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Reviews and expert opinion Zoho Projects

Andrés Gánem Andrés Gánem Project Manager @WebsitePlanet

Zoho Projects definitely looks good, and it offers fantastic value for its price. It’s a particularly excellent software if you are familiar with the Zoho ecosystem or you manage a small-to-medium-sized team.

But while there’s much to love about Zoho, it can get complicated to use if you manage large, complex projects. Read on to see what I mean.

Overview

zoho-projects-homepage
Zoho Projects has everything a small team needs to get a project running.

Zoho Projects is a robust and inexpensive software for project management. It can help you organize tasks, keep track of your team, and identify bottlenecks within a project. It also works together with the rest of Zoho’s ecosystem. So what’s the catch?

You’ve been on the internet long enough to know when something sounds too good to be true. And yes, there’s a reason why Zoho Projects is not my favorite project management tool.

Having tested it for weeks, I can tell you that there isn’t a lot of grey with Zoho Projects. If it’s right for you (for instance, if you manage a small to medium team), then it’s fantastic for you. If it isn’t, then it really isn’t.

Zoho Projects is available in over 20 languages, including English, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Russian, and more (although the landing page only shows 13 languages). It offers a completely free plan for up to 3 users and a 10-day free trial for its highest-priced plan.

But is it a good fit for your needs? Find out below.

4.5

Features

Zoho Projects Has an Impressive Set of Features That Really Work Together

Sure, Projects has some awesome individual features. They’re the ones that get mentioned in every commercial and placed in big, bold letters on top of the landing page. But what I liked the most was the way these features are brought together seamlessly in the same app.

Zoho might not have the most features, but what it does offer is laser-focused on improving project management and team efficiency.

Things like strict timelines, event planning, and activity streams (amongst many others) are good on their own, but when inside the same app, they can do wonders for your productivity.

Your Project Laid Out for You: Simply and Effectively

The default visualization in Zoho Projects is a Gantt chart, which helps you see every step of your project laid out before you in a timeline. You can set up four different dependencies between tasks:

  • Finish to start. Only begin a new task if you complete another.
  • Start to start. Only start a specific task if you have started another.
  • Finish to finish. Only complete a task if you have completed another.
  • Start to finish. Only end a task if you have started another.
zoho-projects-gantt-view
Use the Gantt view to organize your Zoho project (or in my case, a Dungeons & Dragons campaign!).

The Gantt chart updates automatically whenever you add a dependency, and you can set as many as you like between as many tasks as you want. If your project is complex, you can enable a “critical path,” which shows you the most effective order to complete your tasks.

If you need to get a different perspective, you can see your tasks in a Kanban view. Kanban shows your tasks as cards and lets you categorize tasks as open, in progress, in review, to be tested, on hold, and delayed. You can select plain or classic for a complete overview, which lists every task next to whatever information you choose.

Easily Keep Track of Your Team’s Work

Planning is only half of the battle in project management. You will need to keep track of the work being done and how much it will cost you. The built-in time tracking tool in Zoho Projects lets you do just that.

With Projects, you get full control over your projects’ time. You can set up timers to track whenever work on a task starts and stops, or set up time entries manually. For different tasks, you can set work-hour limits and restrict user permissions.

Zoho Projects is also one of the few project management software that lets you track multiple tasks simultaneously.

Solve Problems Faster with Issue Tracking

Any project is bound to run into a few bumps down the road. As a project manager, it’s your job to find the solution to any eventualities and get the work back on track. That’s where issue tracking comes in.

Issue tracking is a very simple idea on paper. You can associate issues to any task, assign users, set up deadlines, and even add reminders. Issues are registered automatically, so you don’t have to create a new one every time a recurring problem shows up.

Make the Most of Your Team with Resource Utilization

zoho-projects-resource-utilization
Projects shows you when work is unevenly distributed in your team.

Imagine your workflow… well, like a flow. Obstructions are one thing that can slow your progress, but you also need to consider bottlenecks.

Resource utilization shows you which users are over or underworked. With the Resource utilization view, you can make smart decisions to keep workloads fair and your team happy.

Focus On What Matters and Let Blueprints Do the Rest

Any team or company has processes they need to repeat regularly. Be it a creative team going through concept reviews, a large firm hiring, or a startup communicating with potential clients. Monotony is not only boring, but it can also be dangerous.

