Zoho Accounting Review
Zoho Accounting Introduction
Zoho Accounting – also known as Zoho Books – is a cloud-based accounting program designed for entrepreneurs, freelancers and professionals. They have a variety of features, apps that can help customize your account and even integrates with PayPal so you can collect payments while still enjoying your PayPal account. With Zoho there are even a few unique features, like retainer invoices, which makes them more ideal for business professionals.
A desktop accounting program designed to help you run your business from a single application.
- 14-day free trial
- PayPal compatible
- Tons of reports
- Integrates with bank for faster transaction input
- Retainer options
- Project management and time tracking
- Must add apps (some with added cost)
- No payroll
- Not user-friendly at first
- No schedule C or estimated tax payments
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Scoring and Rating
Accounting and Business Tasks: (Rating: 10/10)
Zoho does have all of the basic accounting features you would expect from a business software program. You can track expenses and income, enter recurring expenses (such as software that renews on a monthly basis), enter recurring bills, add vendors and manage their bills, create estimates and more. You can sync with your bank or credit card company to automatically download transactions and create rules so that they are classified even faster.
Inventory tracking is available, but this is an added feature (unless you pay for the Professional plan and then the basic inventory is included), and you could pay anywhere from $20 to more than $400 per month; therefore, it’s not necessarily an included feature.
When you go to reports, all of the reports are organized on the side panel of your homepage and you can select the category then the report. For example, Sales has the option of reporting by customer, by item or by sales person. You can also customize reports, but the customization options will depend on the report you’re trying to modify.
Invoicing: (Rating: 9/10)
Zoho makes invoicing rather simple and luckily you aren’t limited on invoices – but you are limited on contacts by 25 for the Basic plan and 500 for the Standard. But, contacts aren’t necessarily just for invoices.
You can’t choose from tons of invoices for your accounting software, but you can add a company logo. For snail mailed invoices, you can print a payment stub for clients and you can choose to accept payments in any form via their invoice template – such as PayPal or other gateways.
Estimates can be converted into invoices automatically for faster invoicing, and you can set up recurring invoices (as long as you have the right subscription).
One unique invoicing feature is the Retainer Invoices. This is perfect for professionals that collect deposits or retainers for work prior to actually working. In these invoices you can specify the retainer’s use and you can even use them to credit multiple invoices in the future and issue refunds based on the leftover retainer amount.
You can use multiple currencies and tax rates as well with Zoho.
Management: (Rating: 7/10)
Management can be a little clunky with Zoho, especially if you are unfamiliar with their apps or how it works. You can manage vendor bills and input expenses with ease in Zoho, but you cannot pay your vendors via the software.
You can manage projects in Zoho, which is good, and inventory management (in the basic form) is available with the Professional plan. Purchase orders and sales orders are only available with the Professional plan.
Time tracking is included at no extra cost, but you cannot physically track time – just input into a timesheet. They have a “start timer” option, but it didn’t work.
If you have employees, then the management features may not be as robust. You cannot do payroll from Zoho and they have no apps or plans to add payroll in the future. You also cannot track employee timesheets unless you sign up for the Professional plan and even then, you can’t pay anyone from it or even print 1099s.
Inventory is available for the non-Professional plans too, but this is an added feature and not part of the Zoho Books. Zoho Inventory lets you manage orders, track orders, add shipping and even integrates with your accounting program, but you will pay anywhere from $29 to $449 per month for this inventory.
Ease of Use: (Rating: 7/10)
It took me awhile to play around with Zoho and see how it worked. While it is somewhat user-friendly, I would say there are much easier programs out there to try. Setting up your account is daunting and finding the settings panel let alone specific areas you want to customize can give you a headache.
They do have “Page Tips” in the right hand corner of each page. Though the tips can be a little confusing and sometimes don’t always answer your questions.
If you don’t have much experience with accounting programs, Zoho may cause some hiccups and you may have difficulty getting setup at first. After you are setup, they do have a lot of processes automated, so it will get easier – but you have to make it through the setup hurdles first.
Zoho could use some improvements in terms of functionality for users and perhaps some prompts or tutorials would be nice.
The dashboard for Zoho is rather basic as well and you cannot customize it like other accounting programs offer. The dashboard is more of a quick snapshot and not really a jumping point.
Access: (Rating: 9/10)
Zoho is another accounting program that can limit access based on the level you sign up for – which is always disappointing, but never anything new. You are limited to one user and one accountant on the Basic plan, two users and one accountant on the Standard and unlimited on Professional.
If adding a user, you can decide their level of access and choose between Admin, Staff (which works for accountants), TimeSheet Staff (for those entering their time), and Staff that are assigned to specific customers only.
You can access Zoho on any device and even use mobile apps to track expenses, invoice, etc. Everything is backed up online too – so you don’t have to worry when a device goes down.
Taxes: (Rating: 5/10)
Zoho is best suited for freelancers and professionals, yet they lack the complexity for taxes. You cannot prepare and file your business taxes, nor can you do a Schedule C if you’re a contractor. They do help with sales tax, but not all companies use sales tax.
Each account comes with one accountant access point unless you have the Professional account and then you can have unlimited access.
There is no payroll with Zoho, so payroll taxes, 1099s, W2s, etc. must be done via manual or a third application.
