As a CEO of a time tracking software company, I need to know what my competitors are up to. That means I’m often researching about and/or playing around with their products… you know, it’s part of the job. Here, I share my findings from that research, giving credit to those competitors where credit is due and being honest about which products I believe you really need to avoid. And so, there you have it, this review. And in it, I try to be honest, fair, and insightful.
This review covers:
- What Do Users Like About Zoho?
- What Don’t Users Like About Zoho?
- What Pricing Plans does Zoho Offer?
- What are the Standout Features of Zoho?
- Positive User Highlights
- Negative User Highlights
- What are Zoho’s Ratings from Review Sites?
- What’s My Final Verdict on Zoho?
Zoho is a comprehensive suite of cloud-based software applications that offer solutions to a wide range of business needs. It offers over 50 different applications that cover various functions such as accounting, marketing, customer relationship management, project management, HR management, and more.
What I’ll dissect here are Zoho’s time tracking features such as timers, online timesheets, automated time tracking, and real-time attendance monitoring which are to be found mostly in Zoho Invoice, Zoho Projects, Zoho Shifts, and Zoho People. Using Zoho’s various time tracking features, businesses can easily manage employee time and attendance, stay on top of scheduling, and track project time and expenses. Along with generating accurate timesheets for payroll processing, it generates some pretty crisp reports, allowing businesses to analyze employee time data, identify trends, and make informed decisions about resource allocation and productivity.
I particularly love Zoho’s user-friendliness and exceptional customer support that complement its array of features that facilitate productivity enhancement, efficiency, and collaboration. I also love the way its interface is designed — not too cluttered, yet not sterile-looking either. And the way it can be customized to fit unique needs such as with custom workflows and custom forms is quite thoughtful, too.
However, I do have some concerns about Zoho, and foremost is the way both iOS and Android apps freeze or crash when clocking in and out. This and other bugs and glitches plaguing both mobile and desktop versions compromise the precision of its time tracking functionality and spell trouble for all the processes dependent on captured time data. In addition, the software’s calendar functionality isn’t as smooth as I’d like it to be either — it doesn’t update in real time, which is quite a bummer for a feature that’s meant to keep everyone informed about any changes immediately.
The pre-built reports, while great for saving time in creating routine and simple reports, don’t quite offer the precision and analytic power I usually need. It could do better with more customizability and complexity. It also seems to have difficulties integrating even with apps from the Zoho family. It’s also priced on the higher end, and more advanced features come at an extra cost — not friendly to smaller businesses or those with limited budgets.
Now, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s only fair that we explore what else it has to offer in detail before making any judgments. So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it!
What Do Users Like About Zoho?
- Easy to set up
- Easy to use
- Attractive interface
- Customizability to fit unique workflows
- Responsive customer support
Find more on what users love about Zoho.
What Don’t Users Like About Zoho?
- Doesn’t fully integrate with other apps, even those from Zoho
- Mobile app crashes and freezes
- Bugs and glitches compromise time tracking
- Calendar issues
- Reports need more precision and customizability
- Pricing is steep and advanced features drive the price up
Find more on what users hate about Zoho.
What Pricing Plans Does Zoho Offer?
At the beginning of this review, I mentioned that time tracking features are most prominent in Zoho Invoice, Zoho Projects, Zoho Shifts, and Zoho People, so we’re looking at the pricing plans of all three apps. We’re also looking at what the plans are designed for, the features they have for each plan, and how they compare to each other.
Zoho People is an HR-focused app that promises to deliver exceptional employee experiences with an arsenal of features designed to simplify core HR tasks, optimize time and attendance, manage performance, and enable dynamic learning and development. It has six plans, one free and five paid, as well as a 30-day free trial period. It also has several paid add-on feature suites that contain advanced features for expanded capabilities.
The Zoho PeopleFree Plan allows businesses to run basic HR functions, manage time off, and store information in an employee database. It can be used by up to 5 users.
