How we use Podio and why we'd be lost without it!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that we are long-term champions of Podio.

At Oval, we’ve been using it for almost seven years, and couldn’t be without it!

So, we thought it would be a nice idea to back up our claims, justify our singing-its-praises, and maybe give you some ideas of how you can use a collaboration platform, in ways that perhaps you hadn’t thought of before. A real life, this-is-how-we-do-it case study.

WhyWeLovePodio.jpg

 

PROJECTS

We use Podio for projects before they even become projects. From initial enquiry, right up until practical completion, every stage is tracked. From collating proposal material, creating/tracking sprints for development, and invoicing status to task allocation, CRM, and associated file storage. We communicate on projects and their stages within the relevant comment stream, ridding ourselves of hideously long email trails. Ditto with documentation; we attach it all to the project item. In both these last two cases, the result is the knowledge that we are looking at comments in the order in which they were received, and the latest version of documentation.

This is particularly key for those projects where documents are constantly being updated; nobody wants to work off something which they then realise – far too late – has been superseded!!

CRM

Because Podio offers you the ability to build apps, and link them together via relationship fields if you want to, you can create a CRM system that works exactly as you need it to. In our case, we hold all information in one app, and use relationship fields to link to relevant projects/enquiries if appropriate. There’s a super simple export function if you want to pull out data for manipulation (in Excel, for example), and an email address associated with each record (enabling you to ‘email to item’).

SOCIAL

Whether it’s collating menu choices from the team for the Christmas party, or a ridiculous meme that we have to share, Podio is the quickest way to get in front of everyone. We have workspaces for projects and areas of work, but we also have one that’s dedicated to hanging out – virtually – with our teammates. We share recipes and favourite films, and we also use it as a place to high-five each other if someone has achieved something amazing! With a team that’s spread across multiple locations, it’s a simple way to stay in touch.

DOCUMENT SHARING

Arguably, this could be absorbed into any of the previous points, but it is such a standout feature for us, that we think it deserves its own mention. There is nothing worse – certainly as an organiser, facilitator, or project manager – than sending out a document for review by others, to then be on the receiving end of several, distinct, new versions. Are you looking at the latest version? Have you incorporated all changes? How many people have or have not had a chance to review it yet? Who made these changes again??!!
The wonder of Podio – particularly when used in conjunction with a service such as GoogleDocs, which updates and saves in progress – is the ability to track every single ‘movement’. So that covers when an attachment/document was last added or updated, and who instigated it; the life of that attachment is documented forever.

CLIENT SUPPORT + HELPDESK

We interact with clients via Podio in a variety of ways, but primarily using workspaces or helpdesk forms.

Workspaces: occasionally, we will create a specific project workspace within Oval’s Podio organisation set-up, and give access to external members, ie the client. This enables us to conduct conversations about timelines, features, sprints etc within Podio directly, rather than via email (which can result in a full-to-bursting inbox, and lack of clarity over who said what and when). It also means that we can store project-specific attachments, against the relevant items in the relevant apps, and everyone knows they’re viewing the most up-to-date information.

Helpdesk: For those projects which require support by both clients and other end-users, we create helpdesk apps within workspaces. By creating a Podio webform with its own URL, users can get in touch with us outlining their details, with the form then creating an item within the relevant app. This is perfect for giving all members of the development team visibility of issues, ensuring we can respond to queries as quickly as possible, and reducing ‘silo-ing’.

So, having read a little about how we use Podio, and you think you’d like to explore the idea of a collaboration system (while we’ve mentioned Podio, we also have experience in other, similar platforms), then just give us a shout for a totally-informal-with-no-obligation chat; we’re here to help!

Card layout for agile project management

Not every Podio update is really big news, but with the recently released card layout, I believe, we have something new and noteworthy at our disposal.

Essentially, Podio card layout has ‘acquired’ much more of the versatility of a dedicated kanban-influenced application (like Trello, for example). Furthermore, Podio's powerful view configuration and filtering tools make for a significant level of flexibility, when combined with the new changes.

This is important, as it has a positive and material effect on one's ability to manage agile projects in Podio, with the support of easy-to-use visual tools.

 Card layout features drag and drop, configurable field display and category colours.

Card layout features drag and drop, configurable field display and category colours.

Although card layout has existed in Podio for a while, it was hamstrung by a limited field display, showing only the first form field on the card, and it also had no colour coding. It’s now a significantly better beast!

Here are some example scenarios describing how it can be used to organise projects. These examples refer to - but are not limited to - the kinds of 'Features' or 'Product Backlog' apps that are typically used to track agile projects.

Organising sprints

Organise features into sprints, by dragging and dropping them into sprint columns. This setup requires a Features app with a category or relationship field for sprints.

Suggested configuration...

  • Columns: Sprint Name/Number
  • Rows: Optional/as required

Tracking status

Track and set the development status by viewing, dragging and dropping features into status columns. This setup requires a Features app with a 'Status' field (eg ‘Not started’, ‘In progress’, ‘On hold’, ‘Complete’); preferably colour coded.

Suggested configuration...

  • Columns: Status
  • Rows: Optional, but can work well with Project Phase (‘Phase 1’; ‘Phase 2’)

Resource allocation

Sharing out work amongst the team by dragging/dropping features into columns. This setup requires a Features app with a 'Lead Developer' field (contact or relationship field).

Suggested configuration...

  • Columns: Lead Developer
  • Rows: Effort Estimate (with Fibonacci sequence; useful visual check, to ensure features are shared by size).

No doubt you can think of plenty more useful scenarios, and the usefulness of card layout is not, of course, limited to product development or project management.

Here are some other important tips…

  1. Hit the F key in card layout. There's a much cleaner feel in full-screen layout.
  2. Use the screwdriver/wrench icon at the top of the view to tweak the columns.
  3. Setting a field to separate the rows adds a useful layer - eg status across the top, project phase or developer as the row.
  4. Save your own views or share them with the team.
  5. If you’re an admin, to configure which fields actually display on your cards, use the wrench icon in the left-hand panel.

Oval’s Podio maps tool improved and relaunched as ‘Landmark for Podio’

aerialcity_smaller.jpg

We're delighted to announce that our hugely popular Podio mapping tool has been relaunched in a bigger, better, and more useful form than ever before.

We have retained the ability to use the platform cost-free, for the basic – but supremely useful – mapping functionality offered previously.

In addition, we are now offering a competitively priced premium account that allows user access to a wide range of exciting new features, including:

  • Sharing maps with other users
  • Choice of a range of themes and transitions
  • Increased plotting capability, of up to 10 000 items
  • Ability to embed maps within your own website
  • Save maps

As you would expect, the user experience is both elegant and user-friendly. The existing website for the tool has been retired, and you can now find it at https://landmarkmaps.io/

As before, users are able to log in with their Podio account, negating the need for yet another set of credentials. Please take a look around; we would love to hear your feedback!