In this week’s episode we welcome Stacey St. John to the podcast. We start out by diving into how Podio’s flexibility has meant their business processes could be mapped and managed effectively (better than any tool out there) and bookend the conversation by talking about how we have helped them externalise their amazing data from Podio into client facing dashboards and reporting tools.
This is a wonderful chance to hear from someone who has driven the Podio implementation throughout her business and how she has managed to leverage the power and flexibility of Podio to help them grow their business internationally. It’s a great insight into both the process of building Podio and the opportunities that present to you once you are truly Powered by Podio!
Check out Stacey and the awesome MRA team on MRA’s Website.
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Welcome to powered by podio 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 you can have on your business when it’s powered by podio. Join us each week as we learn 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.
Jordan Fleming: 0:46
Hey, everybody, and welcome to this week’s episode of supercharge. I’m your host, Jordan Samuel Fleming here to talk all about the power of workflow and automation, when your business is powered by podio. Now, this week, I’m delighted to welcome an old friend Stacy, St. JOHN, Stacy and her company MRI services have been clients of game changes for quite a while now. And we sort of book in this conversation, we start with really a discussion around some of the complexities of their business process, which podio being so flexible, allowed us to build into their system and, and that they can continue to develop and change and upgrade and iterate on to and and really how podio structure helps that out. And we On the flip side, we talk a little about one of our newest projects, which them, which is about taking the data that they have in podio, this amazing resource of business process, lead data and externalising that, of taking it from podio. And showing it to clients in graphical forms, reporting forms, giving the clients the ability to filter and sort and view and all these sorts of things, really shows, you know, two sides of podio as it can interact with your business, you know, that ability to control quite a complex process, which is what podio I think does want, you know, one of the best things in the world. But also then, to let the right horse be for the right course, you know, don’t try and force things into being in podio. When, for instance, you can take the data that works so well as a process inside podio and externalise that into for instance, what we’ve built, which is a a client dashboard and reporting tool, really fun conversation. Great to hear their journey in podio, and how they’re continuing to evolve it. And we started up just catching up a bit on where we are and having been at home for the last little while because of the pandemic. Let’s drop in. Absolutely. Well. Welcome to the podcast. So we’ll obviously the first thing we’re gonna do is, since not everybody in the world knows who you are yet, I know it’s a shock. So why don’t you just introduce yourself a little, and, and the company? Sure. So
Stacey St.John: 3:13
my name is Stacy St. JOHN, and I’m the director of client success for Mr. Ray. And MRI is a global advertising production consulting firm. So we work with major advertisers all around the globe, to help them maximise the value of their production spending. So any out of pocket costs when it comes to, you know, creating their marketing assets. We help drive out, you know, any extraneous incremental spending only, you know, having them focus their dollars on where they’re gonna get the maximum benefit from them. So
Jordan Fleming: 3:55
yeah, and you guys work all over the world.
All over the world.
Stacey St.John: 4:00
We do, you know, and it’s funny that you say that because we have actively been, you know, expanding our, our reach globally. And we tried to take a really strategic approach and the way that we have looked at globalising, and we focus on putting boots on the ground where our clients need them. And so it allows us to really have a laser focused model when it comes to recruiting top talent in in local markets and retaining top talent as well. So, anyway,
Jordan Fleming: 4:42
well and the the purpose of the podcast primary purpose is to talk podio so you guys, you guys are using podio for a while.
Stacey St.John: 4:55
This podio journey started if I’m not mistaken back then. 2018 so I think it’s, yeah, little three years ish.
Jordan Fleming: 5:06
I was gonna say I’m the I should really not be the host of a podcast. Cuz my memory, like, I know you guys podio has been around for a while. But so you guys now, how did you initially find out about podio? Because not, that’s always an interesting thing, because, you know, it is still a niche product comparatively?
Stacey St.John: 5:29
Yes. So we had previous to finding podio, we had implemented ShareFile as our main server, we have multiple locations, again, all around the world. And so ShareFile allowed us away to connect, you know, and store documents as a document hub, if you will. And, you know, the thing that we also appreciated about ShareFile is it’s awesome security. And, you know, that’s something that was very important for us to have for our clients. So when we, when I recognise the need that, whoa, we really need a system to allow our departments and our geographies to talk to each other and automate workflows and streamline ways of working. I got on Google and started Googling systems that would integrate with ShareFile. And that’s how I found podio.
