Have you heard of Zoho? If you have, it’s most likely that you’ve heard of it for it’s customer relationship management software. But what you might not know is that the company has also created a suite of other products that revolve around finance.
Thanks to a client, Zoho Books came onto my radar. Seeing as I always like to learn new tools and experiment, I gave it a try. And while it’s still fairly new to me, I’m liking what I see (from a bookkeeper’s perspective obviously).
However, I thought that it could be beneficial to help you choose between the variety of softwares out there on the market, so I’ve put together this quick review on my experience with Zoho Books.
If you’re in the market for software, consider Zoho Books and then check out Xero, WaveApps, Kashoo, and Freshbooks, too.
Overview of Zoho Books
Zoho Books is a flexible accounting software that, in my opinion, is best suited for agencies or business owners who have complex client projects, like a web designer. It’s different than other software because it has a higher focus on the client with features like a client portal and automation rules.
It’s cloud-based, which means that it’s online and all of your information is kept on the Internet as opposed to your computer. And you’ll pay a monthly subscription between $9 and $29.
Is it easy to learn?
It depends. If you’re coming from a purely paper-based accounting system, it’s going to take some time to get everything into the software. That being said, Zoho offers a comprehensive tutorial to get you started that’s available to you as soon as you sign up. Plus, their customer service is available 24/7 via email, chat, and phone if you run into any problems.
But, what’s interesting about this software is that it goes beyond simple bookkeeping and accounting with offering basic inventory, project management, workflow automation, and client portal options. While those extra options give you more possibilities as a business owner, it can also be overwhelming.
My suggestion if you decide to move forward with Zoho is to start with what you came for — bookkeeping and accounting — and eventually move into the other features.
If you’re working with a professional accountant or bookkeeper, they’ll also be able to access the software and help you set it up, so that will take some of the work off your plate.
What are the downsides?
There are a few downsides to using Zoho Books as a small business owner, and I’m going to break them down into four categories: very few advisors, no recurring billing, no balance sheet or income statement reports, limited third-party connections.
1) Very few advisors – While Zoho Books is competing with other software, like Xero and Wave, with its features, it’s limited by the number of advisors it has. That means if you decide to use it, your choices of hiring someone who knows how to expertly navigate and make the most of it are limited.
2) No recurring billing – If you’re invoicing many different clients the same amount each month, you don’t have the option to charge their cards automatically. While Zoho Books will duplicate the previous month’s invoice and send it, the client will still have to enter their credit card information to pay it.
3) No balance sheet or income statement reports – While they offer many reports (listed below), balance sheet and income statement reports aren’t offered. This might make your accountant or bookkeeper sad.
- recurring invoices
- credit notes
- retainer invoices
- Purchase orders (not included on the Standard subscription)
- Sales orders (not included on the Standard subscription)
4) Limited third-party connections – If you’re a maker and you sell on a platform like Etsy, this software is not the one for you. Because Zoho has many other in-house integrations — CRM, Expense, Reports, Inventory, etc. — it hasn’t linked up with third-party connections like Etsy or Freshbooks, which makes it difficult if your business already uses those.
Why should I use it?
1) Focus on the client – Like I mentioned earlier, Zoho includes unique features that directly benefit your client. Beyond recognizing them with a quick “thank you” courtesy of your workflow automation rules, each client can login to their own “portal” where they can do things like manage invoices and view transactions. You would also be able to schedule reports to send to them or your team members on a recurring basis, which could be great for keeping track of project progress.
2) Basic inventory and project management – If you’re scaling your business and managing many projects and team members, Zoho has a basic project management feature that allows you to manually log time on projects and use a widget timer while you’re working. Plus, if you’re a business that manages inventory, Zoho will help you keep track of quantities and alert you when you need to make repurchase orders.
3) Workflow automation rules – One of the neatest things about Zoho Books is that you can set up “rules” to automate your workflow. For example, let’s say that your client pays an invoice. As soon as the invoice is paid, you can have a “thank you” email sent to your client. Internally, this works out for you, too. You can set up “bank rules,” so that each time a specific transaction is synced, it will be automatically sorted into the correct category. If you like Xero but also like this feature, you’re in luck. Xero offers it, too. 🙂
4) Easily accessible library of information – If you have a question about how to use the software, you have plenty of places to turn. Beyond 24/7 email, chat, and phone customer service, there is also a community forum, a lengthy documentation section, and video tutorials.
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Quick rundown of Zoho Books
- Started doing business in: 2011
- Cost: Paid monthly subscription ($9 – $29)
- Free trial: 14 days
Credit card processing fees: Charged the processing fee of whichever payment provider you use – Stripe, Authorize.net, Braintree, 2 Checkout, Square, and ACH Payments
- Automatic billing: No
- Payroll available: No
- Multicurrency: Yes
- PayPal payment option: Yes
- Etsy connection: No
- Shoeboxed connection: No
- Customized invoices: Yes
- Mobile app: Yes
- Option to collaborate with team members: Yes
- Customer service: Email, chat, and phone
Still have questions about whether or not Zoho Books is right for you? Leave a comment below or send me a message.