Podio introduces “Workflows”

Podio, the Citrix work management tool, has added a new capability, called Workflows. These offer an ability for the average user to construct if-this-then-that sorts of connections between different sorts of Podio information elements, much like the recipes at the popular IFTTT app. However, this is not — at the present time, anyway — being used to connect Podio to other apps, like Salesforce. Instead it’s currently limited to automating  the creation of a task or a comment when specified kinds of information are added to Podio’s internal ‘apps’.

Michael Dean, New Podio Feature: Introducing “Workflows”

Take, for example, time estimation for your client projects. You’ve got a Deliverables app with a duration field to indicate how long each deliverable should take to complete. You can now build a workflow to create a task for your project manager whenever this estimate is changed, so they can approve the time spend.

Should you customize your workflow to have your app create comments after a particular action, the comment is written by you but can use variables (the fields in the app) to enter data. This is done by using the @ symbol and choosing from the options that appear. For example, if the comment you created was:

“A new deadline of @Deadline has been chosen for this deliverable.”

Each time a comment is created it will enter the new deadline in place of @Deadline. This is particularly useful when you’re viewing updates in your activity stream, as you won’t need to go the item to see what the updated deadline is.

A more compelling use case is the automated creation of tasks and their assignment based on new information values.

Below you can see the When/Then structure of the New Workflow panel associated with a specifc Podio app. This rule is being structure to fire when there is a time estimate added to a Deliverable object in the app’s database.

Screenshot 2014-01-10 11.22.56

The next step is to create a task or a comment, in this version — from this Podio video — a task is created to have someone approve the estimate.

Screenshot 2014-01-10 11.22.25

This is pretty cool (although the example, where someone has to approve a time estimate, is pretty lame).  To work like real workflow, though, it would have to have more rich logic. Imagine the idea of a Podio app that allows people to fill a form posted on the company website (which is functionality they have today), and attach a resume to apply for a job. So, based on which job they are applying for the task would be routed to different people. Something like this:

if @job_class == ‘technical’ then assign = ‘Silvia Hamman’

else if @job_class == ‘support’ then assign = ‘Carlos Simms’

else assign = ‘Michaela Johnson’

endif

The Bottom Line

It’s early days for this Workflow functionality, but I can see that it is heading in a very interesting direction. Automating the generation of comments is a tiny step, but the automatic generation of tasks based on form-based inputs is actually a big step forward, and the integration with other applications could be huge, if and when Podio takes that giant step.

Relevant Analyst
Stowe Boyd

Stowe Boyd

Lead analyst, future of work Gigaom Research and stoweboyd.com

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