Written by Randi Zimmermann | UPDATED August 31, 2020
In my previous blog post, I defined Zoho Projects and some of the key features that Beckmann Collaborative uses in the application. This article dives into some of the features that you'll notice upon first logging into Zoho Projects.
The first time you log in to any project management platform, it might be intimidating. In Zoho Project you will see feeds, projects, dashboards, and task lists. No need to fear, this article will guide you through with some helpful directions.
The first screen you see will either be your feed or your dashboard - depending on the default setup with your organization. The feed is similar to one you might see in a social media feed - showing real-time updates about what tasks have been opened, closed, or commented on. This can be useful for cross-team communication.
In this article, I want to cover the features available in your home dashboard. At Beckmann Collaborative, we use the dashboard to give us a high-level overview of what is happening across all of our projects with clients. It helps us focus on what needs to be done on a daily and weekly basis. You'll find your dashboard by clicking the Home button in the top left corner of your Zoho Projects screen.
The Home button is accessible in the top left corner within the Zoho Projects application.
The default dashboard has a Welcome message and several widgets as you scroll down the page. Each of these widgets can be moved or hidden to customize your dashboard, based on your business and preferences. Think of a widget like a snapshot of a particular report or progress update in your Zoho Project, such as your list of tasks due today.
As Beckmann Collaborative's project management processes have evolved, so has our use of Zoho Projects. I have changed my dashboard a few times to reflect what I find most useful and pertinent. To hide or show widgets, you can use the button with 3 dots at the top right corner of the dashboard. The rest of this article outlines each widget available on your Zoho Projects dashboard.
This button allows you to remove or add widgets to your Zoho Projects dashboard.
When you click the 3 dots on the right side, a drop-down menu will appear with the list of widgets turned on or off. This is how you can customize your Zoho Projects dashboard with the widgets you want to see.
When they are turned 'on' (or green) they will appear in your dashboard in the order shown. All of the widgets that are turned 'off' will appear in this drop-down list with a grey button, but not on your dashboard. You can click a widget, then drag and drop to reorder them.
You can add up to 11 widgets to your Zoho Projects dashboard.
Widgets are Dynamic
Each widget has a small refresh button at the top of the box. As you complete tasks or resolve issues, you can click this refresh button to get updated information from the widget. Below, I outline each widget and the information that they provide.
My Tasks widget shows a summary of all the tasks assigned to you that are due in the near future, across all of your projects. You see the task name, project name, and the due date in green. From this widget, you can click on the name of the task and it will open in a new tab.
Similarly, there is another widget called Tasks for My Team. It shows your own tasks as well as anyone else in your company with tasks assigned to them. It defaults to Overdue Tasks, but you can click the dropdown menu to switch it to Today. Conveniently, Tasks for My Team also shows a small thumbnail photo of the person assigned to each task on the list. You can use the 'View More' button to see a comprehensive list of tasks that are due across all projects and users.
This is a handy widget to prepare yourself for the week ahead. It's a snapshot of the top 10 tasks on your list. When you click the View More button, you will get the full list of all tasks assigned to you. Then you can filter the view by the date range to narrow your focus and help you plan your work for the week.
My Tasks shows a summary of the upcoming tasks assigned to you, whereas Tasks for My Team shows everyone's tasks.
The dashboard widget called My Overdue Work Items shows a list of all the tasks and issues assigned to you that are past the due date, across all projects. Anything that is assigned to you and not marked as 'Closed' by its due date will appear here (we will cover task status in subsequent blog posts).
My Overdue Work Items also has a red headline, drawing your attention to tasks that have not been completed by their assigned date. I suggest keeping this at the top of your dashboard, forcing you to review it daily. And remember that project timelines shift based upon what's happening. You may need to adjust your due dates when that happens (taking them out of this list and moving them into the My Tasks list).
My Overdue Work Items show you how many days each task is overdue in red on the right.
This dashboard widget summarizes all of the tasks assigned to you that are due today, across all projects. This widget will reflect some of the same tasks that are shown in My Tasks, but it will filter the list to only show tasks with a due date of today.
This is another incredibly handy widget to get you focused and productive for the day. If you have done a good job of planning your tasks for the week, then this list will be your go-to for the day. It is supremely satisfying to click the refresh button and see your to-do list shrink as you complete tasks.
