Podio Project Management Review

Podio Review
3.5
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Pros

  • Incredible customization
  • Top-notch flexibility
  • Used in just about any sector
  • Benefits all company departments
  • Facilitates collaboration and teamwork

Cons

  • Initial setup has a steep learning curve
  • Boring UI
  • No gamification
  • Free version allows just five users
  • Top features are paid

ABOUT

What do Excel, email, and Lego have in common? That’s the odd combination that inspired Podio!

Anders Pollas, Jon Froda, and Andreas Haugstrup Pedersen were members of the then tiny Danish blogging community, and so got to know each other. By 2007, they were pioneering the first video blogs for Scandinavian businesses. They even designed a tool for blog-wiki. In the midst of this, they realized that while businesses invested in expensive enterprise software to manage work, the job was eventually accomplished through Excel and email. The versatility of the former combined with the ubiquitousness of the latter usually saved the day.

The trio realized that a tool to manage projects, documents, and communication from one platform would save companies a lot of time. As a result, they founded Hoist in 2009, with Kasper Hulthin joining soon after. It was designed to be like Lego – providing a set of building blocks so that you can structure an app that works just right for you. As the domain name was already taken, they renamed the app Podio, meaning ‘platform’ in Italian.

Facebook For The Workspace

They used a unique strategy to build Podio. After the first round of funding for $120,000, they began acquiring customers rapidly. Branding it ‘Facebook for the workplace’, they had more than 50 companies paying to use the app’s Beta version in less than a year. This strategy paid off. It ensured that they worked with serious commitment, and customer feedback improved the product by leaps and bounds.

What followed was the stuff entrepreneurial dreams are made of. In August 2010, serial entrepreneur Tommy Ahlers took over as CEO, putting his money where his mouth was and invested $500,000. VCs pumped in $4 million by February 2011, and the SAAS behemoth, Citrix, acquired Podio in April 2012. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Podio has evolved into a highly versatile tool that combines project management with social collaboration, both within and outside the organization. The fact that it has more than half a million customers in 150+ countries is a testament to its success. Their list of marquee clients includes Sony, NFL, Volvo, Deloitte, and Sotheby’s.

How Does It Work?

A project manager’s day usually involves accessing information, making decisions, and communicating them. In a conventional workstation, it involves juggling between documents, project management pages, and, most of all, a communication platform. Consider this – on average, an American worker spends 2.5 hours on email every day. It’s often a frustrating mess of hunting for emails and attachments. Now, what if all of this could be accomplished from one single application without the hassles? That’s precisely what Podio does. It combines sharp project management tools with slick collaboration features, and it does it with panache.

All information related to a project is available on a single page. It includes status, documents, dates, prices, and personnel. Any decision taken is instantly visible to the relevant people. You can seamlessly collaborate with both employees and clients. As a result, the meeting that could have been an email is now an even easier group chat.

Customized Project Management

The project management tools are just as effective. You can easily manage projects, tasks, and users. The users may be employees or external collaborators like members of the client team. There are also tools to manage workflows, deliver visual reports, and view sales dashboards.

What makes the software especially unique is that the code is written on top of an API. Combine that with an ecosystem of hundreds of Podio Apps (which handle testimonials), and you have an incredibly flexible tool. That’s why it can handle functions as diverse as CRM, sales, HR, and more with aplomb. Further, the customization that comes along with this allows it to makes it easy to use in sectors as dissimilar as PR, IT, law, supply chain management, and real estate.

You can also create Apps of your own without writing a line of code. You just need to drag and drop the fields, tools, and templates you need. Podio also has a very active community. They often share apps they’ve created for themselves on the App Market. There are more than 700 such apps available. They are also useful in case you need any help in figuring out how to make Podio work for you. Besides, the app also works on your mobile devices.

PRICING

Podio offers five pricing plans. In addition to those mentioned below, the company offers an Enterprise version that provides bespoke pricing and plans for large teams. Further, the rates are different if you choose to take an annual subscription instead of paying every month.