The Zoho People Essential HR Plan costs $1.25 per user per month when billed annually, or $1.50 monthly. Features include employee onboarding, employee database management, HR files management, employee self-service, time off management, multi-level approvals, module-based reports, workflow management, the ZIA – AI bot, and office readiness.
The Zoho People Professional plan costs $2 per user per month when billed annually, or $2.50 monthly. It has all of the features of the Essential HR plan, plus time tracking, timesheet management, timesheet scheduler, attendance marking via web, mobile, and facial recognition, people kiosk, biometric integration, shift scheduling, shift rotation, IP and geo-restrictions, overtime calculation, job scheduling, and billing and invoicing integration.
The Zoho People Premium Plan costs $3 per user per month when billed annually, or $3.50 monthly. It has all of the features of the Professional plan, plus performance appraisals, KRA and goals tracking, skill set matrix, 360-degree feedback, self-appraisals, multi-rater review, advanced HR analytics, and employee engagement.
The Zoho People Enterprise Plan costs $4.50 per user per month when billed annually, or $5 when billed monthly. It has all of the features of the Premium plan, plus cases (employee query management), cases SLA tracking, self and blended learning, course management, course feedback, discussion forums, and assessments.
The Zoho People Plus Plan costs $9 per user per month when billed annually, or $10 when billed monthly. It has all of the features of the Enterprise plan, plus Zoho Recruit for talent acquisition, Zoho Payroll, Zoho Expense, Zoho Connect for collaboration, Zoho Cliq for communication, and Zoho Vault for password management.
Zoho Projects is a project management app that promises increased productivity and improved collaboration with an array of features designed to plan projects, track work efficiently, and collaborate with global teams. It allows users to log time accurately with timesheets, save time with automated tasks, integrate with other productivity apps, and work on the go. It has three plans, one free and two paid, as well as a 10-day free trial period.
The Zoho Projects Free Plan can be used by up to three users for two projects with 5GB of storage space. Its features include custom status, task management, Gantt charts, project feeds, calendar and forums, and basic task and issue reports. It can be used both on desktop and mobile.
The Zoho Projects Premium Plan costs $4 per user per month when billed annually, or $5 monthly. It can be used for unlimited projects with 20 project templates and 100GB of storage space. It has all of the features of the Free plan, plus time tracking, project resource utilization, project planned versus actual, project Gantt charts, custom views, subtasks, reminders, and timers, automated tasks with blueprint, advanced task and issue reports, business hours, holidays, and weekends, project budget and EVM, and business rules for issues.
The Zoho Projects Enterprise Plan costs $9 per user per month when billed annually, or $10 monthly. It can be used for unlimited projects with 30 project templates, 120GB of storage space, and 10 Read-only users. It has all of the features of the Premium plan, plus a portfolio dashboard, global Gantt charts, critical path and baseline, global resource utilization, global planned versus actual, inter-project dependencies, custom roles, profiles, and domain, custom fields, SLAs for issues, and web tabs. In recent updates, the Enterprise plan also added new features such as task workflow rules, task layout rules, and SSO, TFA, and IP restrictions.
Zoho Shifts is a shift scheduling software that promises to simplify employee time tracking and scheduling with a collection of features designed to help businesses create schedules effectively and efficiently, gain visibility into workplace and employee activities, and facilitate work mobility. It has two paid plans and a 30-day free trial period.
The Zoho Shifts Basic Plan starts at $10 per month for the first 10 users, plus $1 per user per month. The annual plan starts at $100 for the first 10 users plus $10 for every additional user, billed yearly. Its features are curated for scheduling and communication for teams. These include employee scheduling, unlimited locations, schedule templates, break planning, automated shift reminders, shift swaps, offers, and, drops, time off requests, and approvals, availability preference, custom access permissions, certification tracking, advanced reporting, SMS, email, and push notification, and chat and email support.
