— n (often followed by on, with, etc.)
1. the act of working with another or others on a joint project
2. something created by working jointly with another or others
This is becoming increasingly important as companies and organizations find themselves in situations where their team members are located in different places across the globe. Team members are not able to turn around in their chairs to talk to one another. Because of this, there is a major need for tools and services that provide an opportunity for these distributed teams to easily communicate without having to travel to the office to physically meet with one another.
Here at TecFac, our team spans across the country from the east coast to the west coast with our headquarters in Rockville, MD. We were using emails, phone calls and web meetings to maintain our communication. This was becoming very cumbersome and hard to keep up with so we decided that we needed a tool where we will be able to effectively communicate with each other on a real time basis and then be able to quickly reference that information when needed.
Of all the available collaboration services out there, we decided to use Podio. Podio is easy to learn, quick to adapt to, and gives us exactly what we needed. Here are a few of the features in Podio that has helped us communicate better and decrease the amount of email that we send.
1. Application Integration
Podio integrates with several applications that extends its capabilities such as GoToMeeting, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Evernote, and Microsoft Exchange. We use GoToMeeting on a daily basis for both our internal meetings as well as meetings with our clients. Being able to integrate GoToMeeting with Podio has made it easier to not only schedule meetings, but also start those meetings and update the meeting with notes, action items, etc. since everything is in one location.
Workspaces are used to organize our work and collaborate with specific groups of people. We can invite our external clients to workspaces we’ve created for them that will allow us to provide them with updates on projects we are working on, manage tasks, share files, and much more. Workspaces can also be used internally for different departments, teams, projects, etc.
3. Activity Stream
The activity stream is like your Facebook wall or your LinkedIn homepage where you can see all the updates from your teammates including their status posts, uploaded files, task updates, meetings, etc. We use the activity stream to share what our goals and activities are for the day so that at any given time, anyone can see if we are available to help with a project. Since we are not able to see each other regularly, this is our way of communicating our daily plans. We also use the activity stream to share information that is important or beneficial to the team. We can comment on these activities, create tasks from them or just simply show our approval/agreement of them by “liking” the posts.
4. Document Storage
In the past, we would either use Dropbox or email files to one another. With Podio, we can post a file to a task, project, or deliverable and everyone can have access to that file at any time. If the file is updated, Podio retains the previous versions and makes them accessible to us.
5. Task Management
As a project manager, creating, assigning and managing tasks is a key part of my day to day activities. I am able to quickly create tasks from anywhere in Podio and assign those tasks to one or more of my teammates or clients. We can comment on the tasks as we are working on them and when done, mark them as completed. I am notified of any updates to the tasks so that I am always aware of what is being accomplished.
There are many applications that allow you to customize Podio to work the way it needs to for your business. The applications are found in the App Market and can be installed individually or as part of a package. The packages are grouped either as functional or industry-based such as Event Management, Marketing, Sales & CRM, Consultancy, Engineering or Real Estate. The Project Management package is key to my role. I am able to track all our projects and the deliverables and tasks associated with those projects with a dashboard that at a glance shows me the status of those projects or deliverables.
7. Chat (with audio and video)
Many times throughout the course of the day, we may have a quick question or piece of information to share with each other. With Podio chat, we can send messages and receive immediate responses. If we need to escalate our chat to a phone call, we can do so by integrating audio and can also incorporate video as well. The chat works with all Podio users, internal to the organization or external clients.
8. Team Availability
We can quickly see if our teammates are available for us to communicate with. If we need to send a message or need feedback on items that have been posted to the activity stream, we can look to see who is available and reach out to them for what we need. The availability is indicated in the bottom right corner of the profile pictures. A green dot means they are active and available, a yellow dot means that they are idle (may be available but have stepped away from Podio for a short while), and no indicators means that they are not available. It also shows when last the person was logged in to Podio.
9. Shared Calendar
We used the calendar to add meetings that we are a part of and can invite others to those meetings as needed. We also have the ability to add our vacations or other time off to the calendar. This is another way for use to know when our teammates are not available.
Podio notifies us in several ways when activities are taking place. We can either:
a. Receive emails as the activity takes place
b. If viewing other web sites other than Podio, there is a notification icon in the upper right corner that updates as activities take place
c. The mobile app sends push notifications to your device of those activities. The mobile app is like taking our office wherever we go. We can post statuses, comment on other activities, update tasks, view documents/pictures, chat using audio or video, etc. We are constantly in touch with all that is taking place.
With the features described above, we have greatly improved our internal communication and our communication with our clients. Projects are continuously moving forward, decisions are quickly being made and everything is documented for us to always refer to. Podio has positively changed our daily operations!
Team Collaboration Using Podio