill out a request form on the Zoho Projects website.
Zoho Project Alternatives
While Zoho Projects is one of the oldest and most established project management solutions on the market, it does not have a modern interface, which means new users might have to invest some time into familiarizing themselves with the tool. Companies that are looking for a project management software with an easy to use interface may consider:
Zoho Projects is a feature-rich project management tool that offers good value for money. The software provides Kanban boards, Gantt charts, workflow automation, project budgeting, time-tracking, and resource management. Team members can also freely communicate with each other via useful collaboration tools such as the in-built chat and discussion forums. Another benefit of Zoho Projects is its affordable pricing plans, ensuring that each company finds the right subscription for their needs. Zoho Projects is appropriate for businesses of all sizes that require a reliable project management solution.
On the other hand, Zoho Projects has an outdated user interface that may require some learning time. The list of integrations is also not as extensive as other project management software providers.
After signing up for the Free plan, it can be used for free for an unlimited amount of time. Check out the full pricing guide above for further details.
Only the portal owner can upgrade the plan. That said, businesses can upgrade from one plan to another anytime.
The portal owner can only authorize the downgrade of an account. To downgrade to the free plan, refer to Zoho’s documentation.