Zoho Books - Zoho CRM INTEGRATION. FULL OF LIMITATIONS = RENDERED USELESS.

Zoho Books - Zoho CRM INTEGRATION. FULL OF LIMITATIONS = RENDERED USELESS.

A word of caution for anyone thinking of trying the integration. This might save you loads of time. 

SHAME this  isn't clarified in the guidance notes. 

THE MAIN PROBLEM AREAS THAT RENDER THE ZOHO BOOKS - ZOHO CRM INTEGRATION LARGELY USELESS:

1. The GUI of Inventory Modules (from ZohoBooks) are significantly archaic in comparison to the ones in the CRM + with lots of limitations. Limited fields and field types.

2. Record View Page: NO record details view. Once you create an estimate (for example) then you can only view it as a template. What about other fields you may want to exclude from template?? The only way to see it is to edit the record. Ditto in SO's or Invoices. 

3. Emails: If you create a template and send an email using the button in Zoho Books (Save & Send Email), these emails DO NOT show up in a list view, as they would if you sent from a record in the CRM. Resulting in loss of time because you need to look in different places to figure if an Estimate was actually sent. No IMAP integration of emails like in CRM. 

4. ZERO sales enablement: Before you create an invoice, you need to Quote. And the Estimate module in Books being limited in functionality (no tasks, no reminders etc) is a deal breaker in the first place. 

5. NO custom Lookup fields in ZohoBooks: Before you create a quote, a potential is created (to reflect in your sales pipeline) and then comes the quote. There is no way to associate an Estimate in ZohoBooks to a Potential in Zoho CRM. They are all associated with the Contacts - so what if you've multiple potentials for a contact?? Several clicks and navigation through multiple records to get to the potential for which you're quoting. 
PS: In creator you can add ZCRM lookup fields very easily, not sure why that can't be done in Books. 

6. Convoluted nomenclature:
Contacts in CRM is a Contact Person AND in Books it can either be Contact, Account or Vendor. 
Accounts in CRM is a Company AND in Books it is called a Contact.
Vendors in CRM is filed under Contacts in Books in a list view. 

7. Each Customer Account is "tied" to a currency. Meaning, you cannot transact with the customer in different currency other than what is set when the Customer Account record was created. So if a Customer Account record was created with USD then if you want to quote them in GBP - you need to create a duplicate Contact/Customer Account with GBP as currency. This is dumb! Because it renders the "Statement of account" feature useless. 

8. NO WAY to have Parent Account associated with Accounts to circumvent the issue in point 7 OR just in case you're dealing with different branch offices of a Customer and also a head office / parent company. Forget about a SOA for a customer's group of companies. 

9. Delivery Note and Packing slip are just printed using the Invoice record details. So an invoice needs to be created before you can create a Delivery Note or Packing Slip. 
WHATIF your customers are on credit terms of say "Invoice on Delivery" and "Due 30 days from invoice" 
IT messes up the Invoice Date and Due date in your accounts. 
 
10. No option to track status of a Delivery Note / Packing List individually because they're just templates printed using Invoice. 

11. Commercial Invoice: An important one for customs which declares value of the goods being shipped. This is MISSING altogether. Ofcourse you can create a module in creator to do this but when you have 10's of line items its inefficient at best to type it all up because DELUGE doesn't copy subform table in between records.
i.e. If you convert a Sales Order to Invoice - your line items are copied. However if you have a custom module Inventory in creator you cannot link it to ZohoCRM record (say a Quote) and then fetch all the line items into creator module record. As a result - the only option is to do the donkey work and type it all again. 

12. NO Multiple Organisation Setup: XERO has it. SAGE has this. QUICKBOOKS has this. If you're an enterprise, you likely have multiple companies/legal entities in different geo regions. Eg: Zoho USA, ZOHO India or Zoho China etc. 
And it is not essential you keep your billing or accountancy centralised for various reasons such as tax, regulatory or forex rates implication. I don't think the Book product team is even aware of these crucial imperatives that justify the need for Multiple Org Setup when it comes to accounting for Enterprises or even a SME with multiple branch offices. 

13. There is NO way to calculate and add markup at the quote stage for example when creating an Estimate in ZohoBooks. 

14. NO Approval process like in the CRM.

All these points are just from scratching the surface. There are more points but I had enough for now.

MY VERDICT - Unless you're a one man band, nut-bolt seller this integration is highly useless. NOT FOR ENTERPRISE. Better to stick to CRM Inventory modules.

Advice for Zoho Books - CRM Integration Developers.

Here's how you can start fixing some of these and what would make the integration useful. Some are simple fixes:

1. Since a Quote (Estimate) and Sales Orders are more SALES related. Let them be in the CRM. (Atleast until you match the Inventory Modules in Books to be highly customisable like in the CRM) 
2. Allow the ability to convert from Quote or Sales Order in the CRM to an Invoice in Zoho Books. 
3. All Inventory Modules are related to a Potential. So give a look up field in Books to relate records to Potentials. 
4. Remove the limitation of Account "tied" to a currency. This has to be flexible. Let people choose who they want to bill in what currency. 
5. Rename stuff.. to simplify things. 
6. Add Parent Account feature. 
Plus other points as above. 
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