VP Apps at Podio, driving the adoption of our platform for a new way to work. I've worked at cloud-startup Appirio, SAP, Intuit, an analytics startup, and McKinsey & Company. I studied economics at Williams College and have an MBA from Stanford.
101 Questions About Using Podio for Project Management29.03.12 Posted in Best Practices by Ryan Nichols
One of the most common ways people use Podio’s work platform is to manage projects. So we gathered several hundred organizations who are at all different stages of using Podio for project management, and invited them to a “Project Management for Pros” webinar, to swap tips, tricks and best practices.
The response was overwhelming. We had to upgrade our GoToWebinar account to handle all the attendees, and could barely keep up with all of the questions and comments coming in. We promised to share a recording of the webinar, and respond to every last question. So here goes!
First, the webinar itself. Our goals were pretty simple. We wanted to walk through 5 simple steps to successfully managing projects on Podio. We wanted you to see best practice Podio project management in action, with lots of hands-on demos. We wanted you to learn from how other leading organizations are using Podio, with concrete case studies. And most importantly, we wanted to connect you with other project management pros in our project management community! Here’s a recording, it’s about 45 minutes long:
Now, on to your questions. We had over 100 questions come in during and after the webinar, ranging from the strategic to the tactical, from questions about process to questions about technology, from the feature request to the bug report.
We want to respond to everyone: We’ll start with some more extensive answers to the most common topics where people had questions, and then dive into shorter answers to some of the more specific questions that came in. We’ll respond to the individual questions directly, in Podio (or email, if necessary!). Let’s jump right in!
What’s the best way to work with my clients in Podio?
We spent a bit of time on the webinar talking about the benefits of inviting your clients into a workspace to collaborate with your team, and this was the #1 area where people had questions. The main question: should I create a new workspace for every client?
Usually, the answer is yes– since our permission model is based on workspaces, we recommend creating client-specific workspaces as the most effective way to handle client-specific collaboration. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Workspaces can be tailored to fit each client. You can add widgets to your workspace with your logo, a welcome note, and some instructions. Workspaces can be used to manage multiple projects– you can use a workspace to manage your entire relationship.
- Workspaces can be reused : Click the wrench next to a workspace name, and click “Share in App Market.” Just share it privately, and then go to your private app market anytime you want to create a new client workspace using your “App Pack” template.
- You can make your clients “light” users to keep them from modifying your workspace or editing someone else’s items. More on that here. NB: this is a premium feature.
- Podio works well with lots of workspaces! Your project team can be part of dozens of different workspaces without any problems– these will all be aggregated into their global stream, inbox, and task list.
We spend a lot of time at Podio thinking about how to make sharing information across workspaces more flexible, so please let us know in the community how client workspaces are working for you, and what we could do to make them even better!
How do I decide if something should share a workspace or not?
There’s no simple answer to this one. Podio controls security at the workspace level, so you need to have things in the same workspace if you’re going to connect them together. But everyone can see everything in a workspace. You need to decide which is more important for your users and your use case.
When am I going to have ____ feature?
We heard a ton of great feature requests today! While we don’t share our product roadmap publicly, we’re releasing new features every 2 weeks and are eager for your input. We wanted to assure you we love your ideas for improved timeline views/Gantt charts, more flexibility to work with apps across workspaces, more flexible sharing, and more automation and workflow!
How do I work in a timeline view, like a Gantt Chart?
To view projects or deliverables on a timeline view, click on the “Layout” icon when looking at all the entries in your app. Simply select “Card Layout” or “Calendar Layout” to view your projects or deliverables either as cards on the different progress statuses or in a calendar format. You can read more on the Podio Card Layout here. If you want to view by day/week/month, or view as a traditional Gantt chart, then every workspace also has an iCal feed, that can be viewed in a number of 3rd party calendar and timeline tools. One of our partners, BendixKiel, also developed a 3rd party GANTT for Podio – you can find it here:
Your calendar (found by clicking ‘Calendar’ in the blue bar at the top of Podio) shows you every app item that has a date field, from all the spaces you are a member of. Also, all of your tasks with due dates are shown in your calendar, and workspaces have their own calendar view. We’re working on better support for time zones, that’s a known issue for us, and an ironic limitation given the # of time zones we work across ourselves!