Jordan Fleming: 6:37
Wow, that that you mean maybe one of the that’s a that’s a that’s a small use case there. Comparatively well, Citrix will be delighted I should pass this test. Oh, wow. So So you were ShareFile first, and then I get so so then you reached out? Did you reach out transit Citrix?
Stacey St.John: 6:59
Yes, I reached out to Citrix and told them what I was looking for. I had chickened out. I mean, I was travelling for work. And I was I remember I was in a hotel room. And I took out a trial account of podio. And I got in there. And I was like, well, this looks cool. But I have no idea how to set it up. So I reached out to Citrix and of course, they were the ones that connected me to you guys. So
Jordan Fleming: 7:27
Wow. So and then. So you know, podio, obviously for, I guess, three years you’ve been using and I think they’re to me knowing your system. relatively well. Although I wouldn’t say I know the best in our company. Certainly, I there are two things that really interested me about your journey and podio. Number one, is the way you translated the business process into podio. And I want to touch on that. And I want to hear a bit about that. Because you guys have quite a involved process with a lot of moving parts and a lot of elements to it. So that’s one bit and then I’m very interested in finding out obviously without naming any names unless that you are able to name them and I so I won’t name any. But you’ve recently started to take the data from podio, and externalise it. And I think that brings some really interesting use cases that you have specifically. So I’d really like to book end our chat around those two things. Because I think they’re fascinating. And I think they they will resonate with people. So can we start maybe with the, you know, the the bringing, you know, the bringing of the business process into podio. what that was like the pain the good, the bad, because there’s good, there’s bad, there’s legalese. There’s fun. What was it like from your end?
Stacey St.John: 8:52
You can’t see the grey hairs because I do colour my first spoke. No, in all seriousness, you know, one of the things that makes Emirates unique is we have a very flexible, agile way of working again, we work with very large clients all around the world, and all have really unique needs. And we do our best to serve those unique needs in the most efficient way. Right. But what that means is there’s not one way of doing things within our own operation. And so when I, I remember Jordan, we started drawing out the process on lucid chart, if I’m not mistaken, and that turned into one big old massive workflow chart. But I really tried to go to each department within our company and say, just walk me through day to day What happens who communicates with you? When does that communication occur? How is it occurring today? Right, I kind of knew how it was, how it was occurring, but what the timing looks like, and what did they need, in order to do their jobs better, more efficiently, you know, and streamline that communication between departments. So I spent a fair amount of time just doing research internally within our organisation, and tried to map that out. Okay. Um, and before I actually got the sign off, to move forward with podio, I presented to our executive leadership team and said, here’s the vision, right? Um, and look at all the efficiencies, we could drive by automating this set of workflows. And, you know, as you might imagine, that’s evolved quite a bit, as you know, over the last three years, so it’s kind of like, once you dip your toe in the water, and you, you know, you understand how great it is to have things, you know, move at the speed of lightning, and not have to find something in your inbox. Or you can pull up a document, you know, with the click of a button, new ideas start to formulate to so I think that initial process design, getting it into podio was documenting it after, you know, having a lot of internal research, but then also sharing that out with you and with Andrew, and you helped me really vet that process. Right. And, and brought up well, what if this happens? And what about this scenario, right? So we had to kind of think through what was on the paper and look at additional ways that situations might arise and how we would handle those. Because
Jordan Fleming: 12:06
you guys, you guys have what I would class as a relatively, like you, you were not you were coming to it with a relatively large process need, even if it wasn’t, as you say, fully documented, or, you know, like, and I don’t mean that like it wasn’t a but you’re not and not, most companies don’t just have really, really well designed processes that are written out. I mean, that’s just unless you’re an engineering firm. It’s just not, you know, and it’s like something business like life critical. You just don’t tend to do that. So you guys had a relatively large, and I would sing as you find it flexible process, like, yeah, this, but in this case, that and well, you know, I used to say like, Okay, if the moon’s full, we’re gonna do this. But if it’s a Tuesday, then it you know, and that’s but the the I think fun thing about your process in podio, has been the relative ability within some constraints, because you, you need constraint for things to work, or you’re just, you’re out, you’re gone. But the relative flexibility of podio to accommodate these different things,
Stacey St.John: 13:19
is that jive with salutely? I mean, that’s actually one of my favourite parts about podio. Because I’ve worked in, you know, building out other systems with other developers. And the thing that I love about podio. And what you guys help me implement is that flexibility, right? So someone has a need, or a certain department has a need, or a client has a need. And I know that I can go to you and say, here’s what I’m trying to accomplish. Here’s an idea. Here’s my idea of how I think we can use podio to do it. What do you think? Right? Um, what does Andrew think? And we again, we kind of flush that out before putting that into action. But I think having a system that has that modularity and flexibility. I mean, hands down, it’s been a complete game changer.
