Zoho_logo_2009.jpgWe saw productivity suite provider, Zoho (news, site), attempt to get social with it earlier this year when they released their multi-platform chat program. And then again when they released embeddable gadgets for their applications.

So what makes this time different? Well, instead of a simple gadget or two, Zoho’s kicking out Zoho Projects 2.0. The latest version of their online project management and team collaboration solution is backed by a host of social features that Zoho promises will change how teams get work done. 

Teamwork Nirvana

Zoho claims that Zoho Projects 2.0 goes beyond traditional project management by helping people work together to achieve a common goal. Stating that it's no longer just about tasks, milestones and priorities, Zoho’s made the enlightening realization that it’s also about how people interact. Bent on milking this new realization for all its worth, Zoho has turned their focus to what people need while working on something - whether it's a local team or a distributed team, an internal team, or a customer-facing one.

“Every team is always working in some sort of project, whether that's formally defined or not,” explained Rodrigo Vaca, director of marketing at Zoho. “And that is where Zoho Projects helps. Planning and reporting is just one facet of working on a project. More than anything, teams need a tool that supports the collaboration needed to successfully execute their projects.”

Let’s take a look at these tools, shall we?

Two Dot Oh

The following features are the highlights of the new release according to Zoho:

Project Planning

Manage Projects by creating milestones, tasks, task lists, priorities, completion, dependencies and ownership.
Import from Microsoft Project gives users the option of planning a project in Microsoft Project and then easily tracking and executing that project in Zoho Projects 2.0.

Project Collaboration (the good stuff)

Project Stream is a visual representation that lets users see the latest activities pertaining to their project.
User Status provides a Twitter-like interface where users can securely publish their latest update to their entire team.
Integration with the Zoho Office allows users to create/edit/view documents using just their browser.
Discussions through interactive forums provide a space where everyone can be part of a long-term conversation.
Project Wiki lets users maintain all the project-related content in a centralized place where other project members can contribute easily.
Group Chat and "always on" Chat Room give users a single place where they can go to quickly discuss issues. Multiple chat rooms can be opened to discuss different issues.

Project Tracking

Multiple Reports allows the project manager and the team to visually evaluate the progress against the plan.
Timesheet makes it easy for teams with external customers to log and track time spent by individuals on specific tasks. In addition, integration with Zoho Invoice makes it easy to create, send and track invoices.

You're Not Alone, Zoho

Zoho explains their attempts to break into the social world by stating that they’ve realized getting work done is “less about the work” or “the plan” and “more about the people that work to make that plan happen.” The new offerings attempt to make it easier for people to stay connected. Zoho hopes more connectivity will translate to an easier time staying on top of whatever is going on within their team and or project.

It's not an earth-shattering realization, now is it?

In fact, unless you’ve been asleep for the last couple of years, then you’re probably well aware of the social movement and all its implications. Everyone in their right mind is jumping at the chance to be more social—heck, Google is even attempting to redefine e-mail (and maybe the Web along with it?) with its mega social mashup, Google Wave.

But of course, this leads us (and many others, we're sure) to wonder where the enterprise fits into all of this social hubbub. Will Zoho’s new offerings help to answer that question? Check out the tools in detail here, and let us know what you think.