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’


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.