Plans

Free

Basic

Plus

Premium

Price / Month

$9 / user

$14 / user

$24 / user

Price / Month
For Annual Subscription

$7 / user

$11 / user

$19 / user

Users

5

Task Management

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Apps and Workspaces

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Unlimited Storage

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Unlimited Items

Yes

Yes

Yes

User Management

Yes

Yes

Yes

Unlimited External Users

Yes

Yes

Yes

Light User Role

Yes

Yes

Automated Workflows

Yes

Yes

Read-only Access

Yes

Yes

Visual Reports

Yes

Contact Sync

Yes

Interactive Sales Dashboards

Yes

Advanced Workflow Orchestration (GlobiFlow)

Yes

 

FEATURES​

Task Management

Podio allows you to assign and manage tasks with flexibility. The Tasks icon is available in the horizontal bar at the top of Podio. Under it, you have the tabs My Tasks, Delegated Tasks, Completed Tasks, and All Completed Tasks. The first tab shows all the tasks that are your responsibility.

You can also create a task here, specifying its name, the person responsible, and due date and time. You can attach it to any item or workspace, and add a description, a file, or labels. If this is a repetitive task, you set it to repeat as often as you choose, easily doable from a dropdown menu. Once set, along with the desired intervals of repetition, a new task will be automatically created when you have completed the previous task. If you want a reminder, that’s just as easy. Just specify the day and time!

The app’s task management feature is simple to set, easy to review, and delegate. Toggling between the tabs tells you how well you and your team are performing.

Apps and Workspaces

Workspaces usually refer to a department, and an App implies a function of a department. The apps available in the App Market address most of the common functionalities. These Apps were created and shared by other Podio users, and so, you can use them. While Apps can be added to a workspace and used as is, they are a readily available base template that can be tinkered to your needs.

The tinkering is easy, just as creating your App is. It only involves some drag and drop, renaming, workflows, and adding people. As with everything in Podio, it might take a little while to figure out, but once you’ve made your first App, the ones to follow are effortless.

Creating An App

First, you go to the relevant workspace and click on the Add App button. While creating a new App, you first define whether it is a standard one, or has to do with events or contacts. There are more advanced specifications that let you set how notifications are sent, how it’s visible in the organization stream, and if others can edit it. You can even add an icon so that it’s easily recognizable. For example, a design App can have a brush icon, while one related to a particular client can use their logo.

Once done, it presents with a blank template. The fields that you can drag to populate it appear on the left. You have a choice of thirteen fields that cover just about any option you may need. There are also text boxes and category boxes, where you again have multiple options to choose from, such as inline, simple list, or a dropdown menu. If the category is Image, the options to choose from could be photo, illustration, and painting.

Modifying Fields

You can have a date field, which will help you connect it to the calendar. Also available is a relationship field, which allows you to connect two apps, like a project to a client or a sales lead to an employee. There are contact fields, link fields for URLs or files, and money fields. Also, there is a progress field, which has a horizontal bar that can be made longer or shorter to indicate a percentage, which could denote progress in a project or the possibility of a sale being closed. Finally, you have the calculation field, which can use other fields from your Podio database as the variables.

In keeping with Podio’s philosophy of extreme customization, each field can be renamed, made optional, or mandatory. It can also be kept hidden.

That’s all it takes to create an App. Since most functions are likely to be covered in existing ones, it’s best to choose one from the App Market and fine-tune it. If Apps containing the options you are looking for are not available, you can create an App by writing code. In case you need someone to do it, Podio will help you connect with someone suitable.

Project Management

In your workspace, you can add and manage projects with ease by just adding the Projects App to it. Then, you enter all project details like name, start and end dates, the person responsible, as well as team members. Once you’ve defined the basics, you switch to the Deliverables App. Here, you can define deliverables by date, have a progress bar to track work completed at a glance, assign responsibilities, and upload files. Documents can be attached through any of the file-sharing apps that are integrated with Podio, like Google Docs, Dropbox, and more. You can also add files from your computer.

