Joel Hall
Workfast Studios, LLC

Episode Summary

In today’s episode we speak with Joe Hall from Workfast Studios in Georgia. Joe is a Podio Partner who started out building Podio for his own company and soon started helping other businesses harness the power of Podio for their own organisations.

Joe brings a great insight into how he works with clients to design the best system for them and we have a fascinating conversation.

Show Links:

You can reach Joel at:




Speaker 1: 0:00

Welcome to powered by polio automation is everything. Supercharge your business with podio. Get ready for another episode of supercharged with Jordan Samuel Fleming, your weekly dive into the awesome impact workflow and automation can have on your business when it’s powered by podio. Join US each week as we learned from the top podio partners in the world as we investigate system integrations and add ons and hear from real business owners who have implemented podio into their business. Now join your host, Jordan, Samuel Fleming, CEO of game changers for this week’s episode.

Speaker 2: 0:44

Hey everybody. Welcome to this episode of supercharged. I’m your host Jordan Samuel Fleming. Had to talk all about the power of workflow and automation when your business is powered by podio and his guests. His fellow podio partner Joe Hall from me

Speaker 3: 0:58

worked Fast Studios in Georgia. Joe, welcome to the podcast. You introduce yourself to the audience.

Speaker 4: 1:04

Hey, thanks for and thanks for having me. I’m the founder of work studio and we are all about leveraging tools like podio to create better technology experiences for employees, small businesses.

Speaker 3: 1:17

Excellent. Now, I can’t wait to dive into the type of work you do in the systems you’re building. But I always like when I’m talking to a fellow podio partner, I was like to go back to the beginning and find that how you got involved with podio. Everybody’s got a different story but it, but we’ve got themes. So, so tell us a bit about how you first got in.

Speaker 4: 1:36

Yeah. Years ago, uh, I worked as a salesperson here in the southeast, um, at a company and we had just rolled out Microsoft dynamics CRM at the time. And unfortunately for all of us in the field, we rolled out a version that was about five years too old. Um, and for anyone out there who’s worked with dynamics are especially older version of dynamics, um, I would say it’s not very collaborative. Uh, it’s not very mobile. Um, and in fact, in order to use it at the time, because it was tied to Internet explorer, I actually had to run a VM on my Mac in order to login to dynamics CRM to do the CRM things that a salesperson does. So, uh, you know, fast forward a little bit, one of the engineers I was working with, he actually had come across podio and within maybe a day and a half, two days, um, we had not only replicated the functionality we had in dynamics three 65, um, but we had started to pull in some of our engagement and consulting folks and their processes in as well. So it’s started just on the sales side CRM, but, um, it was kinda like wildfire, you know, we, we quickly got, got other people included and all kinds of fun was had.

Speaker 3: 2:48

Well, and you touched on something really interesting there that, that that is critical to people getting podio kind of getting used to an understanding of podio is, is how fast you were able to duplicate a system, a bad system into something that worked well. I mean, that, that speed of development and Podio, that’s just amazing, isn’t it? That that must have really struck you right away.

Speaker 4: 3:12

It did. And in fact, that’s a concept that I’m, you know, we’ve taken forward all of these years later with work fast. Um, you know, the idea of taking a band process, right, and it’s throwing in a new tool. We were astounded at how fast we can build a bad process and a new tool. Um, but what we’ve taken forward now is the ability to sit down and really think about, okay, why does this thing take 10 steps? Could it take three, and then how can we go about doing that? And can we put that power in the hands of the people who are actually doing that work? So that’s been a big thing for us at work fast.

Speaker 3: 3:45

Absolutely. That, that resonates with me as well. I mean, I think people think of us as a software company and the truth is we’re a process company, uh, in so many ways where we’re, where we’re a process consultant Z, a management consultancy where we’re, we’re, we’re asking the question why, um, more than anything else. So you started out duplicating or, or, or, or bringing the, the dynamics, a sales CRM in a, what point did you make the transition from building podio for yourself to a commercial opportunity to build it for other people?