Oh, my gosh, I’ve
Stacey St.John: 14:27
said it, and I’m like, Hey,
Jordan Fleming: 14:29
I’ll take it. I’ll take it. I’ll take it. I know, I can’t ever change the name of a company, but you can never change it. And just, I mean, I think one of the interesting things about your guy’s business as well, is that you do have a sort of very defined, set, a team set almost like these are the people who do this role. These are the people do this role, and these people don’t need to see what these people are doing and these people don’t need to do it. But this bed. And I think that’s one of the things that podio has been able that podio. And what we have built around podio has been able to achieve in a way that gives everyone the best of, or at least hopefully, the web, if not the best of all worlds. A very, very strong without the need for extraneous effort.
Stacey St.John: 15:23
Yeah, I would say, you know, podio is the core product, right, but the rapper, what’s that
Jordan Fleming: 15:34
Stacey St.John: 15:35
the hub, there you go. And then the wraparound that we’ve been able to do through like, our consultant portals, you know, so we have different consultants, again, located all around the world, and different consultants are allowed to see different things based on, you know, the particular client that they serve, because, again, that data security is critical for our clients, right. So we have a lot of organisations within the same category that we serve. So again, having a best practice model to really segment and allow people to only see what they’re allowed to, was critical, right. So I would consider outside of that hub that wrap around product and developing something around podio. To allow us to do that has been, you know, really, really important for us. And it’s allowed us to scale our business more easily and efficiently because of that,
Jordan Fleming: 16:40
right. And the newest project we’ve just completed and again, obviously not naming any names, but what I find fascinating, or what I think is really gonna be interesting for people is you so you guys are a company that holds a lot of data, you you hold a lot of information. And a lot of information that we we have within podio a lot of just like caught like imagine I’m being as as, as kind of open as I am. But so you guys deliver projects for all these big clients, you have a lot of data around those projects. And one of the things that we’ve done very recently is give you the opportunity to give your clients this data in a very manageable graphic, and and a searchable, filterable way. That is something that’s going to resonate with a lot of people, can you tell me a little bit how that has gone? What that’s brought you how it’s working?
Stacey St.John: 17:40
Yeah, yeah, sure. So we did have a very specific need for a very specific client, they were looking for the ability to, as you said, within a moment’s notice, look at all the data that from the projects that we have supported. And so, again, when I started thinking about Okay, well, what’s the best way for us to deliver on that, of course, you know, podio was was right there in the forefront. And so we’ve built a client portal that allows them again, a tonne of flexibility to search for projects in a myriad of ways. And the thing that I love about that client portal is it allows them to see things from different perspectives. So not only filter the projects in the way that they want, but then when they get their results, they can look at a list of projects and they can sort them in different ways. They can download the, the metadata from those projects into a CSV and go and slice and dice however they want. They can also look at data visualisations from those search results, literally with the click of a button. And even be able to, you know, on the fly, look at currency conversions. And again, because we do have that global need, that was something that was really important to us to be able to help our clients see data in different currencies very easily. So again, you know, it’s all about identifying the, the solution we’re trying to accomplish, and then having the right resources like you and Andrew and your team to be able to implement it, but I think it’s also we wouldn’t have been able to do any of that if we didn’t have the right hub. Right. So
Jordan Fleming: 19:54
when I think what’s really fascinating about this, what, for me, you know, there’s so many companies out there that look Like podio is brilliant, obviously at being that hub and building the process driven bits of your, of your hub and, and doing that, and it is an amazing data repository. But that ability to externalise in a way that is palatable and frictionless to other people, like clients, or suppliers or whatever, or your consultants, you know, who, who may not be who if you tried to get them into podio, it would be friction, and it would be painful.