Likewise, you can schedule meetings by setting the agenda, time, and the people who can attend. Further, with the software’s GoToMeeting integration, meetings can be conducted in HD right from your desk. Once the meeting is over, tasks can be set to ensure that the event serves its purpose.

The Activity app gives you a bird’s eye view of all the projects on your plate. You can add comments, add updates, and tag files here itself. Apps for budget, client collaboration, and more can also be added to your project management page.

User Management

From the user management page, which is available only in the paid version, admins can see all the users, observe the projects they’re involved in, and move them around if needed. This is especially useful if you’re in HR and want to best utilize your resources. You can see who has their hands full, and who can deal with some additional work. You can also observe who contributes the most.

There are three kinds of users. They are admins, regular users, and light users. Regular users can communicate, add, manage, delete, or export (to Excel) the apps, and create reports. In addition to these functions, the admin can also add, manage, delete, or export apps they haven’t developed themselves. Further, they can reorder apps in a workspace, change user permissions, and publish Apps in the App Market. The Light User is akin to a guest, who can only observe and comment when invited to a workspace. This is only available in the Plus and Premium plans and is best suited for a consultant or a client.

Automated Workflows

You can set simple automated workflows in the Free and Basic versions. It follows the rule that if a certain condition is satisfied, a specified action is taken. To explain, if the project is completed in the Project Management App, the Testimonial App can send an Email asking the client for a testimonial. On the other hand, the costlier versions come with more advanced workflows. It can add one more condition. For instance, you can set the workflow so that a testimonial is requested only if the project is completed and client feedback is good.

Automated workflows add a level of sophistication, ensuring that actions are taken just as they should. For more complicated workflows, you could look in the App Market, or code a customized App.

Visual Reports

All versions of Podio come with the ability to generate a wide range of reports. You just have to manipulate the views and filters to generate reports that help you analyze data. For example, in the Project Management App, you can create a filter to display all the projects you oversee. You can then click to save the view, and generate a report based on it. You can opt to order the data alphabetically or numerically. The report is finally displayed as a table.

By applying more filters and playing with the view, you can dive in for a closer look. Here’s an example. You can choose the filter to display only the deliverables from one project. Then, you click the ‘+’ button beside the report icon to adjust the options to calculate the time spent on that project, split by the employees working on it. You can then choose to display the data by hours in a public view so that all team members can see it. On saving, the amount of time spent by each person on the project is displayed in a table.

Reports help you get a quick overview of budgets, project status, deadlines, targets, sales pipelines, and more. In the Premium version, you can display the data in a bar chart or line graph.

Advanced Workflows (GlobiFlow)

GlobiFlow is an automation add-on designed specifically for Podio. The company seems to have taken most of the suggestions from the Podio community and incorporated it into this tool. Unfortunately, it is only available to Premium and Enterprise users. This feature ensures you spend less time searching for data, managing Apps, and tracking changes across the system. It can warn you of critical issues, send messages automatically, and even display data on your website.

Globiflow allows you to set advanced rules to perform specific actions when something is updated in Podio. In other words, advanced workflows can set off a chain of actions based on particular triggers and filters. Actions include automatically assigning tasks, updating items, and sending emails or SMS’. A useful feature allows triggers to be linked to dates, like deadlines. What’s more, PDFs can be generated, containing data that can range from invoices to contracts.

Besides sending emails, an email received can also trigger a series of actions. Further, emails can also contain buttons that trigger workflows when clicked.

Similarly, data in Podio can be automatically updated to your website. Most sites usually show outdated information when it comes to stats like revenue, the number of employees, and so on. With GlobiFlow, changes to stats like these can be automatically updated. For instance, vacant positions can go up on your recruitment page and then be taken off when personnel is recruited without you having to move a muscle. With Globiflow, data can be displayed in more attractive and colorful ways. It can also be inserted into any App or Workspace.

GlobiFlow makes Podio more dynamic, lifting it from a project management application to a comprehensive business management tool. Podio claims it can save a massive 40 hours of manual work every month.