Speaker 4: 4:21

Uh, it was probably a couple of years ago. Um, you know, I, my career’s taken all kinds of twists and turns, you know, within a couple of different companies. I’m working with a number of technologies. Um, but you know, as I kind of got to a point in my life where I thought, you know, I, I’ve, I’ve worked with a couple of people who’ve started businesses. I, I’ve been impressed with how they did it. I think it’s something I could do, um, you know, gravitating back towards the passionate I had to really help people, um, you know, have a better experience with the technology at work, be able to build something that’s useful for them, right. Without having to necessarily wait for it. That was something that I enjoyed doing so much that, you know, within the last couple of years I decided, you know, it’s, it’s been a bit of a hobby. I think it’s time to, to really take that passion and do something with it.

Speaker 3: 5:09

Fantastic. And your client base, is it, is it mainly local or what type of companies you work with?

Speaker 4: 5:16

Yeah, mate. Maybe local services businesses. Like you said, um, you know, we’re in the process business. So very rarely do I find, you know, a client or a potential client or even a customer, um, you know, that I’ve worked with in the past who can improve the processes, you know, that, that kind of make their work happen. Um, so, you know, there, there are things specific to, um, you know, the accounting industry or to the finance groups or to the, the professional services firms. Um, but at the end of the day, each of these clients, you know, is a bit unique in their processes and how they like to work and how they like to use tools like podio. So it’s been kind of cool to take things that I’ve learned from each of those groups that are common, um, and apply those elsewhere, but also take those ideas that were more a one off and just say, hey, I don’t know if you guys thought about leveraging something like podio to do something this way, but here’s somebody over here who uses it in this fashion. And it’s not, it’s not something that you would associate to being tied to a specific industry. So that’s been a good time for us.

Speaker 3: 6:19

I actually, I think that’s a, that’s a really interesting point I see is a podio partner because, you know, we’ve now built so many systems across so many different sectors that, um, I think one of the values we sometimes bring to our clients is the ability to listen and learn about their business and then say, hey man, have you ever thought about it like this? And not a, you know, you’re bringing that other exp, you know, that other experience and perspective to their business and maybe challenging them a little. Obviously they know their business better and sometimes they can slap back and say, Nah, it doesn’t work like that. But sometimes you get someone saying, yeah, you know what, we never really done it like that, but that could work. Um, is that, uh, what’s your process for sort of like, how do you find that you are going about the process of building assistant for someone?

Speaker 4: 7:09

Yeah. So we like to start with what we call our employee journey map. Um, and for anyone in the, in the design world, um, you know, who’s familiar with the client journey and mapping that out, we’ll do something very, very similar internal. So we take and we map out for any specific client, you know, what does, what does their world look like from the point at which they may engage with a potential client of theirs all the way through the point where, you know, what we’re, we’re helping and supporting this client. We’ve got an ongoing relationship with them. Um, what we do is we map out all the key steps of that journey and we identify who are the people involved, you know, what are the key tasks that, that they’re undertaking at that point, uh, what are the tools that they’re using? And we start to map out and do these tools, talk to each other, is there chances to automate some of these things, um, and remove more of that mundane work. So, um, I found that while we do spend a lot of time there, um, and, and some clients think we’re crazy to spend that much time there outside of the technology, um, it’s really important. And, and they can see how effective that is later on when we go to build that process into the technology. You know, the white bulb kind of goes off and they say, wow, we can’t believe we’ve been doing it that way for all of these years. You know, why, why did we, why did we have that so ingrained in our heads that, that, that had to be the process. So that’s, that’s where we typically start out with our clients.