Can I integrate Podio with ______?
- Outlook Calendar: Yes, you can add your Podio calendar to Outlook… here are instructions on how!
- Google Apps: Podio offers several areas of integration with Google Apps. Google Docs can be used wherever you can add a file in Podio. Google Mail can be used to turn emails into tasks (and use all our other email integration features). Google contacts can be imported, and Google Calendar can show one or more Podio calendars. We’re looking at tasks– the Google task model is significantly different than Podio’s, so this will be complex.
- Cloud-based file management / backup services: In addition to our integration with Google Docs, Podio is integrated with Box. And this is an area of active development, so stay tuned for more on this front!
- Migrating from MS Project and other legacy project management apps: We’ve had clients successfully migrate to Podio from a variety of legacy applications using our powerful Excel importer. This can sometimes be tricky– we’d be happy to introduce you to one of our trusted partners to give you a helping hand.
- Time tracking apps: This came up a couple of times in your questions, and we appreciate the feedback! We hadn’t been looking at these types of integrations, but will now take a look….
- Other Podio Apps: It’s powerful to use Podio project management in conjunction with other Podio apps (like our Lead Management app pack). You can do this by adding other apps to your workspace, and then adding related fields to common objects (e.g., customers). Here’s a video on how. Now, everything is connected across your business! We’re looking at making this even more flexible across workspaces, but this requires a fundamental change to how workspaces function, so we want to make sure that we do this correctly!
How do I get involved? How do I continue the conversation?
Click here to request access to the Podio Project Management Community! This is great space to talk about how you’re doing project management in Podio, and what we could be doing to make it even easier. It’s also a great place to meet other experts in project management, some of whom are available to do some consulting. And sometimes, we even give our community members a sneak peek into what we have in development!
And that’s not all, these questions were just the tip of the iceberg!
Now that we’ve tackled the most common questions, here’s our best attempt to answer ALL of the rest (and in the process, create Podio’s longest ever blog post!). And if you didn’t get your specific question answered (or if you’ve thought of a new one), add it to the comments. Or even better, let’s continue the conversation in our project management community!
Q: Is there a way how to transfer an App from one workspace to another, including all data?
The app structure can be shared either via cloning it to another workspace or via sharing it to the (private) Podio App Market. App content can only be moved from one app to another via Excel export / import.
Q: Is the app creation flexible enough to create forms that can be automatically filled in with information already present in the project, such as contact info?
We offer search-as-you-type for all app reference and contact fields, but do not offer any sort of auto-fill at the moment.
Q: In testing Podio for our team, people got confused about where to put documents. Is there a way to limit the apps so that documents can only be uploaded to the files app rather than attached to comments, etc?
Our customers typically use the files on an app item to represent the “official” version of a document, often added by the person responsible for that item. Files added as comments are often contributed by others, for consideration or input. There’s no way to turn off the ability to add files in the comments.
Q: Can you talk about permissions? We have outside consultants that we would want to see projects, but not necessarily the financials. Are open and private the only permission options?
Workspaces are the best way to control who sees what. When you upgrade Podio, you’ll also be able to designate some users as “light” users, who are unable to change the structure of a workspace or edit/delete items created by others.
Q: The division I work for is part of a larger company with multiple federal contracts that have security standards. but no PM system! Can you please direct me to a link that talks about security of information on Podio?
Our privacy & security page should get you started, but probably best to direct specific questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Will it be possible to schedule excel exports automatically (would be a good way to communicate between workspaces)?
Podio has a rich and open API that would be better used for these sort of automations. You can learn more about it at developers.podio.com.
Q: How do you delete members that are no longer with the project?
Here’s how to remove members from a workspace.
Q: I was not able to create a field that shows a single date. It seems to be always a start and end date. Do we have an alternative for doing it?
Rather than have two different field types for dates vs. date ranges, we allow all dates to have a start and an end. If you want, just leave the end date blank!
Q: Can the status be updated depending on how many tasks / deliverables are completed?
Here’s how to create a report that summarizes the status of your deliverables, and display a reporting widget on the sidebar of your app or workspace.
Q: I use the “ideas” app. Can these “ideas” be automatically transformed into “projects” if they are approved?