My Work Items Due Today shows you all of the tasks that are assigned to you and due today.
Zoho Projects allows you to log work hours and track time spent on tasks and issues. This reporting widget shows a summary of the time that you have logged within the past 7 days, not including today. The time is color-coded by the type of time - 'Billable' (teal) and 'Non-Billable' (red). This is shown as a bar graph of your hours breakdown and a summary of your hours for the past 7 days along the bottom of the widget.
When you click the button at the top of the widget that reads 'View More', it opens a page with a more in-depth Timesheet report. This page outlines each task that has time tracked to it, breaking things down to the minute. The report will default to show only your own hours and the 7 day time period.
If you have budget-sensitive projects, then this report is vital to your success. Clicking on the Project Report will compare your tracked hours to the project budget (if you have set one).
The My Timesheet widget gives a snapshot of the hours you spent that week on both 'Billable' and 'Non-Billable' tasks.
The My Calendar widget provides a Gantt Chart view of tasks due and events scheduled in the current week. This widget will be wider than the other widgets on your Zoho Project dashboard because it shows each task's start and due date throughout the entire week, including weekends. This widget also has a 'View More' button at the top which takes you to a larger calendar page showing project tasks throughout the calendar month.
If you are a fan of Gantt Charts or simply viewing a project's task list in a calendar view, then you will love this widget and associated report. It's another tool that is helpful for planning your week and understanding what is coming up / due.
My Calendar shows your task start and due dates in a Gantt Chart format.
My Overview is a graphical representation of your overall status in tasks, issues, and milestones across projects. It shows three charts summarizing what you have completed for the lifetime of your Zoho Projects use. It compares the number of closed tasks, issues, and milestones compared to the number of each that remain open.
If you are interested in comparing long-term productivity tracking, this might be useful. It doesn't, however, have any information on time spent per task, issue, or milestone so it is limited in that sense. It's attractive, but not necessarily useful for us.
My Overview shows a chart like this for Tasks, Issues, and Milestones
This widget is only used if you choose to enable "Issues" in your Zoho Project. Most commonly, Issues are associated with Zoho Desk or Zendesk - tools used for clients and customers to submit "tickets" with problems they are facing and need your help with.
The My Issues summarizes these roadblocks assigned to you and whether they have been resolved. At Beckmann Collaborative, we have just started using testing out the 'Issues' feature to help us track specific requests from clients such as social media post ideas and Zoho pain points.
Where My Issues shows issues that are assigned to you, Issues for My Team displays any issues assigned to other members of your team. Like the Tasks for My Team widget, Issues for My Team also allows you to filter by issues that are overdue and due today. Once an issue has been resolved, it will no longer appear in the widget. You can access a more comprehensive list of all team issues by clicking the 'View More' button at the top of the widget.
My Issues lists the issues assigned to you and Issues for My Team shows overdue Issues across your team.
If you work on large, long term projects and use Milestones, this feature will be useful for you. At Beckmann Collaborative, most of our projects are recurring (digital marketing management, operational streamlining, etc.) for small and mid-sized businesses. For us, the Milestones feature is rarely needed.
If you subscribe to the Agile philosophy of project management, the milestone feature may be used at the end of each sprint. Overall, this widget houses a summary of project milestones across all of the projects.
The My Events widget shows you a list of meetings and upcoming events that have been added to your event schedule in Zoho Project. These are different from the events and activities that show up in your Zoho CRM calendar.
To schedule an event related to one of your projects, you can navigate two different ways. One: click on the 'View More' button at the top of the widget. That will open up your calendar where a button at the top will read "Schedule Event." A form will pop-out from the side. Choose the project associated with the event and fill out the form with details such as the title, description, date and time of your event. Two: You can arrive at the same form by clicking on the plus sign at the top right of your screen. It will default to add a new task, so you can click the three buttons along the bottom to reveal events.
My Events shows you a list of upcoming meetings and other notable events.
This is the form used for scheduling an event or meeting. Anyone (team members or client users) can be invited to an event.
If the Zoho Projects dashboard overwhelms you or you have questions about it, then please email me. We can discuss Zoho Projects together and decide how your dashboard should be set up. I can train you on how to do things or we can do it for you.