Speaker 3: 8:33

And I, I find certainly if you’re, if you’re working with a company that has never worked with podio before, we, we do, uh, a very kind of defined a way of building a system. Probably very much like we don’t use the exact same terminology and maybe things that you do, but let’s be honest, we got to learn about it. We’ve got to figure out what to do. We’ve got to build it. That’s asset. We’ve got to finish, there’s only so things you can do. But one of the things we do in that first phase of analysis, we actually spend a lot of time there. And, and there are times where clients are like, well, why are we spending 30 hours or 40 hours doing this? Um, and, and we actually do, uh, we offer a two day on sites for an extra fee, um, where, where usually me, I’ll come into their business for two days and we’ll walk through the different parts of their business together so I can feel it and see it and touch it and talk to people. And universally, people on the other end of that two days has said it’s the idea that it was enormously valuable because you’ve got to change the client’s mindset into this is how we’ve always done it to, this is how we could do it. And I guess that’s, that’s another part of that process that you have to go through.

Speaker 4: 9:45

It is, it’s funny I think about the show undercover boss. Um, you know, you have to kind of take a step back from your role in the organization and you really have to go out with the people who are doing the day to day work and understand how that work is being done. You have to understand how the landscape can change and how quickly it can change for them. And you have to be able to understand from their perspective what would it mean for them to have a tool like podio where they could make those changes and adapt that quickly. Um, you know, what would that mean for them being able to do their jobs? Um, and like you said, for a lot of leaders upfront, that’s really hard to do. That’s hard to do as a business owner, to think that, you know what, maybe I don’t have this totally figure out from a central standpoint. But once you do go do those ride alongs and you’d get out with those employees and you understand what those challenges are, um, it does make it that much easier to come back around and say, okay, here’s, here’s how we’re going to approach this problem. Here’s how we’re gonna approach this build out. Um, and here’s going to be the outcomes and the positive results that you’ll see down the road.

Speaker 3: 10:52

Absolutely. Um, so I always think people learn best by stories or people, you know, they’ll get intrigued by stories. So, uh, when you, you know, could you give us a couple examples of, of, you don’t have to name names, there’s no confidentiality, but give us some ideas of, of the type of challenges you solved, problems you solve for companies, type of companies that maybe you’ve worked with where you’ve implemented something that’s really made an impact.

Speaker 4: 11:16

Yeah. Yeah. So it’s funny, I think about the companies I’ve worked for in the companies I’ve helped. Um, and it seems like a very straightforward part of the podio story. Um, but I think about all the time that I’ve spent, um, emailing documents back and forth, right? We’re tracking things in a spreadsheet that gets emailed back and forth. Um, and to this day it’s amazing to run into companies that, that, that is still the solution. You know, we’ll all the technology that’s out there with, you know, podio and Citrix and Microsoft and all these other small, you know, small SMB type technologies that you can use it. It’s crazy manual things still are. So, um, you know, I, I recently had a chance to work with a client, um, you know, in the accounting space and the rewarding part for me was to hear their reaction when we kind of brought that story to life within podio and we said, you know what, all that process of sending and sending a document through an email, having a client printed off, physically sign it, scan it back in with their phone and email it back to you and do that process multiple times throughout their, their engagement together, being able to see their reaction to, you know, podio and to being able to automate that with almost one or two clicks. Uh, it was priceless. You know, I thought about, man, if there is a way to record people’s reaction to this for seeing it for the first time, that would be, that would be a great thing to do. Um, you know, almost as a, as a blog series of video blogs because it does, you can, you can see the wheels turn for them when they’re counting the hours that they’ve spent doing that kind of thing. Um, they can see those hours and say, all right, you know, that’s, that’s time I could have spent doing something else at work or I could have spent with my family or you know, what have you. So those are the kinds of stories and things that we look for is not just what are the cool things we’ve done with technology, but, um, what are the results of that technology or that automation freedom up to go do,

