Podio Threatens To Replace All Your Project Management Tools Project management software is essentially in the same place it was ten years ago. When pushed most people use an Excel spreadsheet (pro…
Five years ago I wrote this blurb about Podio, an up-and-coming app designed to replace all of your other project management tools. Guess what… it didn’t. And that’s not a knock on Podio; I’ve lost count of the number of project management tools out there. Some survive by filling a particular niche (e.g. Smartsheet for Gantt charts and end-to-end planning) or by getting bought (e.g. Wunderlist). Podio hasn’t done too badly: $4.6mm in funding and then acquired by Citrix in 2012. That’s a success.
But we’re still not where we need to be with project management tools. Some of the requirements:
- Ubiquitous – a tool needs to be everywhere that a worker is. Mobile, laptop, tablet, etc. Moreover it’s not good enough to simply cobble the same tool into each platform and call it good. The scenarios using a mobile device are very different than on a laptop.
- Integration – Most companies cannot simply move their other processes to your stack. Any tool then needs to integrate with Slack, email, GitHub/BitBucket, JIRA, etc. You could do fairly lightweight integrations via Zapier but if you want to truly succeed you need to make the seams between your app and the other pieces of the workflow disappear.
- Multiple workflows – Kanban boards are great for some purposes. Gantt charts are great for other purposes. Story-pointing and other agile techniques need to come into play. You can’t dictate the workflow or you will break adoption. Your tool can *definitely* suggest a great workflow where none exists but don’t force it.
- Reporting up and down – the tool needs to be useful in all areas of the management chain. As an individual contributor you need to get all the mess out of the way and get your job done. As a senior manager you want visibility into progress (or velocity or KPIs or whatever your org needs to be successful). Any tool needs to provide this both directions otherwise you wind up in a world where either a) workers are forced to use a tool that hurts productivity or b) someone manually cobbles together the visibility senior management needs which is wasteful.