I have recently taken on the role of Media Team Leader at my church. One of the first things I wanted to do was establish a team and find a platform upon which we could share ideas and inspiration, as well as collaborate on upcoming tasks. We quickly registered a domain and installed Google Apps, but fairly early on we found that the system was lacking. Google Apps is a fantastic suite and is highly adaptable, particularly given the number of 3rd-party MarketPlace Apps available. However something was stopping the creativity of the newly-formed media team from being unleashed. I wanted to find something more suitable to the dynamic needs of my team.
According to their website Podio is used by the likes of Subway, Twitter, BMW and the BBC… which immediately caught my attention!
The user interface owes much of it’s styling to Facebook, with a familiar blue menu bar and three column page layout with a news feed to keep you up to date with the most recent activity. This is where the similarities end and Podio begins to shine as a blend of intranet, social network and CRM.
Podio uses spaces and apps: All users belong to an ‘employee network’, and you then create spaces as appropriate and install different apps into those spaces depending on what you want to achieve. At first I installed one of the many App Bundles (a selection of Apps that complement each other for a given task). Bundles range from “Project Collaboration”, a set of generic and useful application to help you get up and running to “Scientific Research”, a user-generated pack useful for labs who want to keep track of experiments, inventories and funding. Apps are completely customizable, and you can even build your own and share it with others through the App store. I initially just created one space for the media team, installed a simple App bundle, created a few bits of content to spark discussion and invited the media team members to join.
Podio allows us to do everything we need. We have been using it since October, and have found it is flexible enough to expand as necessary.
A number of items that started out as projects within the Media Team space have grown big enough to merit their own space. Users are sharing relevant blog posts, posting screenshots of their design work, and best of all – they are able to contribute easily in a workspace that is as dynamic as they are. Users can even contribute on-the-go using the apps for iOS and Android. I haven’t tried the Android app yet, but the iOS app is great.
The free version of Podio allows 10 users with the same domain (ie, @yourdomain.something) and 10 external users (users who don’t have an @yourorganisation email). After that, prices start at $8/employee/month for “Premium” administration and $1/employee/month for basic administration rights. Aside from a limited user allowance, the only downside of the free version is the 1GB of online storage, though this can easily be dealt with using a tool like DropBox.
Podio can be as big or as small as you need it to be for your organisation and handles pretty much anything you can throw at it with grace and style. I am so impressed with Podio that I have helped to implement it as an employee intranet for a Coventry-based charity where I am a trustee, and I even use it for a radio show I have just started on a local community radio station. It’s interesting seeing how Podio adapts to different environments: The charity uses spaces to coordinate various projects, while the radio show has a “Segment Ideas Bin” app, a “Song Database” app, and an app to plan future shows.
Other tools do exist to help you work collaboratively – if you use something else (Springpad, Evernote, etc.) then what do you like about them? How do you use them? Are you uncertain how something like this would be useful? Or are you an avid fan of online productivity tools? Throw a comment below… let’s help each other raise our game.