Jordan Fleming: 20:37
right? Well, yeah. So that ability to say, right, let’s let podio do this amazing bit of work. And let’s on top of the place this great, seamless sync between the data that we’re showing it, to me, that’s something that resonates across almost every business type, because it is almost always a need to be like, Oh, you’re your supplier, and I need to show you the orders. You’re a client, and I need you to show you what we’ve executed. And yours is a great example of that, I think.
Stacey St.John: 21:04
Yeah, I agree. I think it has application, regardless of any business type or business structure. Again, I think the agility and the flexibility that podio brings has, you know, enabled us to do things that we never envisioned when we started out three years ago, right. And that’s the cool thing is that continues to evolve and grow. And and now, you know, I have my colleagues calling me saying, Hey, can we track this in podio? You know, so I know fielding requests, which is awesome, you know, and at the same time, it’s, it’s constantly again, shifting, evolving, living, breathing thing. Um,
Jordan Fleming: 21:55
well, I, I haven’t worked with you guys, for so long. I, you know, one of my bucket list things is, and again, without naming any names is to phase out a certain system that you guys use, that I will not name. And, and I think actually the work that’s gone on with your client portal, and with the field consultant, portal, potentially gives us a model for how, because it’s always it was always the user interface of podio, where that other system was just, it was just, it was gonna cause a lot of friction. Whereas I think when you start to see these other things, and how they push and pull data from podio, I think there’s potentially a model there and and that, you know, I think there’s a real power in understanding that podio can do brilliant things. And then when you combine it with an externalised resource where you’re visualising and display, whether it’s via logins or whatever, right, you know, you suddenly get even more power.
Stacey St.John: 22:54
Yeah, absolutely. And, again, I I look at new things that are new needs on our side, but new ways that we can leverage the flexibility that podio brings is actually importing data, as well as, in addition to exporting, because I won’t bore your listeners with this, you know, specifics of it. But it is something that, you know, again, just having that agility to be able to get information into the system with a click of a button or get information out of the system with a click of a button. It makes everyone’s lives so much easier. And it also saves a tonne of time, right, because now there’s one centralised place where people know that they can get the information from, you know, absolutely,
Jordan Fleming: 23:56
absolutely. And I think, you know, just to round off the discussion and bring it back to ShareFile I think one of the things as well that that people don’t necessarily understand is, you know, ShareFile for those who’ve never used it is, is obviously it’s it’s a secure file management system, akin to a Google Drive or a Dropbox. It’s an online cloud based file management system with some added security bells and whistles for business right and, and but because of the API connectivity in your system and and others we’ve done we have that ability to drag you know to bring automatically bring over direct one click links to folders, so that you can also if you are building a you know, client portal, and you want people to be able to see a folder of information. You don’t need to make it a friction process. You can be like, hey, click here to see the folder. Yeah. And that’s, that’s huge. Yeah, that’s a really big thing.
Stacey St.John: 24:59
The other thing To again for repeatable project types, having the ability to create those folder templates that are automatically again, integrated with the projects based on the project type has been immensely helpful, for sure.
Jordan Fleming: 25:17
Absolutely. Well, Stacey, thanks so much for coming on today. I think it’s a really interesting case study around both implementing as a rigorous and flexible business process but also how we can externalise data. Just as a final little bit. I will post your link to your website. Obviously on the podcast, I would encourage everyone to check it out if you are doing the things that MRI or managing if you are managing big advertising budgets. hop on over there. Oh, Stacy, Stacy, and Stacy. It’s been fantastic to see you. Thanks so much for being here. Hey, no
Stacey St.John: 25:54
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