Before we begin, let’s get the basics out of the way: Podio is huge. It’s hard to know where to begin.
When you sign up, you’ll be asked what you intend to use the software for. I chose project management, but the versatility of the product means you can use it for a wide range of business processes, from recruitment to CRM and beyond.
When I logged into Podio, I was instantly struck by its resemblance to Facebook, at least in terms of the UI. The whole thing looks strikingly familiar. New users have their account details and workspaces in the left column, an activity stream running down the centre of the page, and the right column displays people and tasks. The interface looks great, providing easy access to email, calendars, contacts and tasks along a toolbar at the top of the page.
You can post messages in the activity stream. Again, this is very much like a social networking site. Users can choose which workspace to send the message to, and people can comment and ‘like’ the message. Importantly, you can also create tasks associated with the message – a really nice feature.
Once you’re set up, you can create different workspaces to manage different aspects of your business. Co-workers can be added to the Employee Network and you can add them to specific workspaces. You are also granted unlimited external members who can collaborate in your workspaces.
As you begin to dig deeper into the software you start realise the enormous scope that Podio offers. Whilst the sheer number of options may be a little daunting at first, the possibilities for developing the tool to fit your own business needs seem endless.
Workspaces in Podio
In Podio, you can create different workspaces to organise different areas of your business. Each workspace is facilitated by different apps which can be chosen and added in a click from Podio’s own app market. You can edit existing apps or create your own as well. This is where the service really begins to open up vast possibilities.
Considering all the apps, it’s understandable that Podio asked what I intended to use the software for when I signed in. By choosing project management, they set up a simple project management workspace containing a number of apps to get started with. The simple project management workspace came with an activity stream for the workspace, a projects app to contain each different project, a deliverables app to organise the projects, and a meetings app.
I tried setting up a recruiting workspace by creating a blank workspace and downloading a recruitment pack from the app market. Again this space was provided with an activity stream and the pack provided a job opening app to show the details of the job you are recruiting for, candidates app for your applicants, interviews app to organise and document the interview process, a standard contracts app, an on-boarding app and a recruiting channels app.
Each app is simple and effective at managing the specific needs of your workspace. Also, each one is fully editable, so you can streamline it or beef it up to your liking. If the app is insufficient, you can add more functionality or remove it and replace it with another more suitable app from the market.
More on the App Market
When you are building your workspaces, the app market offers a huge variety of options for how the workspace functions. The app store is also visible on the Podio website without a login. It’s worth taking a look just to get an idea of the massive scope Podio offers. You can get individual apps to slot in alongside existing ones or buy apps in packs. Each app is free and users can rate apps, add comments and post questions if they need more advice.
Creating or editing apps is performed using a drag and drop app builder. You add building blocks to edit the structure of your app. These are essentially different fields such as text fields, contacts, date and even Google Maps. Most fields can include an explanatory text for users to see when they are completing the fields and each has different functions. For example, the time field can be used to add items to a calendar.
You can set the appearance of the app and how it interacts with your activity stream, create automatic task settings to apply whenever it is used and set how colleagues can interact with the app.
Podio seems ideal for larger organisations that have different working practices throughout and the pricing structure seems geared towards that, whilst still being an attraction for smaller businesses. Organisations can sign up for free and get up to 5 employees and 5 external members without having to upgrade to a premium package. The price then rises to $8 per additional user per month.
Once you take on the premium package, you are given unlimited external members, along with unlimited space and additional phone support, amongst some other features, including access to reports and team demonstrations.
There was no way I could have covered Podio’s enormous feature set in one review. Its flexibility and almost infinite customisation options makes it a truly impressive cloud application. Factor in the fact that small businesses with 5 or less employees can use Podio for nothing, and you can soon see why I enjoyed it so much.
Podio has a big future. It has recently been acquired by Citrix Systems and I wouldn’t be surprised if it began to dominate the market for business tools in the cloud. The familiar layout is a great move and inspires interactivity, discussion and teamwork: everything you need from a business management app.
If you’ve outgrown the tool you’re using, take a look at Podio. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where this software wouldn’t excel.
About the AuthorClaire Broadley is a technical author and SEO copywriter. She reviews cloud applications and SaaS products for Rated Cloud.
View Author Profile