Speaker 3: 13:13

do you ever, um, out of curiosity cause cause I do this in our own system. We, uh, obviously we’ve got a sales pipeline management, uh, and, and when we create a pipeline, when we worked at pipeline, and if it gets the point where they’re signing it, we send the contract via RightSignature. And then when it comes back in, we automatically send the invoicing and we do the project creation, all that. Um, and I say all that glibly because actually the amount of companies that we’ve gone into, and you probably have the same, we’re all that manual and, and with taking, yeah, so I say that glibly, but one of the things that I always show people is, um, I calculate time to signature. I calculate when I’ve sent something and when they’ve signed it and then I show them the average. And that’s one of the things that blow, like we had a client where we did a waiver for them, for everybody who came on one of their events and this is thousands of people. They did a waiver and they used to have to print it out and exactly what you just described. And the time the signature went from an average of like five or six days where people would forget about it and be like, Oh God, I’ve got to print that thing. I got to sign it and scan and all that took two minutes. Um, that those, uh, those are really fun parts that you can do in podio.

Speaker 4: 14:27

Yeah, yeah. I think about, I think about in my personal life, you know, I’ll seek out stores where I can use mobile payments, right? So I, I got an email this morning that, you know, target is rolled out apple pay. And my first reaction was that’s going to be devastating. You know, when my wife kids figure that out. But uh, you know, that kind of experience for, you know, for our clients is what we want. Where, um, you know, I hate it the term time to money, but like you said, you can show them, look, you don’t have to sit down and spend hours crafting this document, send it out and not know what’s going on with it and wait days while the client tries to figure out, man, when’s the next time I’m going to be at home to print this thing off and sign it with an ink pen and you know, podio and share file and write signature. And a lot of these other tools, they really do give us the ability to go do that work in a much shorter amount of time, um, almost solely from us or iPad or whatever you’ve got in your hand at the time. It’s really cool.

Speaker 3: 15:28

And what do you, uh, you know, when you’re, you’ve built a lot of podium now, um, what do you think is the biggest asset that we have in podio?

Speaker 4: 15:41

You know, I would say it’s adaptability. Um, like I said earlier, I’ve always been a fan of partnering with the folks who are out in front doing the work. Um, I’ve always believed that those are the employees who are best suited to dictate to a business how they should adapt, how things should change. Um, you know, I’ve worked for some very large companies. I’ve had the chance to work with large companies as clients. Um, and it’s always been hard for me as, as a process person and somebody who’s grown up with, with this kind of technology. Um, it’s been hard to see a company who identify something that they can take action on right away. Um, something that’s changed in their landscape and they can really take advantage of it, but then it’s got to go back through all of these layers of approval and change management. You’ve got to get it involved and you’ve got to go through all of these hoops and a month later you might get the result you were looking for, but it’s a month too late. And so I’ve always thought the adaptability of podio and having that adaptability in the hands of some key employees is really important because that’s where you can take advantage of those changes in the landscape and people can alter the way they work very quickly.

Speaker 3: 16:53

Absolutely. Absolutely. So when you’re building systems, do you have any particular integrations you, you like working with any of the add ons or do you integrate with other systems yourself routinely? Uh, what have you, what have you done around that to help your clients?

Speaker 4: 17:08

Yeah. Um, you know, there’s, there’s the obvious snap, not to sound like too much of a fanboy of the integrations with share file and write signature are pretty fun. Those are pretty standard. Um, office three 65, I’ll come back around to that one for a minute. That, um, you know, my team a lot of times what that integration with office online. Um, oh, there was another one I was thinking about. The office online piece was kind of fun because like I’ve said, we used to, we used to email statement of work documents back and forth for approvals and people would save it off with versioning for signatures. And remember the first day that we realized if you attach a word document, you know, through the, through the office three 65 integration, it’s saved it and you could open that document from podio and word online, make a couple of updates and you wouldn’t have to re upload the document to Podio. The document that was already there in podio was the most current version. All of our minds were just blown. We were like, oh my gosh, we don’t have to, we don’t have to download this stupid document and save a version of it and make edits and then re upload it to podio. Um, so between that and seeing, you know, all of the tasks and calendar things, you know, all in one spot, the integration with office three 65 actually provided quite a bit of benefit for us as well.