Zoho advertises themselves to professionals and freelancers, but they don’t have the ability to calculate or track estimated quarterly tax payments – which is a little disappointing and something they should add if they are going to advertise to that class of company.
Pricing: (Rating: 9/10)
Price-wise, Zoho is definitely competitive, but once you consider their Professional account and the fact they don’t have payroll or employee management, the price may become steep. That being said, they include some features others charge extra for, so perhaps the price has its pros and cons.
You can enjoy a 14-day free trial with Zoho and there are no introductory rates, instead you will pay:
Credit card fees are based on the third-party payment gateway you automatically integrate with Zoho.
Customer Service: (Rating: 8/10)
Support is a titch odd with Zoho. You can call them 24/5 – five days a week. You can also register for one of their many webinars or email them 24/7 (though responses are limited to work hours) with your questions. You can also find an accountant online, check their community forums and access their guides when you need help. There’s no live chat at this time.
Their FAQs section is okay, but could be improved. I have seen more in-depth and better organized knowledgebase and FAQs sections with other programs.
Zoho Books currently has an A- with the BBB, but they are not BBB accredited.
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Regular Pricing(after intro): $9/month basic, $19/month Standard, $29/month Professional
Introductory Pricing: None
Free Trial: 14 Days
Score Based out of Total of 10
# of Users Per Account
# of Clients/Customers
# of Invoices
Basic Accounting Features
Can Import Bank Transactions
Estimates or Quotes
Converts Estimates to Invoices
Managing Bills and Paying Bills
Credit Card/Paypal Processing: Added Fee
eCommerce or POS Compatable
# of Built in Reports: 50+
Provides Employee TimeSheets
All (Cloud Based)
Mobile Expense Tracking
Receipt Capture via Mobile Phone
Mobile Time Tracking
Help and Support
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What Type of Business Could Use This Software?
Zoho Books is more ideal for small businesses or even single-entrepreneur companies. They have no payroll options and while they offer a few HR resources, those resources are rather pointless to pay for when you can get those same features free and included with payroll processing. While you could add payroll elsewhere, most businesses may find that two programs for finances isn’t worth it.
We would say Zoho is more for freelancers, small businesses and those that need to track inventory, have affordable accounting, but don’t need to worry about payroll. Companies that deal with subcontractors only may be able to utilize Zoho, but those with payroll will not find Zoho as useful.
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14-Day Free Trial
Zoho Basic: Includes invoices, expenses, time tracking, banking, up to 25 contacts, one user and one accountant access, multi-currency, and five workflow rules. Starts at $9 per month.
Zoho Standard: Includes Basic features as well as vendor credits, recurring transactions, bills, 500 contacts, two users and one accountant access, custom roles and 10 rules. Starts at $19 per month.
Zoho Professional: Includes Standard features plus purchase orders, sales orders, inventory (basic edition only), unlimited users and unlimited contacts. Starts at $29 per month.
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What We Like About Zoho
14-Day Free Trial: Zoho does let you try out their program free for 14 days. While this is always helpful, it is one of the shorter trial periods compared to the competition – but then again, there’s some that offer no trial.
PayPal Payments: Zoho lets you integrate PayPal payments (both standard, payment gateway and business accounts) so that you can collect on invoices via PayPal automatically. This is a refreshing feature to see – especially for small businesses and freelancers that rely on PayPal for their payments.
Retainers: Zoho is one of the few to be equipped for retainer fees – and this is important for companies that work on retainers or professionals that require deposits for work rendered in the future. Retainers can then be applied to multiple invoices and you can even issue cash refunds based on a retainer received in the past.
Multiple Apps for Customizing: This is sort of a pro and a con. Zoho does let you add on apps and features to customize your accounting software and overall Zoho experience. For example, you can add on an inventory app to track inventory, add an applicant app so that you can track applications received for job openings and you can even integrate with Zoho’s CRM and project management tools.
Subscription Management: If you are a company that bills customers subscriptions, you can manage them via Zoho’s Subscription account. You can automatically bill, monitor new and expiring subscriptions, etc.
Project Management: You can input projects into Zoho, then track time and expenses to those projects as well as their income. Then, you can compare how much a project cost versus how much you made – something every business owner should be aware of to truly generate their profits and better anticipate prices in the future. Another nice feature is that you can add tasks for each project as well as indicate if they are billable. Then you can mark off the tasks and add them to invoices when ready as well as add the project and tasks to-do to your dashboard.
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What We Don't Like About Zoho
Time Sheets, but No Time Tracking: A lot of accounting programs say they offer time tracking, but what they mean are timesheets. Zoho is one of those programs. They do allow you to enter time for specific projects and track timesheets, but you cannot physically track your time in the program – so you’ll need a third party app for that.
No Payroll: Zoho Books doesn’t have payroll and despite their large number of apps that let you customize the software, payroll isn’t one of them. According to their customer service team, they have no plans to add payroll in the near future either.
No Schedule C or Quarterly Estimated Tax Payments: Zoho lets you track expenses and create categories for those expenses, but they don’t have the same Schedule C features as other programs designed for freelancers and contractors. They also do not help you estimate your quarterly tax payments – which may be a hassle for contractors that want everything in one place.
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Zoho Books is all about offering simplified accounting with numerous add-on apps so that you can customize your accounting and project management experience.
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