Collaboration and Flow

I run a very small company and have partnerships with a few other small (but bigger than mine) companies. Before this, I worked in the enterprise space, and was used to all the formalities and software that rises up to take the wiggle room out of experiences. As a recovering senior project manager for a wireless telecommunications company, I’ve really resisted project management software as long as possible. But I’ve come to realize that that the lack of a group workflow platform was impacting my collaboration.

A Glimpse into My Workflow

In my company, we do a lot of our interactions via email and text. We sometimes jump on GoToMeeting with HDFaces to get the visual component on the go, or sometimes, we’ll use Google Talk’s video, if we’re already into a chat session on that platform. We’re good at rapidly moving information back and forth between systems.

But what was missing was something a bit more static. We needed a project management solution that let us look at all our projects at a glance, if only to realize just how over-committed and busy I was making everyone. We’d tried a few, let a few accounts just flap in the breeze, and then went back to trying one we hadn’t looked at for a while.

And That’s How We Rediscovered Podio

Now, I know that I’m writing on behalf of Citrix, and that reading this, you’re like, “Oh jeez. Citrix just acquired Podio,” but really, the two events weren’t related. We mentioned on a phone call with Citrix that we were just getting our project management software back in line to help with collaboration, and when they asked who we were using, we said Podio. And then they giggled and couldn’t tell us anything for a week or two until the news broke.

What we like about Podio is that it has the capability of being either very lightweight or very detailed. As a former project manager, the last thing I ever want to see is a dense Gantt chart full of linked deliverables and cascading commitment days anchored together. What we like is that we can build apps within it that let us choose our level of personal and professional neurosis.

Flow

What we found inside our company is that we like collaboration that flows. Throw on GoToMeeting with HDFaces? Sure! Sprawl across Twitter and onto the blog and off again? Check.

And MOBILE. If apps don’t have a mobile-friendly interface, at the very least, then they’re no go for us. We’re looking forward to the enhancement of even more apps that allow us to collaborate better while mobile. It doesn’t have to be smartphone-sized. I like the iPad scale just as much. But wow, if something doesn’t work in mobile and I have to wait until I pull out my laptop to do it, things aren’t going to happen.

Why the Future Is Getting Cooler and Cooler

I’m really enjoying collaboration technology’s advancement. Starting back in the 1990s, we used to have to jump through hoops. The other problem was that IT departments used to be very insistent that employees use specific software packages and the like (usually Microsoft, because of negotiated deals).

The current trend is something like IT-sumerism, for lack of a better word. You want an iPhone in an all-BlackBerry world? Well sure! It seems to be working better for folks that way. Sure, it’s a bit of a mess handling all the various maintenance and “extra parts” issues, but that’s just part of the mix these days for IT departments.

What I like, also, is that mobile interactions are getting more and more acceptable and simply fluid. It used to be a hassle to be that one guy “on the phone” while everyone else was online and watching the demo. With tablets, we’re smoothing out that experience nicely.

For me, for my business, I’m really coming to enjoy collaboration and portability in all my tools. Now that Podio is back in place as our project management tool, I’m looking forward to seeing what the integration of that tool into the Citrix platform looks like, too. (I know. I’ll have to wait a little while. The ink’s not even dry.)

What say you? How are you collaborating? What are your flows like?

Photo Credit: AlphachimpStudio