Speaker 3: 18:30

So office three, six, five, I mean, one of the first things people ask me when they talk in office three, six, five is email integration. How do you, how do you approach communication integration like that email.

Speaker 4: 18:41

Yeah, thanks. Thank you for asking that. So one of the things that we first were looking for with podio was what you would find with a lot of CRM is just the ability to send an email from the system or to be an email and track that email back. Um, so we worked with a few clients who have looked at things like global mail where they’ve gone in and said, okay, we can add this add on and be able to, you know, start an email from podio itself. Um, you know, or execute, um, you know, the ability in email to track that email back to podio and the comments. Um, and that’s been very helpful because that gets you out of, um, you know, kind of swivel chairing between the two. You know, I send an email to a client and I’ve got to go to podio and make a comment that I sent an email to that client. Um, you know, that that ad on who’s allowed us a lot of our clients to, to streamline that process.

Speaker 3: 19:31

Yeah. I, I had the first episode of this podcast with, with Andreas. I’m from Globee flow formally and now globee male and proxy. And, um, and he and I have worked here for a while now, but, um, we talk about our mutual hatred for outlook a lot. And, um, cause I do hate that, that system. Um, but also I think, you know, when I show people, I always like to hear when people are used to checking their email in Gmail system. Because if you’re, if you’re ready to do that, then you’re ready to use podio as your email client. And, and actually, podio works brilliantly as an email client because you can forget this forever. Foldering crap where all you do is drag people’s, you know, emails into folders, you can contextually when link it to anything across your system. Um, and Globee Matt, you know, that get doing that kind of communication like I think is vital if you want a proper, a proper system. So are you, like, what do you, do you ever find challenges with where people are just refusing to get out of outlook?

Speaker 4: 20:39

We’ve run into it a few times. Um, outlook, slack, um, not so much Microsoft teams, but I foresee that coming up pretty quickly as people kind of move from legacy Skype over to Microsoft teams. They’re doing some cool things there. Um, and we’ve had some challenges just in getting people to wrap their heads around the fact that there’s really two parts to that communication. There’s just the one to one. Um, you know, Jordan and Joel talking back and forth over a chat. Um, and then there’s that contextual collaboration, right? Being able to have that communication around something you’re working on where, you know, you really don’t have that necessarily. What a slack or an outlook. Um, you know, you’re, you’re constantly searching through the threads of communication to figure out, okay, what was this relevant to, um, God forbid it was relevant to a document. Is that document med email the most recent one? You know, I, I love the, I love the emails. Where are we at with this? Um, you know, that’s been something that we’ve run around with a great big sore, just slicing away up for customers and for ourselves. So, you know, to, to to your question, yeah. I mean the more we can take people out of email and have them live in this, um, the better because it also takes away a lot of that day to day noise that they see. And, um, I’ll, I’ll tell you, there’s no better feeling than getting less email. So,

Speaker 3: 21:56

well, you bring up a very, very good point. You know, the, the, the, one of the things that we always look to solve is noise. And, and one of the problems with using multiple systems a lot of times and lots of different things is, is noise. Um, you know, I, I personally have always felt that slack is an incredibly noisy tool. Um, it’s not threaded. Yeah, you’ve got channels, but if you, you know, that doesn’t mean it’s threaded. It’s not contextual as you just rightly pointed out and contextuals all that really matters because I don’t want to be scrolling back through lines and lines and lines of a channel to try and find. The one thing that relates to the thing I’m trying to find, um, and noise is, is, is, uh, is a crucial part and, and contextually, um, you could technically drive in communication. I remember back in the day, podio used to recommend how to introduce podio and a workflow into teams. And they used to say, um, put a ban on internal emails. I put a bat on internal emails myself, but two years ago, and I can honestly say with his aside from a few exceptions, New People, I haven’t had an internal email in about two and a half, three years. Um, what do you think, is that something you normally see him try and do?