Here’s how to relate ideas to projects using the app reference field. Unfortunately, you can’t do any sort of automatic transformation from one to another.
Q: I find the Activity Stream too noisy..every edit and config change to the Workspace. How can I configure this?
You can click on the “X” in the upper right corner of an activity in the stream to hide posts from that app or from that workspace.
Q: Can you have multiple owners?
Yes! Contact and App Reference fields in Podio are very flexible, and can contain multiple entries.
Q: Is there a way to connect a meeting agenda to all projects in a workspace? If you create a staff meeting app people tend to update information in the staff meeting app rather than in the project.
When you create the meeting, you can relate it to as many different projects as you’d like. Unfortunately, there’s no way to automate this.
Q: Is it possible to delete previous activity (in the activity feed)?
You can delete your own activity from the activity feed using the “X” in the upper right hand corner of the update. Also you can set which events are shown in the
Q: When we modify an existing app, how can we update the existing information for that new format?
When you modify an exisiting app, your new field will automatically be added to all your old items, ready for your to update (manually, or via excel import). If you remove a field, you will still have access to your old data.
Q: What about collaborative drafting of project documents or reports? Do you have this functionality?
Long text fields can be used for collaborative editing, and can be strung together to represent the different components of a report. Podio has a deep integration with Google Docs, which offers more advanced in-document collaboration, like simultaneous editing and contextual commenting.
Q: Can projects be nested?
Yes, just add an app reference field and check the box next to projects.
Q: Is there a way to auto-subscribe new workspace members to all apps in the workspace?
A: Best practice is to @ mention folks to draw their attention to the new app– they’ll also see it in their feed & daily digest. You can’t auto-subscribe them– everyone manages their own subscriptions.
Q: How do I automatically assign a task to a specific person when an item is created?
Go to “Modify App” and expand the “Tasks” area at the bottom. You can enter multiple tasks there, and assign them to specific people.
Q: Can you explain the difference between employees and external member and how they are distinguished. For example an outside designer you use for a specific project but is not a member of your core team.
Employees are people who share an email domain. You can invite colleagues from any email domain into a specific workspace, but your employee network is reserved for employees.
Q: How do I get repeating items on my personal Podio calendar?
Here’s how to manage repeating tasks, and how to get them on your calendar.
Q: Is there a way to connect the status of a deliverable to the related timesheets?
Here’s how to add calculated fields to your app, using a timesheet example. Calculated fields can be used to show numbers, not status categories or a progress bar.
Q: How do I set up Reminders and Alerts starting a week before a deliverable deadline?
You’d do this by creating a task associated with that deliverable, and setting a reminder on that task. Here’s more on task reminders.
Q: Can you add items to your personal calendar without adding something in an app? Like a meeting or appointment?
Apps & tasks show up on your calendar. I’d suggest adding a meetings app to your workspace and use that to get meetings to your calendar!
Q: Are you able to access the apps you create on the mobile versions of Podio?
Yes! You have the full access to your apps on our iPhone app– here’s an example of that in action, and instructions on how to change how you work with apps on your iPhone. Our Android app also allows you to view app items from your stream or inbox (but not edit apps or view app overviews)
Q: Is it possible to temporarily adjust the project app to hide/disable features, allow team to get comfortable with participation, and then turn back on the additional features without losing the history of projects already underway?
You can absolutely add fields to your project app as you go, starting simple and then adding complexity as people get used to the tool. But you can’t hide an existing field without deleting it.
Q: How can we get a quick overview about our project portfoio with stauses and budget information?
Here’s how to create a report that summarizes the status of your project portfolio, and display a reporting widget on the sidebar of your app or workspace.
Q: Does the activity stream have to report on every new item created? If deleting something from the activity stream does it delete in the app?
Yes! Go to “Modify App,” and expand “Advanced Settings” at the bottom of your screen. Check the box next to “Do not add new items to stream.” In any case, deleting an activity feed does not delete the underlying app.
Q: What is your pricing?
Podio is free for up to 5 employees and 5 external users. Larger teams pay $8 / user / month to use our apps and workspaces. Every company has access to a free “employee network” for status updates, files, and tasks. And premium accounts can add an unlimited number of customers and partners to their workspaces, for free!