Since the explosion of cloud computing, small businesses are now turning to Internet-based software to help collaborate internet processes and help with the daily grind of tasks, meetings and memos. Internet-based software is much more appealing to businesses as it avoids the needs for expensive software licence fees and complicated computer systems. Internet-based systems also make the process of working from home a far easier and much more cost-effective solution for businesses.
I recently looked at Pivotal Tracker and yaM, two internet-based utilities that can help businesses collaborate easier (in the case of Pivotal Tracker) or organize meetings easier (in the case of yaM). But, what happens if you want to collaborate every aspect of your business, yet want to avoid spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an ERM system such as SAP?
Well, this is where Podio comes in, which is the brainchild of Danish developers Anders Pollas, Jon Froda and Andreas Haugstrup Pedersen. It promises to be not only a internal social network for businesses but allows you to shape the actual way you work, without any kind of dependency on IT or vast technical knowledge. Podio is highly customizable as there is a vast app store packed full of useful (and free) add-ons.
Could this be the software answer that small businesses have been waiting for? Let’s find out…
Podio is designed to be used as a social intranet within small businesses, helping people to collaborate and exchange ideas a lot easier. However, its abilities do not stop there. According to their website, you can use it for project management, customer relationship management (CRM), recruiting and much more.
Podio’s price structure is extremely attractive for small businesses. The basic plan, which allows unlimited spaces, apps and storage and which supports up to 10 users is absolutely free, and an additional user is priced at $4 per month. Signing up is very straightforward (all you need to provide is your company name and e-mail address!) and once you are done and dusted you are greeted with Podio’s homepage, known as your activity stream, which looks uncannily like Facebook did a few years back!
Running along the top of the page, you have quick and easy access to your message inbox, contacts, calendar and tasks, which we’ll look at later in a bit more detail!
With Podio, you have not only got the choice between the built-in features of the application, but you have also got a wide range of extensions (known as apps) which can enhance your workflow and, most importantly, are all completely free!
Think of spaces as your own personal workspace, with a few extra features thrown in for good measure. You can create a space for an individual project or task then you can invite certain team members to take part in that project, allowing them to exchange ideas and files freely. Only people who have been invited to the space can see its content. To create a space in Podio, simply click on Create a space on the left-hand side, give it a name and start working!
On your space you can share links to other websites, files (up to 100 MB) and even questions (with possible answers). You can assign tasks to each project, which appear on the right-hand side of your space and allow you keep an easier track on your project’s progress.
Built-In Calendar and Email System
Podio has an in-built calendar and e-mail system which can help avoid clogging up inboxes with loads of external mail or having to endlessly update calendars with tasks. The e-mail system allows you to communicate between all team members currently signed up to Podio easily and you can even send files between members with it.
Podio’s calendar automatically pools all your projects and integrates every single task on all the projects you are working on straight into the calendar. You can also add your Podio calendar to your own calendar program (e.g. iCal or Microsoft Outlook), ensuring total synchronisation across all programs used in your business.
One of the nicest features about Podio (some would argue the nicest feature) is the ability to extend your workspace with a wide range of built-in applications. Podio has a built-in app store with loads of applications sorted by category that will help you with every single internal process.
The app store is startling owing to the sheer range of applications available and seeing as all the applications are free, this is very appealing to a small business with a limited IT budget. To help you choose, Podio have very helpfully gathered certain applications together in certain categories (for example business development), which can be downloaded together as a pack.
If you don’t find a fitting application on the App Store (which is a tall order to say the least), Podio will even let you create one to add to your space. You don’t need any technical knowledge, as the built-in App Builder is extremely to use. You simply drag and drop the required elements and Podio does the rest!
Podio is an absolutely essential tool for any small business looking to improve their internal communications and collaborate their workflows. It features such a wide range of built-in features and can be tailored to suit almost any business requirement, making it suitable for all the different business department and is also priced extremely attractively towards small businesses. The basic version is free for up to 10 users, with each extra user costing only $4 per month and the wide, free range of applications is just the icing on the cake.
However, don’t think that Podio is limited to small businesses. Its sheer range of features makes it useful in any situation and is a vital, versatile and price-effective solution for better internal business collaboration.
An online work platform for small businesses with a range of additional application available.9
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