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Zoho vs. Dynamics 365 : The Pros and Cons – Part 1

By April 16, 2021April 19th, 2021No Comments

This essay looks at  Zoho vs. Dynamics 365. It is written in two parts by Gene Marks of The Marks Group. We currently serve hundreds of Microsoft Dynamics and Zoho clients and provide training, consulting and implementation services to help our clients use these products.  So is Dynamics better than Zoho? Is Zoho better than Dynamics? That’s up to you to decide. Here are the pros and cons of Zoho vs. Microsoft Dynamics, based on our experience as partners.

Let’s start with Zoho.

WHAT IS ZOHO?

Zoho is made by Zoho Corporation which is headquartered in India and has sales and support offices in the U.S. The company employs 10,000 people and says it has 150,000 companies that use its applications. Zoho Corporation was founded in 1996. It is a privately held company with revenues of more than $500 million last year.

To compare Zoho and Dynamics we need to look at the pros and cons of each application.

  • Zoho Pros:
    -Affordability is high.
    -It’s more than a CRM.
    -Email is built in.
    -Marketing is built in.
    -Services are built in.
    -Customization is easy.
    -Reporting is strong.
    -Lead/opportunity management is strong.
    -Workflow uses AI.
  • Zoho Cons:
    -Support is inconsistent.
    -User interface is inconsistent.
    -Application integration is missing in some areas.
    -Emails more prone to blacklisting.
    -Unannounced changes cause disruption.

WHAT ARE THE PROS OF ZOHO?

Zoho is affordable.

I like to call Zoho the “poor man’s Salesforce.com.” That’s because it’s affordably priced and has the features that most small and mid-sized companies need to handle their sales, service and marketing needs.  Zoho is priced between $14-$52 per user per month depending on the version. Like all other mainstream CRMs, there is a free version available with limited capabilities.

Zoho is more than just CRM.

A big attraction of Zoho as compared to Dynamics is that it’s not just a CRM. It’s a suite of products. While the CRM application is its primary offering, Zoho offers standalone (and integrated) applications for accounting, project management, human resources, invoicing, inventory, services and advanced marketing campaigns. In addition, the company has many hundreds of thousands of users that rely on its email servers and standalone email product. For many businesses Zoho could be the one and only platform that’s used – unlike with other CRM applications. That said, Zoho will also integrate with many non- Zoho applications via its own marketplace or using tools like Zapier.

Email is built-in.

Zoho has a built-in email client which can work with its own email service, Gmail or other popular email services. It’s also easy to link emails via IMAP connectivity as well as an Outlook add-in for manual linking of emails.  Zoho’s calendar can synchronize both with Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365. Zoho’s documents will support Microsoft and Google formats.

It has strong marketing functionality built-in.

Although there is an advanced email campaigns module, Zoho CRM has good marketing features built in and can send up to 1,000 emails per day. You can customize email templates and incorporate them into workflows. Zoho CRM also integrates with your website and automatically send emails.  Zoho also integrates with popular email services like Constant Contact and MailChimp.

Customization is easy.

Another benefit is that Zoho is very easy to customize. Most of our clients using Zoho can figure out the included form design tools and navigate their way to adding fields, lookups and custom forms. For those that want advanced customization, Zoho Creator is offered as a separate application to build integrated modules. There are also application programming interfaces available, although once you head down that road you’ll likely need to use a Zoho developer or partner. When comparing Zoho and Dynamics however you’ll find that Zoho partner services tend to be less of an investment.

Reporting is strong.

Zoho  has strong reporting, analytics and dashboard modules. Most reports can be generated from all areas of the application.  There’s also reporting capabilities that span across different Zoho modules, and not just CRM.  Like all other reporting modules, however, Zoho reports requires some training and practice.

Lead/Opportunity management is strong.

Lead and opportunity management in Zoho is strong. You can integrate the Leads module with your website forms to automatically pull in data and requests from online and trigger follow-up activities and emails.  You can create and customize opportunities and map out sales processes using Zoho’s “Blueprint” capabilities.

Workflow uses AI.

Zoho also includes basic service management capabilities to create cases and queues. Zoho’s security can be configured to restrict user and group access to specific fields, forms and functions. Zoho also has very powerful, AI-driven workflow, alerts and even voice interactions via “Zia.”  These processes also need some training and practice to configure.

WHAT ARE THE CONS OF ZOHO?

Support is spotty.

As mentioned above Zoho is headquartered in India and is staffed by earnest and courteous people. Unfortunately, and because of both geography and culture its support operations are irregular and oftentimes frustrating. However, there is a strong network of Zoho partners like The Marks Group that can handle support issues although this comes at an additional cost.

The user Interface can be inconsistent.

Zoho’s user interface is pretty easy to work with which can in turn lead to easier training on more usage out of the box.  However, it’s interface can sometimes be inconsistent. What I mean by that is that users report different forms performing the same action and irregular functionality that requires refreshing screens or exiting the browser. Dropdowns tend to frequently stick in place and clicking just a millimeter off from what was intended can launch new screens and cause annoyances.

Inconsistent integration.

Although Zoho has many applications as part of its business suite, the integration between those applications varies.

Email blacklisting.

Zoho’s mail servers sometimes get blacklisted due to their worldwide heavy use.  This causes more emails coming from Zoho to be categorized as spam.

Frequent changes.

Zoho developers make frequent changes to the application which sometimes causes confusion. On the upside, issues do seem to be addressed quickly.

CONCLUSION

Zoho has its pros and cons. But to be clear: Zoho is more affordable and quicker to get up and running than Dynamics. It’s fine even if you’re not in the Microsoft world and it’s certainly a more cost effective CRM than Salesforce for most small and mid-sized businesses.

Now, let’s further compare Zoho and Microsoft Dynamics in Part 2 by looking at the pros and cons of Dynamics.

Gene Marks

Author Gene Marks

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