The Zoho Shifts Standard Plan starts at $20 per month for the first 10 users, plus $2 per user per month. The annual plan starts at $200 for the first 10 users plus $20 for every additional user, billed yearly. Its features are curated for advanced scheduling, time tracking, and payroll export. It has all of the features of the Basic plan, plus a mobile time clock, GPS tagging & geofencing, time clock rules, timesheet management, custom overtime rules, and payroll exports.
Zoho Invoice is designed to streamline invoicing and payment processes. It creates professional and personalized invoices from time tracking data, generates quotes, sends invoices and payment reminders effectively to clients, and helps businesses receive payments on time. This solution is free for everyone.
Aside from the previously-mentioned functions, Zoho Invoice also allows users to create credit notes, adapt to local languages and tax laws, automate payment reminders, accept payments via cash, cheques, and bank transfers, add multiple users, assign role-based access, gain business insights through detailed reports, log time and manage projects, scan receipts and track expenses, and provide a customer self-service portal.
Check out the 5 things you MUST know about Zoho’s pricing.
What are the Standout Features of Zoho?
1. Time Tracking
Zoho allows users to track time using automatic timers and manual logs on both desktop and mobile. By using their time tracking solution, Zoho promises to capture all worked hours accurately so employees can be paid fairly, clients can be billed better, and transparency is promoted between management and the workforce, among team members, and between businesses and their clients.
To track time using manual logs, users can simply navigate to the timesheets from the menu bar on the left side of the Zoho dashboard, and then to the list view option under time logs. Click the log time button on the upper right side of the page and fill out the details required, such as the project name and job name for which the user is logging time, the date, billable status, and the number of hours spent on the activity. Alternatively, users can also indicate start and end times and the software will calculate the duration automatically. In addition, users can also add a description to notify superiors and colleagues about the highlights of the particular time entry. They can even attach files to share with collaborators.
Bulk-adding logs manually on Zoho can be done by clicking the downward-pointing arrow on the log time button, which will prompt users to choose daily, weekly, or monthly time logs, and then fill in the job details in the rows of time entries on the resulting page. If the default rows are not enough for the number of time entries to be recorded, users can always add more by clicking add row at the bottom of the list.
For more precision in capturing time data on Zoho, users can choose the automatic timer using the same process, but instead of entering the number of hours or start and end times, they should click the timer option. This kickstarts the timer and users can then go about their activities. Alternatively, from the drop-down menus near the top of the list view page, they can simply select the project, job, and billable status of the activity they wish to work on. They can also add an optional description to communicate the highlights of their activity. After filling out the fields, they can click the timer button to the right of the drop-downs and that will start the timer.
Adding manual or automatic timed logs from the Zoho calendar view follows a similar procedure. Users should navigate to the calendar view from the time log menu on the left side of the page, select the date they wish to add an entry to and click the plus icon on the upper right corner of the date tile. They can then fill out the details of the entry in the resulting pop-up and choose if they’re adding hours, indicating start and end times, or starting a timer.
Once users are done with their work, they can turn off the timer by clicking the running timer, which will cause it to stop. The time recorded in the session along with all of its details will be automatically logged into the Zoho timesheets.
The data recorded in the timesheets will then be used for payroll processing and the creation of reports, which is why it’s important to get them right. While Zoho advertises accurate time tracking, some bugs and glitches complicate and compromise this function. This is most prominent on mobile, where starting and stopping timers could be quite difficult or downright impossible when the app acts up and would either require a restart or a re-installation to make it work right. This also happens with the desktop version, but not as much as it does on mobile.
2. Attendance Management
Zoho offers a better method of recording and managing attendance for business that eliminates the need for messy and tedious paper-based systems or error-prone manual entry in spreadsheets. Their solution streamlines all aspects of attendance management with modules for timesheets, leaves, and online attendance that calculate work hours and keep track of leave balances automatically. It also facilitates shift scheduling and the request and approval processes for time off, and gives visibility to daily attendance, absences, tardiness, and overtime in real-time.