Speaker 4: 23:09

Uh, trying to put a ban on it. I would love to do, um, you know, you always get, like you said, you always get the one or two who you start a habit. I mean, email’s been around for so long that it’s so hard to break from that. Um, but you know, what we’ve also done with, with people in particular, people who, um, you know, like to complain about, well, what if I get too many notifications and you know, what if I get too much noise, which is always kind of funny because that’s what you’re getting an email. Um, we almost start from ground zero with, with podio. We’ll start with the default being, turn off all notifications and then let’s work over the coming days and maybe the next week or two to, to start adding things back in. And podio does give you that granularity with notifications to be able to do that. So we’ll slowly start introducing in notifications back in based on certain contexts. Um, and it’s great because, you know, I’ve worked with people who suffer from the proverbial fear of missing out, you know, so they’re people who want everything. We need to know all the things going on. Um, you know, and if you’re familiar with the podio popping noise, you know that that comes along with the mobile apps. Um, exactly. Yeah, you could sit there and listen to that all day. So, um, it’s been really fun to sit down with people and say, look, you don’t have any idea how much better your life can be. Uh, if we can take that communication out of email, move it over to podio where it’s got some context and then even remove some of the further noise from that by, by being a bit more granular with how we handle those notifications.

Speaker 3: 24:44

Absolutely. I agree with that 100%. And I know that pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop is so part of my life now that it’s like, I remember where we, uh, we, we, you know, we, we all remember the dark days a year ago, year and a half year Bendigo. I can do that a year ago. We are putting, it went silent for for 24 hours or something. Um, you know, whatever it was, 30 hours, which has never happened again, obviously. Um, but I remember when they first started popping back, there’s notifications. It was like, it was like some sort of addiction as like, oh, thank you. I’ve got my podio back.

Speaker 4: 25:19

Yup. Yup.

Speaker 3: 25:21

Absolutely. Well, listen, it was fantastic to talk to you. Let’s tell us a bit about how people can reach you. What are you looking for? What kind of clients, uh, give us a, a kind of plug about, about who you are and where we can reach it.

Speaker 4: 25:33

Yeah. Uh, you can reach work fast studios on Twitter, on Facebook, at work fast studios. Um, you know, we’re, we’re all about helping the small businesses anywhere from five to 50 employees who are struggling to kind of reign in that chaos as most are. Um, if they’re looking for a new way to do that and looking for some help, um, you know, to better their processes and really give those employees, you know, a great experience. But that’s what we’re here to do, using tools like podio and share file and some of the other Citrix solutions and integration. So, um, we’ve had a good run of it so far and hope to continue

Speaker 3: 26:07

and your, your website address is work fast

Speaker 4: 26:12


Speaker 3: 26:13

Excellent. Okay, well I’m going to put that a URL and I’ll try to, uh, uh, do me a favor. Send me the, your social media, uh, ones as well. I’ll pop that into the podcast links so people can find you directly. Uh, as I always absolute pleasure, jolted to speak with you, you and I have never talked before. Um, so it’s a pleasure to meet another polio partner. Uh, and I appreciate the time you took today and the insights you’ve given it to us. Uh, everybody listening, check them out. Work fast. the links will be in the podcast and a, have a great week. Joel. Thanks very much. Yeah. Thanks Jordan. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Speaker 1: 26:49

You’ve been listening to a supercharged with Jordan Samuel Fleming. Subscribe today on Itunes, Google play, or Spotify for your weekly dive into how you can supercharge your business by making it powered by podio. Be sure to check out our website. We are game where you can learn more and arranger 30 minute call with Jordan Day hell be you. Understand how podio supercharges you.

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