Zoho Books Review 2018 | Key Things to Know Before You Start

Last updated  on February 11, 2018 09:00 EST

Zoho Books is the accounting software program from Zoho, a software company that offers a suite of 40+ business applications, including CRM and inventory,

Zoho Books is my accounting software choice for very small / micro businesses, but given it caters for such a wide range of business needs, there's absolutely no reason why it isn't the best option for many freelancers or larger SMBs. Zoho Books provides the perfect hybrid between the ease of use of FreshBooks (ideal for freelancers), and the functionality of Xero and QuickBooks (better suited to larger SMBs). By choosing Zoho Books, you can be comfortable that you have a scalable accounting software package that can support your business as it flourishes!



Top Zoho Books Pros


Best pricing model

The Basic, Standard and Professional versions of Zoho Books have monthly costs of $9, $19 and $29, respectively. The pricing for all three tiers is very accessible for both freelancers, and small and medium-sized businesses - the next cheapest highest tier offering from the companies I've reviewed is $50, making Zoho Books over 40% cheaper!


Easy to use accounting software

Similar ranking to FreshBooks in my "ease of use" rankings given its simplicity and excellent user interface, despite having a wider range of features (which usually adds complexity).


Rich suite of features

Zoho Books offers a very wide range of accounting features, which in most instances are in line with the offerings from Xero and QuickBooks (both score 5/5 in my ranking for "features").

Top Zoho Books Cons


No integrated payroll module

Whilst generally not an issue for freelancers or very small businesses, for some companies with employees, having an integrated payroll option does create additional time-saving opportunities.



The number of integrations that Zoho Books offers is generally a lot lower than its competitors. This could be an issue if your company already uses a number of applications that are not compatible with Zoho Books. That being said, Zoho does offer its own suite of applications aside (e.g. CRM, Mail and Creator), which can all be integrated with Zoho Books.


zoho books pricing review

Zoho Books is by far the most cost effective and affordable accounting software choice. There is a free trial available (without the need for a credit card), but only for 14 days rather than the 30 offered by most of its competitors.

Zoho Books offers 3 different levels of pricing / packages: Basic, Standard and Professional. As you move up the tiers, the limits on number of contracts and users reduce, in addition to the features available increasing.

Basic - this package is ideal if you have a small number of clients, since there is a limit of 50 contacts only. In addition, it is likely that you will be the only user, as this option allows access for one user only (plus one accountant). The features offered encompass the core ones you would expect to see if your accounting needs are simple - bank reconciliation, invoicing, expense tracking, recurring transactions - in addition to projects and timesheets.

Standard - this works best if your needs are slightly more complex than the Basic package, but you don't need the full functionality that the Professional package offers (see below). The Standard package allows up to 500 contacts and supports 3 users (plus one accountant). It includes the features of the Basic package, in addition to managing bills that you owe and vendor credits you have received. Another useful feature in Standard is reporting tags, allowing you to create and allocate reporting tags (i.e. keywords) to particular transactions, and subsequently generate custom reports using these tags. 

Professional - this package allows an unlimited number of contacts, and supports up to 10 users. It includes all the features in the Standard package, in addition to creating purchase orders and sales orders, and managing inventory.

Prices based on rolling monthly plan. Click image to see Zoho Books pricing plans

If you sign up on a month-to-month payment plan, expect to pay $9 per month for Basic, $19 per month for Standard, and $29 per month for Professional. If you sign up for a 1-year plan, you get 2 months fee, which is a saving of ~17% - equates to yearly savings of $18 for Basic, $38 for Standard, and $58 for Professional.

If you require access for a greater number of users than the packages allow, then this will cost an additional $2 per user per month on a rolling monthly contract, or a discounted $20 per user per year on an annual contract.


zoho books ease of use

Even if you're only using a subset of the features available in Zoho Books, given the way the platform has been set up, the features you're not using are unlikely to interfere with this approach. Hence why Zoho Books is the perfect balance between ease of use and depth of functionality.

The Zoho Books dashboard is very user friendly and set up in an intuitive manner. The process of familiarizing yourself with the interface and setting up should be quick and simple, even if you don't have a background in accounting!

Credit: Zoho Books


zoho books invoicing

The simplicity of the invoicing process is a clear strength of Zoho Books. In a couple of clicks from the dashboard, you're taken to the "New Invoice" page below, where you can fill in the necessary details to complete the invoice.

Credit: Zoho Books


zoho books reporting

Zoho Books allows you to run a wide range of relevant reports, but a slight drawback is that there is limited ability to customize these.

  • Business overview - profit and loss, cash flow, balance sheet.
  • Sales - by customer, by item, by sales person.
  • Inventory - summary, valuation summary, FIFO cost lot tracking.
  • Receivables - customer balances, aging summary, aging details, invoice details, retainer invoice details, sales order details, estimate details.
  • Payments received - payments received, time to get paid, credit note details, refund history.
  • Recurring invoices - recurring invoice details.
  • Payables - vendor balances, aging summary, aging details, bills details, payments made, refund history, purchase order details, purchase orders by vendor.
  • Purchases and expenses - purchases by vendor, purchases by item, expense details, expenses by category, expenses by customer, expenses by project, mileage expenses by employee.
  • Taxes - sales tax liability, 1099 report.
  • Projects and timesheet - project summary, project details, timesheet details.
  • Accountant - accountant transactions, general ledger, journal report, trial balance.
  • Currency - realized gain or loss, unrealized gain or loss.
  • Activity - system mails, activity logs, exception report, portal activities, client reviews, API usage.


zoho books support

There's no doubting the quality and responsiveness of support provided by Zoho Books - I couldn't find any flaws in my testing! Zoho Books offers 24/5 support via email, phone or live chat - all options are very friendly and helpful, and therefore should help you find solutions to your questions quickly. I particularly like the flexibility of having these 3 options, as you can choose the most suitable one depending on your preferences and the type of query you have.

Zoho Books also offers a range of online materials (e.g. guides, user forums, videos and webinars), which on average tend to be more detailed than its competitors.

Credit: Zoho Books


zoho books mobile app

The Zoho Books mobile app is available on iOS, Android and Windows, and allows you to complete a large number of tasks via mobile without needing to go back to the desktop version.

Functionality includes:

  • Invoicing and quotes (including creating and sending)
  • Client management
  • Detailed dashboard and reports
  • Expenses (including snapping pictures of receipts)
  • Payment tracking
  • Time tracking


zoho books user access

 Zoho Books offers 4 levels of user access:

  • Admin - allows full access to all applications.
  • Staff - allows access to all applications, except for reports, settings and accountant tools.
  • Staff - Assigned Customers Only - for assigned customers and vendors only, allows access to all modules, transactions and data. No access to reports, settings and accountant tools applications.
  • Timesheet Staff Only -  access to timesheets only.

The permissions above are sufficient if your needs are relatively straightforward. However, they are inadequate if you need more customized  permissions on more granular screen or activity levels.

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