With orientation to ranged estimates, resource availability, and task prioritization that powers a proprietary scheduling engine, LiquidPlanner has enabled insights and planning accuracy that saves teams time and delivers insights that increase confidence around project outcomes. As this series focuses on what makes a particular product standout for project management, especially for virtual teams, the improvements reflected in this new product release merit a closer look.
I think we can all agree, project management is hard. Project management without the right tool is harder. The best project managers embrace and oversee full adoption and utilization of technology that enables team collaboration, effective communication, and resource allocation to deliver projects on time and on budget.
Think for a minute about your favorite pizza. Like pizza, most project management tools are good, but some are far better than others. LiquidPlanner has continued to impress me for over a decade. The platform has earned accolades for its capacity to handle complex projects, portfolios of projects, and allocation of resources better than any other tool on the market. Here are five reasons why LiquidPlanner stands out...
1. Automated scheduling and forecasting
Many project tools do a nice job of task capture and assignment. Failures occur when change happens or tasks are reprioritized, each requiring manual updates across the project tool. These manual updates represent a burden we project managers are all too familiar with. There is a better way.
Built around a proprietary algorithm that calculates when your projects are expected to start and finish, LiquidPlanner’s scheduling engine dynamically updates in real-time. As change happens, which it always will, the tool automatically recalculates and updates, so project managers and team members have visibility into task status across the project or even across a large portfolio of projects.
2. Ranged estimates
Think of a time you hired a contractor to do work on your home, or an auto mechanic to fix a mysterious ailment on your car. Was the original estimate of time to complete or overall cost accurate? Probably not. The same holds true when projects get pitched, approved and start, then stumble, as unexpected or unplanned circumstances emerge. As the saying goes, life happens.
The LiquidPlanner founder, Charles Seybold, saw this happening time and again across project teams he led at his prior employers Microsoft and Expedia. Sometimes, work is easier than anticipated and tasks get completed sooner than expected. Other times, it is harder, or issues emerge that derail progress. As a result, the tool he built included a scheduling engine fueled in part with ranged estimates that accommodate real-world variation and realistic time-to-completion expectations. This enables project managers to more effectively allocate resources and ultimately take on more work, translating to higher productivity and organization success.
3. Global prioritization
Everyone comes to work wanting to do a good job. That said, most employees do not know what work should be done first, second or last. Without clear direction and a plan, team members may work on the wrong things and run the risk of severely impacting broader project management deliverables.
Naturally, some projects and tasks within projects take priority over others, yet most project management tools do not capture priority meaningfully, or even at all. LiquidPlanner does and, as a result, leaders can have confidence in their team to do the right work first and less important work later. This prioritization keeps project progress healthy, teams aligned, and companies productive.
4. Resource management
Today’s business environment and continuous increases in cost of talent combine to demand leaders find ways to achieve more with less. Teams who lack visibility into others’ work and have no place to plan, capture, or track progress are at a disadvantage. Some project team members end up being underutilized and others run the risk of burning out as they take on an unfair or unrealistic share of the workload.
Teams must be nimble, be able to spot risk early, have capacity to adapt to change quickly, and ensure accurate insights to empower decision making. Establishing and maintaining an accurate representation of work assigned across a team, and estimates of how long each task will require, delivers insights that reveal resource utilization and availability. Knowing when each task will be complete enables project leaders to allocate tasks more equitably and, most importantly, reassign team members to other tasks when resources are freed up. The result? Higher utilization of finite and costly human resources coupled with confidence and overall productivity. And, as on-time delivery becomes habit, workforce dynamics and company culture improve as well.
5. Planning intelligence
As I learn more about this product, I have concluded it fills a gap in the market around something the LiquidPlanner team refers to as ‘planning intelligence.’ Almost every other tool is rooted in classic, deterministic scheduling – where users input hard start and finish dates resulting in static schedules that do not account for real-world uncertainty. Today’s work environments are fast-paced and, as we learned from the year we have just been through, sometimes unpredictable change occurs. Traditional project management cannot keep up. The human brain is not capable of calculating accurate schedule dates across large numbers of projects and shared resources. And the valuable time of project managers is wasted when they need to manually track and enter information to keep comparatively simplistic tools up to date. The LiquidPlanner predictive scheduling engine does this work for you, helping teams in complex environments uncover key insights and gain competitive advantage.
While I pride myself in being an expert in project management, nothing is more convincing than a customer testimonial. In doing research for this article, one customer shared the following, “The major advantages of LiquidPlanner are its ease of use, seeing real-time availability of resources and the downstream implications of changes. When we reflect changing conditions, the tool recalculates completion dates, basically on the fly, enabling us to reallocate resources to ensure our projects are completed on time.” Sound too good to be true? I assure you it is a reality for this customer.
Working on this series has been rewarding and I have discovered new capabilities of established PM tools that I was not aware of. And, I have discovered some very good PM tools that I previously had little knowledge of. You will get doses of both of these as we move forward with more installments. Please check back for many more presentations of software and services I feel you should be aware of and am confident will benefit the work you do.