Aside from the methods described in the time tracking section, employees can also check in for work in Zoho using facial recognition, checking in through on-site kiosks, or geo-restricted and IP-restricted check-ins on their desktop or mobile devices. These make it easy for employees to mark themselves as present for the day, and for managers to gain visibility into workplace activity. This is especially helpful for businesses with remote workforces.
Employees can mark their presence for the day on Zoho by selecting attendance from the menu bar on the left-hand side of the dashboard and clicking the check-in button on the resulting page. If permissions haven’t been activated yet, a pop-up will prompt users to allow the software to access their location. This is very important, especially for businesses with geo-restrictions for signing in. Once that’s sorted out, the timer will begin, and the starting time will be shown near the current date on the check-in list. The check-in list also shows their check-ins for previous dates, along with starting and ending times, total hours spent on the clock, and attendance status (present, absent, on paid or unpaid leave, on duty, etc.). Alternatively, they can also use the kiosk when working on site, or facial recognition for more secure and accountable check-ins that ensure the right employee is checking in at the right time.
Managers can see all of this information on the attendance list view of their dashboard, as well as in six attendance reports that organize the data in colorful and easily comprehensible visuals.
The Zoho daily attendance status report shows the attendance details of employees in a vivid donut chart that displays the total number of employees present for the day, along with the number of users who are currently in, out, on break, and are yet to check in for the current day. A separate pie chart also shows the total number of users, the number of those who are present, on duty, absent, on paid or unpaid leave, on holiday, and more.
The early and late check-in and check-out report on Zoho gives managers insight into who is coming in or out on time, who’s running late, who’s working overtime, and if employees are covering their required hours every day. It lists employees along with details about their check-ins for the day such as first in, last out, and total hours, along with early and late entry and exit times, net hours, and shifts.
Zoho’s employee present or absent status report shows the attendance details of employees over an entire month, with options to see data either in daily or hourly views. Users are listed in a column on the left, and the right is filled with columns chronologically ordered and labeled by day and date. On the day and date columns, employees are marked with letter codes and colors that denote being present, on overtime, on holiday, out for the weekends, absent, on deviation time, on paid or unpaid leave, on duty, and more. Drilling down further into attendance data, the presence hours break-up details individual employees’ hour-by-hour time spending while clocked in for the day. It shows a date range, their first in and last out times every day, total hours captured for each day, duration of paid and unpaid breaks, permission time and overtime, payable hours, and more.
The Zoho attendance data for payroll report details the expected payable days and payable days, expected working days and worked days, paid and unpaid time off, and weekends for each employee over a selected period. This helps calculate payable salaries easily. To help calculate overtime, Zoho also offers an overtime details report that shows overtime balance hours, previous balances, expected hours, adjustment hours, payable hours, and paid hours for every employee.
All of these reports can be filtered to show only the entries that fit users’ criteria and can be exported in XLS or CSV formats. They can also be printed or downloaded as PDFs.
In case there are any mistakes or discrepancies in the records, employees can raise it with their managers and request attendance regularization. Zoho notifies managers and allows them to review and modify the relevant entries with ease.
3. IP and Geo-restrictions
To ensure that employees are clocking in only from IP addresses and locations sanctioned by management, Zoho offers IP and geo-restrictions for marking attendance. This means that employees can only clock in from a range of allowed IPs such as from within the office, or from certain geofenced areas such as specific job sites or client addresses. Enabling these features helps ensure that businesses aren’t being cheated out of resources by unscrupulous time thieves who would clock in and mark themselves present at work when they really aren’t. These restrictions force would-be violators to rethink their strategies, conform to company policies, and practice a culture of honesty.