INTEGRATIONS

With Podio’s unique architecture of having an API as its foundation, it is built for integration. There are, of course, hundreds of misleadingly named ‘Apps’, which are essentially functions built on the platform. You can also build a bespoke integration with its easy API. Then, there’s oddly named GlobiFlow, an in-house app integration that delivers stunning automation.

Besides these, there is a wide variety of useful integrations with external apps. In keeping with the company’s desire to reduce dependency on, if not eliminate, email, and attachments completely, there are a lot of data sharing and communication apps. Here’s the complete list of integrations:

  • Dropbox
  • GoToMeeting
  • Excel
  • Google Drive
  • Email
  • Sharefile
  • Google Calendar
  • Zendesk
  • Hightail
  • Onedrive
  • Zapier
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Evernote
  • Campaign Monitor
  • SugarSync
  • Box
  • Freshbooks

There also are a host of extensions that support Podio. They are:

  • Zapier
  • TMetric
  • bizGadgetz
  • Yinno
  • Track.ly by 500apps
  • QuivvyTools Architecture 360°
  • Time Doctor
  • Dashboards by Plecto
  • REIvolution
  • Gravity Forms
  • Overview
  • Marketing Automation with Mautic
  • Data Copy
  • Sync, Backup
  • Insights
  • Power Tools
  • CatiLogic Express
  • Global tasklist for Podio
  • Timeneye
  • CLINQ Business Telephony for your Browser
  • Teamweek Button
  • Zillow
  • SmartGantt
  • Hubstaff Time Tracking with Screenshots and Monitoring
  • Device Magic
  • ProcFu
  • Export
  • Dynamic Forms
  • GlobiMail
  • PieSync
  • Taskpod
  • Advanced Printing Templates (APT)
  • smartphone
  • Portal
  • PodioTools Email Tool
  • Timely
  • Timesheets by TimeCamp
  • PoodleSync
  • Skyvia Data Integration
  • WebMerge
  • Automate.io
  • Advanced Webform
  • SuperMenu for Chrome
  • Workspace Sync
  • SwiftMail
  • Cloud Backup
  • Landmark Maps
  • teamdeck
  • Backup & Restore

More About Podio Project Management

Setup

Setting up the app is perhaps the biggest downside of Podio. As it is open-ended and highly customizable, there are just too many ways to make the app work for you. You need to invest a certain amount of time, especially if you’re not very familiar with project management apps in general. But once past the learning curve, the returns in productivity, efficiency, collaboration, and team spirit are well worth it.

Once you’ve registered with Podio, the first thing to do is create an employee network. Each employee’s profile contains details like designation, contact information, social media accounts, etc. The next step is to create a new Workspace, and you can name it after the department it is meant for, like sales or customer service. Workspaces can be private and open to only those invited, or open to everyone in the organization.

Picking An App

Next, you pick an app from the App Market that adds functionality to the workspace. Each workspace can have multiple Apps. For example, the HR department can have Apps like job openings, candidates, interviews, contracts, and so on. For Workspace Sales, the Apps could include companies and materials. After this, you populate the Apps with details. You can then assign responsibilities to each App.

Customizing The App

You can even add files, for instance, a proposal. Minute customization is possible here. The Sales Workspace can have the App Deals. You can link each deal to a company and to the employee who handles the account and also assign it a status, such as negotiating, closed, and more. For instance, if you were in an advertising firm, the App statuses can be changed to pitch, initial presentation, final presentation, and final artwork.

You can personalize each App by clicking the Modify Template button. Here, you just drag and drop the features you want. Further, you can create an automated workflow by choosing Manage Workflows in the Settings menu. To explain, you can notify a specific person from the accounts department to generate an invoice if a deal is closed. After this, you can completely take your mind off invoices. It’s the same for your salesperson. Once he marks a deal as closed, your accounts staff is automatically informed and gets onto the job.

