Zoho Books: Rocking horse to race winner?
When Zoho books first appeared on AccountingWEB’s radar in 2011, things weren’t looking good. But five years on, it seems the Indian cloud provider is getting serious.
Writing five years ago, AccountingWEB’s editor-in-chief John Stokdyk noted, “More of a curiosity for UK accountants than a serious business application, [Zoho] received some of the lowest individual product ratings of all the products in the survey.”
Not exactly rapturous praise, but five years is a long time in software. The cloud accounting solution for micro-businesses and freelancers officially launched in the UK last year, and initial impressions have been good.
Zoho Books forms part of a stable of products from Zoho Corp. The company is probably most well-known for its CRM solution. As part of the family, Zoho Books integrates with its siblings very simply.
“We’re introducing a new document storage feature within Zoho Books, where customers can upload documents in a central location and access them whenever, wherever required. We are also increasing our integration within the Zoho Suite,” said Reshma Roy, Zoho’s product marketing manager.
“We will be releasing a tight integration with Zoho Reports in the coming month. Customers can export their financial statements from Zoho Books and use the advanced analytics in Zoho Reports for more insights.”
Integration with the wider Zoho suite is definitely priority; other than that, the integrations don’t really do much that could be considered innovative. It has a wealth of integrations with payment gateways like PayPal and cloud document systems like Dropbox.
These top level, ‘mainstream’ integrations are consistent with Zoho Books’ purpose as a micro-business and freelancer solution. The user interface is very simple to use, and fulfils most of a business’s basic needs: Creating and sending invoices, tracking expenses, syncing bank accounts and creating reports. Zoho also offers free apps for Apple and Android devices that allow a business to be run on the go. It’s clearly designed with the less financially and technologically literate in mind.
The simple nature of the software could be considered a worry though. As great as it may be when a business is just a one-man-band style operation, whether the solution is scalable is up for debate. The company says that the accounting tools can grow with the business, and maybe they’re right. Luckily, there’s a 14-day free trial so you can give it a crack, no strings attached.
The pricing model, much like the software, is very simple: A basic £6-a-month subscription, a standard £12 one and the professional £18-a-month option. The basic one is for a single user and their accountant. The standard one, which Zoho says is the most popular, enables two users and an accountant, along with more contacts and custom roles. The professional plan is unlimited and is bundled with a basic edition of Zoho’s inventory software.
An interesting twist is client reviews in client portal. This feature was rolled out in January and allows a user to request that a client provide feedback on your service/product. The reviews are funnelled into your customer’s profile, and can then be shared on social media.
This feature is emblematic of Zoho Books’ appeal. It is centred on making micro businesses and freelancers’ lives easier. Whether it’s simplifying the books or helping with marketing. Zoho Books seems to have come a long way from its scrappy beginnings, and it scrubs up nicely.