Simply Asset Finance has put Zoho Applications at the heart of its Asset Finance organisation. The company also leverages Microsoft and Salesforce applications as it looks to disrupt the sector. Enterprise Times caught up with Andy Trimmer, Head of Tech at Simply Asset Finance. He explains how they came to use Zoho and how it fits into the wider software architecture.
Since its founding in 2017 Trimmer has helped to create a unique architecture at the fast-growing organisation. One of the first applications it deployed in April 2017 was Zoho CRM. Since then, it has added several Zoho applications to solve issues that have arisen.
Applications now in use include CRM, Cliq, Sprints, Social, Assist, Forms, Survey, Campaigns, SalesIQ, Phonebridge, Flow, WorkDrive, Desk and Projects. Trimmer is also looking at Orchestly, a business workflow management tool, an application Zoho launched in 2019. With so many applications in place, Trimmer is also taking advantage of the consolidated pricing provided by Zoho One, that gives him access to more than 45 different applications in total.
A unique architecture
Enterprise Times asked Trimmer why Simply chose Zoho CRM?
“The first thing that we needed to do was prove to our investors was that we could originate enough business to get our loan book up and running profitably. We only needed that pipeline view, ensuring that we were keeping everything moving and having a consistent view of our pipeline. Zoho CRM was a recommendation from the CTO of our private equity partnership. He put us in connection with one of the Zoho partners that did that original implementation.”
Trimmer built an architecture that consists of applications from Microsoft, Zoho One and the Force.com platform. When he needs a new piece of technology, he looks at each of those first to consider what to use. The company has no hardware on-premise and leverages Azure, Office 365 and Azure AD. Trimmer also takes advantage of PowerApps and SQL server in a virtual environment.
For its financial solutions, it is using applications on the Force.com platform. Q2 lending provides a lending and leasing solution (previously called CL Leasing and CL Loan). For its internal finance solution, it is using Twinfield online accounting software from Wolters Kluwer. The systems now integrate seamlessly with Zoho. Simply had to work with Q2 to develop the UK requirements for the software and integrations to Twinfield and Zoho CRM.
Why go so hybrid at Simply Asset Finance?
Trimmer explained why he did not go fully Salesforce, saying:
“For us, it’s what if Salesforce was to go down? Unlikely, but it’s still about understanding the risk. Do I have enough data held in the accounting system or enough data held in the CRM to continue the business running?”
He expanded his strategy further saying: “I do see that the risk is relatively low. I also think it does two different things. One, there is a risk, I can show anybody that I’m working with that, I’ve thought about that risk, and we’re mitigating that risk. Secondly, it can slightly pigeonhole you into the solutions that are available to you. I really enjoy having these multiple areas of infrastructure or enterprise packages or software. So we can pick and choose as we need to with what’s right for the business. If I go solely on Force.com, I’ve only got what’s available on Force.com.”
Extending the power of Zoho CRM
Where Simply has taken advantage of Zoho CRM is extending it to deliver automation across several business processes. Stringer noted that they use Zoho for their opportunities, phone call management (using Phonebridge) and task management before they put them through the application phase. The system automates processes based on predefined triggers to help with mail merges and workflow documentation. Simply uses WorkDrive for external documentation. Its internal documents remain segregated on a Sharepoint drive. This separation not only helps with business continuity, but it also enhances security. The integration points are key, and Trimmer confirmed that they monitor them continuously.
He summarized: “Zoho is our one view of the customer. Everybody knows that within our business and everybody has access to it. Suppose you are talking to a specific customer and you need to see their information, from their opportunities to their emails, to their phone calls to the marketing content I sent them last week (Simply uses Zoho Campaigns for this). In that case, you go to Zoho to see that information. So if any of those integrations are not working, that is not up to date, and that is not what we want.”
Flow integration provides powerful automation
Zoho Flow powers that integration. ET asked Trimmer how they use it? He answered: “After a customer ends up signing the document, the final part of us activating a deal is then sending back our countersigned versions. That happens using a combination of Workflows and Flow. So at the point that the contract is made within the system, it tells the CRM. The CRM creates all the work drive locations and the links required for a customer to access it. This includes setting passwords, printer logic and then seeing if the customer has already set a password for themselves, or if we need to set one for them. It sends out an email that says: ‘Welcome, you are now part of the Simply family, here are your documents, and if you have any queries, please contact us.’
“We’ve also used it for certain trigger points within the life of the deal. So we send out congratulations at one year. We’re doing that by passing information back from the contract into the CRM.”
The difference is that the Zoho applications integrate seamlessly as they are all on the same platform. It means that Simply can leverage Flow and Orchestly to create, automate and enhance business processes
Moving to Zoho One
While Simply started with just Zoho CRM, it soon added new applications from the Zoho suite. ET asked Trimmer how they came to move to Zoho One.
“We were looking at Project software, at chat software, and we were looking for an agile business in general. One of the key things was everybody had access to the CRM. Everyone should be involved in change, and everyone should be involved in constantly communicating with each other. It only took us spotting two or three of those applications where we thought we need that. The architecture is very modular, and it’s modular for a reason. That’s because a lot of people try to make a piece of software do something that it shouldn’t. They then get really upset when it doesn’t do it.
“We allow each piece of software within our architecture as a whole, to do what it is designed to do. The integration is just to allow those pieces of talk. For me, Zoho had enough of those modular pieces that I could turn on and off, as I needed to, and either for tactical or strategic solutions, to make it a good justifiable decision for our business.”
Trimmer is now looking at Zoho Orchestly and Bookings. With the shift to virtual working, the company needed a way to set up virtual meetings with customers. Trimmer’s first point of call was Zoho, where he found Bookings.
Trimmer believes that there is a financial benefit from leveraging Zoho, but he has focused on the operational benefits. For example, they were doing 80 proposals a month. They now do between two to three hundred. In a wider context, he explained:
“We look at it in three ways. We can change the process, change the number of people running that process, or change the technology. One of the things that I think is key is, people often have to implement either process or people because technology takes too long.
“We’re able to flip that coin out and say, well, actually technology we can release in no time at all. So, that extra person you were going to hire to send out welcome packets or to ensure that all the emails were being read and coming in, ensure that we were running collections activities successfully and pull together the data to make sure that they were there. We never had to hire those people. Because we were able to implement the technology part of the triangle before we had to.”
He summarised saying: “It has saved us time, effort and large amounts of money by providing us with an easy to deploy scalable solutions that continue to offer extra functionality day by day.”
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
Trimmer recommends Zoho and gave three reasons why saying: “It’s a sweetie bag. I also think it’s a great way to start the business. It got me thinking about pieces of software, that weren’t at the forefront of my mind. It has become a bit of an innovation bubble. One of the things that I would say is we have seen Zoho grow and grow on a massively positive trajectory. The growth in Zoho benefits us as a business. We are number one fans hoping that they grow more and more and more. Lastly, the ethos that they’re running with, we appreciate that ethos.
“There’s a lot going on at the moment about going to work in rural communities. Simply works with manufacturers, recycling plants, they’re all over the country, and they’re not necessarily technologically savvy. It’s about technology being for everybody, and I love what Zoho is doing around them, how they develop and how they push forward. There’s so much going on.”
Zoho has not yet hit the mainstream for its Financial Solutions, and there are still areas of vertical industry functionality that it does not have the features to support. However, every business will find at least one of the Zoho applications provide something of use. If, like Simply it becomes a strategic decision can Zoho win even more and bigger customers during 2021?