Adding IP restrictions can be done by navigating to the settings, selecting allowed IPs under user access control, and clicking add IP restriction. This will result in a pop-up where admins can define the range of IP addresses from which users can check in on Zoho, designate the modules for which the restriction will apply, and choose the locations, departments, designations, roles, or employees to which the restriction will apply. Admins can also add exceptions to the restriction for certain locations, designations, or employees.
The same concept applies for geo-restrictions, only that instead of IP addresses, this restriction option defines a location range from which users can check in to Zoho. Geofenced boundaries can be selected on the map, and users outside the virtual borders are effectively locked out of marking their attendance.
To do this, admins should navigate to the settings, select georestriction under user access control, click add georestriction, add the required details, and define the applicability and exceptions of the georestriction. Then, they can pick a place on the map by clicking, or by entering the location name or latitude and longitude coordinates of the place on the search bar in the upper left corner of the map. After that, they can use one of the shapes or the drawing tool on the right-hand side of the map to define the exact boundaries of the geofence. Following the same procedure, admins can add multiple locations on Zoho, including employees’ residences for work-from-home arrangements.
Alternatively, users can also add IP restrictions and geo-restrictions on Zoho using the timesheets and attendance by navigating either to the attendance settings or timesheet settings and defining the restrictions from there. And as business needs develop and change over time, admins may find themselves in need of some changes to their IP restrictions and geo-restrictions. They can easily do this by hovering over the geo-restriction or IP restriction item, clicking on the edit icon that appears, and making the necessary changes.
4. Time Off Management
Zoho promises fast, user-friendly, and efficient time off management by allowing users to create leave policies with highly flexible settings to cater to unique business needs and legal requirements.
Zoho allows time off and leave types to be customized according to industry, team size, location, department, employee role, legislative guidelines, and more. This level of customizability ensures that all bases are covered and businesses can give their employees time off tailored according to unique business needs, geographical location, legal requirements, and even cultural considerations. Businesses even have the option to consider holidays and weekends as days off, and how all of these factor into pay periods.
With Zoho, businesses can create multiple leave policies based on how long an employee has been with the company and other leave entitlements. They can also accommodate special time off requests when life happens, such as maternity and paternity leave, bereavement leave, time off for mental health, and more.
All time off requests can be done using a dedicated leave portal where employees input dates and reasons, cutting down on the red tape usually associated with requesting leaves. Management can review, approve, modify, and deny requests all in one place from the Zoho time off dashboard. This is also where managers can see employees’ leave history, the PTO they’re entitled to, the dates still available to them, and their planned leaves. Plus, the time off calendar gives visibility to who’s currently on leave, upcoming holidays, and the availability of employees so work can be distributed accordingly.
In case circumstances require employees to use their free time to work on critical projects, they can request compensatory time off using Zoho’s streamlined and customizable approval workflow. To better manage absenteeism, Zoho also offers critical insights using the highly customizable Bradford score to identify patterns early on. Additionally, it also keeps track of reduced pay pool data and payable days for accurate payroll processing, as well as specific user-based reports for more granular monitoring.
