Figuring out how to get people to both communicate and get work done is no small feat. Many organizations use email, a team chat app, a server for sharing documents, and maybe a collaborative to-do list app or project management platform, too. Why use all those separate tools when there’s Podio? Podio, owned by Citrix, is an online collaboration app that you customize to match your needs.

With Podio, you create an account and then add functionality by choosing apps from an Apps Market or building your own apps. For example, there are premade apps for HR teams to manage vacancies and recruitment, onboard employees, and so forth, but if these apps weren’t right for your HR department, you could build your own. There are hundreds of apps for all kinds of business uses, from customer relationship management to selling real estate. For its flexibility, versatility, and consolidation of many business practices into one online hub, Podio is an Editors’ Choice winner.

How Much Does Podio Cost?

Podio has four tiers of service: Free, Basic, Plus, and Premium. The differences between these plans come down to a few features, including being able to give some users read-only access and getting interactive sales dashboards. Very large organizations should contact Podio for custom pricing for an enterprise-grade plan.

The Free account lets you invite others to try the service with you, but you don’t get any user management tools. You’re limited to having five employees and five external members across all Workspaces.

The other tiers cost $9, $14, and $24 per person per month, respectively. You get a discount if you pay annually instead. The prices are then $86.40, $134.40, and $230.40 per person per year.

Podio sample spaceBasecamp is another flexible space where team members can both communicate and get work done together, yet it charges a flat $99 per month for unlimited users.

Another work management platform designed more for enterprises than small businesses, called Workfront, costs around $30 per person per month, though the exact cost depends on the number of users in different role types.

A few project management apps, share some similarities with Podio in that you can use them to manage not only projects but also communicate and track non-project work. Celoxis is one example. It costs $25 per person per month to use in the cloud, or if you’re willing to host it, $450 per person (flat rate).

Podio customizeAndroid apps and iPhone apps for people who need to keep up with whatever is happening at work when they’re on the go.

You can create a Podio account with a work email address and password, or you can authenticate using Microsoft, Google, or Sharefile. The site asks for other information, too, including the name of your organization, its size, and what type of business it is.

The person who sets up the account, or any administrator, then creates Workspaces. For example, you might have a Workspace for HR, Legal, Finance, Sales, and other teams or departments in your organization. You might also choose to make Workspaces for projects, clients, or whatever else makes sense for your business. When you start inviting people to join the account, you add them to the appropriate Workspaces for their role.

When you navigate to a Workspace, you land on a kind of dashboard for it with tiles showing different sets of information. For example, you might want to see a list of all tasks assigned to the HR team if you’re in the HR Workspace, as well as a summary of what’s coming up on the calendar, and a list of recent comments. You can rearrange these tiles or get rid of the ones you don’t want. 

When you invite someone to join a Workspace, you must choose a role for them in that Workspace, the options being Workspace admin, Regular member, or if you have a Plus or Premium account, a Light member. Light members cannot edit, add, or delete apps, or invite other members to the Workspace.

By default, every Workspace starts out looking like a very bare-bones social network. You can post a message to a feed for all to see, upload a file, share a link, make a quick poll, and comment on other people’s posts. People can direct-message one another and view the profiles of people in their Workspace to see their title, contact information, and so forth.

Everything described so far is in your account by default, which is not much. From there, you add whatever apps you need by either choosing them from the Apps Market or building your own. You can also customize and change apps that you install from the Market. The apps are really what make the service the full-scale workplace hub that it is.

Podio HR examplethe Podio API to set up custom integrations.

As easy as Podio is to set up and customize, an administrator or business decision-maker could sink a lot of time into trying to get Podio just right, looking for the right balance between having too many apps and features versus too few. Igloo, which is more of a company intranet, is the complete opposite. Within the first five minutes of setting up an Igloo account, I felt like I had figured out at least 80 percent of the platform. If speed is what you need, Igloo gets it done. The layout makes sense. Navigating the site is a piece of cake. It’s not the slickest site I’ve ever seen, but it’s functional, simple, and clear. That said, Podio is the better tool in the long run if you’re committed to making one central hub for everything your business does.

Podio app marketZapier and IFTTT.

Another wonderful feature in Podio is webforms. Webforms are forms you create and host on a web page that people fill out so that you can collect their responses. Webforms have a wide variety of uses, from collecting feedback from customers to giving new potential clients a way to request a meeting or information about your company. You can set up a web form such that responses feed back into Podio, where you collect and work with them however you choose. 

Contact management is another area where Podio does well. Podio lets you create a central contact management database and use it across Workspaces.

Podio does have a premade app called Timesheets for tracking employee time spent on various tasks. If you want an option to record time on a task in the moment, there’s a premade app called Project Management by TimeCamp that integrates with the time-tracking app TimeCamp; this app lets you run a timer while you work.

Another area that Podio comes up a bit short is proofing and approvals. There is an app for Design Approvals that allows designers to submit compositions to managers or other approvers and track the process, but I haven’t seen any markup tools that make it easier to draw on PDFs and images while discussing them. The project management app ProofHub is much better for this type of work, and so is  Volerro.

A Completely Customizable Workplace Hub

Podio’s flexibility and versatility make it a fantastic tool for businesses that want to be able to pick and choose, or build, the functionality they need in an online workplace hub. Considering all the customization it offers, it’s also surprisingly easy to use. Podio supports everything from project management to in-office chat to employee praise and recognition. It’s not quite out-of-the-box ready, but organizations looking to centralize their work management and communication into one non-email tool can thrive with Podio, an Editors’ Choice winner. 

January 20, 2021
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