Unless every step is properly defined and reviewed, the more a process is repeated, the more you increase your chances of making a mistake. Best-case scenario, you lose time and money; worst-case scenario, you make a crucial mistake that could cost you your entire project. Blueprints can save you from all of that.

When you make a blueprint in Zoho Projects, you define every step in a work process, from start to finish. You only need to make a blueprint once, and you can apply it as needed.

Blueprints send notifications to different members based on a process step, record and update data through your project, and alert the right people when something’s going wrong. That way, you have peace of mind to focus on the work.

4.0

Ease of use

Zoho Is Friendly at First, But Can Be Frustrating Later On

You’ll see the term “difficulty curve” thrown around a lot for this kind of software. I know because I tested all the best project management software in 2022. But for Zoho Projects, it’s more of a “difficulty floor,” followed by a “90-degree angle.” Let me explain:

Zoho Projects’ design is pretty, but not clean. In my Smartsheet review, I mentioned that the interface looks grey and a little hostile, but that once you get familiarized with the program, it becomes pleasant to use and easy to find everything you need. I would call Smartsheet’s design clean, but not pretty.

For an example of pretty and clean, you can look at monday.com. monday.com provides plenty of features, displays them intuitively, and the software itself looks fantastic.

By comparison, the user interface in Zoho Projects looks welcoming at first, with its bright colors, round-cornered buttons, and customizable design. Basic things like tasks and the Gantt view are super easy to find and use.

The advanced features are where Projects gets frustrating. Things like blueprints, events, and resource utilization don’t have their own prominently featured section (which they absolutely should). Instead, you need to click around on various submenus to find them.

All of this is made worse because there’s no proper structure to the Knowledgebase. You can find clearly-written and really helpful tutorials, but you can’t go from topic to topic without a significant amount of effort.

Projects isn’t the hardest software to use – far from it – but I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t have the time to get accustomed to it. That goes for every member of your team, not just managers.

Getting Started with Zoho Projects

If you’re interested in Zoho Projects, all you have to do is go to zoho.com/projects, click the shiny red button, and enter your information. Then, choose your timezone, language, and industry. Register a contact number, and boom, you’re done!

After that, you can choose to import a project, use a sample, view some tutorials, or skip straight to creating your first project. I recommend using the sample project and taking some time to explore it.

zoho-projects-starting-page
Zoho Projects lets you start your project your way.
Pro Tip. If you’re going to use YouTube as a learning tool for Zoho Projects, make sure the tutorials are from 2022. Zoho has changed a lot in recent years, and out-of-date tutorials might be confusing and unhelpful.

When you register, you get a 10-day free trial of the highest-paid plan. Use that time to decide which features you like the most and which plan is best for you.

Organize Every Detail of Your Project

Not every task is created equal. Different steps in your project will have different degrees of importance and requirements. Zoho lets you organize your project into milestones, your milestones into task lists, task lists into tasks, and even create subtasks for every task.

In other words, you can get ridiculously specific with your priorities. The milestone system lets you keep every part of your project organized and shows you the big picture along with the small details that create it.

Custom Dashboards Show You What’s Most Important

You can set up a custom dashboard for every project to show the information that matters most to you. Choose between different visualization methods and rearrange widgets however you choose.

zoho-projects-dashboards
The dashboard helps you make sense of complicated information.

As you work on your project, you will need to keep track of more information. Without a visual representation, too much data can become confusing and pointless. The dashboard ensures that you don’t miss anything important.

A Private Encyclopedia Just for You

In an ideal project, every member of your team knows and remembers all the information they need. But you’re not going to work on the perfect project anytime soon. That’s why Pages is such a lifesaver.

zoho-projects-pages
With pages, all your information is available in one place.

This feature is a concept so simple that I’m surprised it isn’t more popular. Pages in Zoho Projects lets you create your project’s own Wikipedia. The members of your team will always have the information they need at the click of a button.

5.0

Collaboration Tools

Don’t Waste a Single Second with Poor Communication

Collaboration is where Zoho really shines. Even without integrating Zoho Meetings and Google Drive, Projects has more than enough features to improve teamwork. From enabling real-time and asynchronous communication to letting you attach files pretty much anywhere you want.

