If 1/ you use Podio as a PM system (vs. CRM, HR, etc.), 2/ you can't use spaces as project instances, 3/ you have milestones or deliverables that pretty much always have the same title (e.g. quite standard Proposal, Report, etc.) you do can link anything to anything, but you'll get to a point where you have no way to tel what project a deliverable/milestone etc. belongs to.
Create a central projects app (in a central space), so you can reference it in several other spaces (which is cool), e.g. for (consolidated) reporting purposes.
Then you need to recreate that same project item in all dedicated spaces (horizontal, e.g. administration, or vertical, like a business unit) that links to the central app (which is almost ok in iteself).
Then in one of the spaces, you have one (admittedly quite standard) Milestones app, with pretty much the same milestones structure for each project (quite standard too). If you don't reenter the project title in all milestones titles (which definitely will end up hurting data integrity and consistency; besides it baffling people to have to renter the project name “since we already linked it in the milestone item... ”), at some point, and somewhere (e.g. search results, field reference, filtering, etc.), you'll end up with a long list of the same milestones titles (e.g. Kick-off, Presentation, whatever x N) with no way to tell what project the milestone relates too.
If you work with project-based spaces that's ok, because (e.g. in a search result) Podio will tell what space the item belongs to, and you have your project reference underneath the milestone item. If you can't (work with project based spaces), then it won't (work).
That's probably because Podio was initially designed with “spaces = projects = spaces” in mind. Now with newer features like cross-space references, I think more people don't have project-based spaces, and Podio now lacks a built-in Project global instance (or something to that effect) which would allow to link anything to a definite project, built-in, meta-item throughout spaces and apps.
With built-in project instances, any item, task or whatever could be related, and somehow “belong” to a project that could be referenced as such throughout spaces, apps, items, tasks, contacts, calendar, whatever in a way an item can be referenced/contextualized by the app and space it “belongs” to. This would make links/references “intelligent” (where these are currently “dumb”) project-wise.
Right now, as I put it somewhere else, Podio is the “Project management software” with built-in instances for everything project related (Discussion, Contacts, Tasks, Calendar), everything but... Projects. This isn't a feature, IMO (like “That's precisely what apps are for”), or we wouldn't have Tasks, Calendar, Contacts, etc. which all could be replaced by an (« more flexible ») app.
This is maybe the most hindering shortcoming (and potential deal-breaker) we have found to Podio in our test phase (25 users).
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