Selected Positive User Feedback:
- “It is very handy for planning my employees. the integration with zoho books is also a time saver” – Mouaade E. (Source G2)
- “Ease of use, time to market, for clients, and all of the training videos provided by Zoho.” – Verified User in Entertainment (Source G2)
- “The ability to assign and re-assign a job to a Temp from the admin account. (It’s flexible!) The option to personalize the locations and approvals is good.” – Victor Dario L (Source G2)
- “I was really impressed with customer support and service. They are very responsive and helped us quickly get up and running. We still haven’t used all the features but for what we were interested in Timesheet tracking, reports and invoicing this product is everything we wanted. It’s easy to use and our team implemented it very quickly and there wasn’t a steep learning curve” – Loni B. (Source G2)
- “Reduces admin time for myself, temp staff and the client. Integrates with my other software.” – Conrad H. (Source G2)
- “The integration between talents and projects and clients allow for easy matching of talents’ skills and project needs.” – Eric C. (Source Capterra)
- “Zoho was easy to setup and deploy across our temp staff. Its helping us communicate during COVID and continues to allow direct communication and push notifications through the app.” – Chris P. (Source Capterra)
- “It’s easy and employees can see their time in 8n min and hours real time. It’s quick & easy to clock-in and out for the day. So glad this app is available. We really enjoy it’s benefits! Thank you!” – Google User (Source Google Play)
- “The eases of submitting and getting timesheets approved by clients. Customer service is amazing and they have been a great help in assisting me with the set up.” – Verified User (Source G2)
Selected Negative User Feedback:
- “App constantly freezes and crashes. Does not save time stamps or remarks. Worst app I’ve ever used.” – mf.n (Source App Store)
- “Cannot find a way to make the clock take my 30 minute break time. Freezes while clocking time.” – ConsultRH (Source App Store)
- “Navigation can be difficult at times” – Verified User (Source G2)
- “Some parts are a bit clunky and I would like to achieve a different style of timesheet that in time we will be able to sort out.” – Verified User (Source G2)
- “I would like the ability to further customize financial reports, integrate Zoho PhoneBridge, distinguish between multiple temp types within a single Job, and more flexibility with multiple worksite addresses per client.” – Matt M. (Source G2)
- “I consider the price to be really expensive, and the lack of group scheduling is a major problem I found while using it.” – Tabitha S. (Source G2)
- “The mobile portal needs some improvements.” – Verified User in Human Resource (Source G2)
- “Have had issues with timesheets and the calendar not updating in real time and sometimes taking a few hours for information to appear correctly.” – Verified User (Source Capterra)
- “Not as fully Integrated with Zoho Recruit & Zoho Books as i would have liked.” – Steve L. (Source Capterra)
Ratings from Other Reviews
(As of 05/11/2023)
- Capterra: 4.3/5
- G2: 4/5
- App Store: 3.8.4
- Google Play: 3.8/5
- Software Advice: 4.5/5
What’s My Final Verdict on Zoho?
Zoho is a comprehensive cloud-based software suite that caters to businesses of all sizes with over 50 different applications covering various business functions. Its time tracking capabilities, including online timesheets, automated time tracking, and real-time attendance monitoring allow for easy employee schedule management and project time and expense tracking.
In addition to that, Zoho provides advanced reporting capabilities for analyzing employee time data and making informed decisions about resource allocation and productivity. However, it doesn’t have the power, precision, and customizability that I usually like in my analytics.
Zoho offers mobile apps, integrations with third-party software, and a marketplace of extensions and add-ons. But the integrations with apps from the Zoho family seem to be spotty at times, or downright lacking — something I wouldn’t expect with apps from the same developer. The add-ons also serve to drive the price up, and that’s not friendly for small businesses or startups on a budget.
Additionally, the calendar functionality doesn’t update in real time. And worst of all, Zoho’s iOS app is kind of the black sheep of the software. It has a dismal rating on the App Store, owing to its frequent crashes while clocking in. The Android app on the Play Store has a similar score.
Overall, I find Zoho to be a solid HR solution, but I’m not quite impressed by its time tracking features – they’re quite basic. And it’s iOS app is also a concern for field workers. So listen, if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution that has a bit of everything, then Zoho is for you. But you might want to reconsider if you’re in search of a sophisticated time tracking solution.
So, for starters, Zoho is a comprehensive suite of more than 50 cloud-based applications (woah!) – it pretty much has every aspect of business management covered.
I’ll add that I really like the attendance management suite – Zoho People – which lets businesses seamlessly automate the attendance process for employees. And the software also offers extensive leave management features – which is pretty neat!
I’ve gotta say, the calendar feature isn’t the best.
I like it when a calendar schedule updates in real-time so that everyone in a team is on the same page immediately, but unfortunately, Zoho’s calendar does not make the cut.