The Bottomline

Podio is flexible, so you can bend it to suit your business’s needs, but with considerable time and effort. But that’s only to set up. Once done, you can manage the nitty-gritty details of project management and communication with speed. It frees your time for more important things like decision making and new ideas.

Device Compatibility

Desktop

Windows

macOS

Mobile

Android

iOS

Tablet

iPad

Podio’s desktop version offers more functionality than its mobile apps. The mobile version allows you to view your Activity Stream in detail, receive notifications, and access as well as share content. On the other hand, the iPad app is very close to full functionality.

Customer Support

Online Ticket Submission Only

In times when you can get live support even when you’re on the moon, one can describe Podio’s customer support response only as slow. Most customer reviews on the net seem to agree. The only way to raise an issue with the company is by submitting a ticket online. On clicking the link, you are taken to a Citrix support page that has toll free technical support numbers for the US, Great Britain, Germany, and Japan. The page also has a chatbox manned by a bot.

Videos, Webinars, And Training

That said, there’s a lot of information out there to help you understand how to get Podio running as smoothly as a Rolls Royce. Most questions on functionality and use can be answered by a simple search on the Podio help center pages. The information is helpfully divided into ‘Getting Started’ and ‘Using Podio’. They contain quick start guides, instructions, and case studies – it’s very comprehensive. There also are webinars, but the last one seems to have been held in 2015.

Podio’s videos are top-notch, and going through them before you start will save you a lot of head-scratching moments. There are 145 videos in all, many depicting customer stories.

Live Demos

Live demos can be booked online by filling up a form.

Community

Podio has a thriving community that’s active and friendly. The community page has more than 7000 posts, which are mostly queries and suggestions. Most questions are responded to with helpful solutions.

Online Security

Podio is a cloud-based SAAS offering with robust security systems in place. All your data is hosted on Amazon Web Services, which have their time-tested systems in place to guard against data theft, outages, and natural calamities. All data transfer between you and the servers take place with HTTPS encryption. What’s more, connections between servers are through secure, encrypted tunnels.

No Podio employee can access your data without consent, and all accounts are private. Further, data backup takes place every night to another offsite spot. To ensure data safety, Citrix’s internal audit team conducts regular security audits.

PROS AND CONS

PROS

  • Incredible customization
  • Top-notch flexibility
  • Used in just about any sector
  • Benefits all company departments
  • Facilitates collaboration and teamwork
  • Customizable workflows
  • 767 ‘Apps’
  • Apt integrations
  • Can import and export via Excel
  • Smart reports
  • Free version is free forever
  • Gantt Chart App
  • Kanban Board App
  • Active community
  • Can invite external users

CONS

  • Initial setup has a steep learning curve
  • Boring UI
  • No gamification
  • Free version allows just five users
  • Top features are paid

CONCLUSION

Podio was designed to make project management faster and more collaborative. It certainly does that, and then some. Moreover, the app eliminates what often becomes the project manager’s primary task – juggling between different tools and apps. Besides, it also puts a stop to the time-consuming maze of emails and attachments.

The app combines sharp project management with intuitive social networking. For instance, getting your client’s inputs during the early stages of a project is priceless. There is incredible customization with a seemingly endless array of functions or Apps. What’s more, you can even create functions of your own without writing code. Also, repetitive and tedious tasks are eliminated, allowing you to automate with machine-like precision.

The biggest drawback, though, is that Podio is hard to decipher initially. Besides, the free version allows only five users. Asana, for example, allows 15. The UI, though smart and straightforward, is very dull. Was it inspired by the cloudy skies of the Danish winter? Also, some of the low-end features of Globiflow, like pie charts, could be extended to the cheaper versions.

To sum up, Podio helps project managers multi-task like a professional juggler. Its collaborative structure encourages transparency, flattens hierarchy, and fosters team recognition. It can even help nurture a very open corporate culture. So, if you’re a business that believes in teamwork, are spread across multiple geographical areas, and cater to diverse sectors, Podio can help you achieve your potential.

Did our review of Podio cover everything you wanted? Please let us know in the comments section.

Check out our list of the best Project Management Software companies

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