Team Dashboard & Communication

There are many options for team communication in Zoho Projects. If you need to communicate with other team members right away, you can use the built-in chat function to contact individual users or entire groups within your team.

zoho-projects-forums
Use forums to enable open and honest communication on your project

For long-form discussions, you can create forums. Users can ask questions, post comments, and tag each other within each forum thread. You can also restrict permissions if you need to.

Pro Tip. You can create special accounts for clients. Client accounts can’t edit details from your project, and you can choose exactly what parts of your project they can see.

File Sharing

You can attach files just about anywhere on Zoho Projects: tasks, forums, pages, you name it. You can also create specific folders for different teams within a project.

Don’t worry about privacy. You get complete control over how files are shared outside of your project or even between teams.

Mobile App

The mobile app is a great way to check a project’s information on the go. It’s easy to navigate, and the information is optimized for smaller displays.

Unfortunately, the app is not nearly as good for actually working on your project. You can still edit tasks and log work hours using the app, but that’s about it.

4.5

Support

Support Was Helpful and Efficient. But Not Very In-Depth

To test the quality of Zoho Projects’ support, I contact them with two questions:

  • How to set up a project for a freelancer who’s only temporarily on board?
  • Can I change access privileges for different team members?

You can contact support through email or through the live-chat function inside of the software. Unfortunately, no one ever responded to my email, so I can only talk about the live chat.

Overall, it was so-and-so. Someone got back to me almost as soon as I contacted support, but their answer was just “check this YouTube page.” I had to insist a little to get my question answered, but when I did, the result was satisfactory.

zoho-projects-customer-support
“Go watch our Youtube” isn’t something you want to hear in customer support.

Customer Support was serviceable, but it could be better. A lot better.

5.0

Pricing

A Quality Service at an Affordable Price

For what it offers, Zoho Projects’ prices are amazing. Projects is one of the cheapest project management software out there, and arguably offers the best quality for its price. It has three different plans:

  • You can use Zoho Projects for free if your team is under four people. I can’t imagine going through all that trouble for a 3-person team, but I recommend Zoho as an individual organizing tool. The features might be significantly less impressive with the free plan, but after doing the math, the cost sums up to about zero dollars per feature, which is excellent value.
  • The premium plan has more than enough functionality for slightly bigger teams if you don’t mind going without the dependencies between projects and custom teams.
  • The most expensive plan, enterprise, is still a lot cheaper than almost any other similar software. Though,if you’re considering enterprise, it might be worth paying a little more for a mid-tier Monday.com or Teamwork plan.

Zoho is pretty cheap either way. But I would recommend paying annually to get the most out of your money. Before you make that commitment, use the 10-day free trial on the enterprise plan to help you decide.

Comparison

How does Zoho Projects match up to the competition?

monday.comCompare4.8Compare
SmartsheetCompare4.7Compare
Zoho ProjectsCompare4.6Compare
HubSpotCompare4.1Compare

Zoho Projects REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

Zoho Projects isn’t the best choice for everyone. It takes a while to get comfortable with, and some features are still awkward to use regardless of how much time you spend using them.

If you’re in a hurry or trying to manage a sizable group of people, I wouldn’t recommend Projects. For smaller or medium-sized teams, however, Zoho Projects offers fantastic functionality at an amazing price.

FAQ

What is Zoho Projects used for?Zoho Projects is a great software for organizing a group of people working on a single project. The project can be of any kind, from personal and creative to large-business managing.How much does Zoho Projects cost?The prices depend on the plan you choose. The cheapest plan available is completely free, but the premium plan will offer the best value for most people. Zoho Projects is one of the cheapest project management software on the market.Is Zoho Projects good for beginners?Overall, no. Projects can take a while to learn, and it can be counterintuitive. If you aren’t certain that it’s the tool you want, learning to use it and then changing to another software will cost you time. You don’t need to be a project management expert to use Projects, but a little experience doesn’t hurt.Is Zoho Projects better than Asana?It depends on your needs. However, I will say that I personally prefer Projects. I’d recommend checking out our Asana review to help figure out which is best for you. While you’re at it, why not check out our complete list of the best project management software in 2022?

Andrés Gánem Andrés Gánem
Andrés Gánem is a Colorado-born, Mexico-City-raised freelance writer and content creator. He’s been doing that for a while. When he’s not writing, he should be, but you can find him reading adventure novels, playing video games, or drinking frankly unhealthy amounts of coffee. If you see him, tell him to put down that coffee. He’s shaky enough as it is.

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