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Back in February, we were buried under a mountain of work.  It’s not a bad problem to have, but it sure made for quite the logistical nightmare.  It was not easy to schedule dozens of projects for dozens of team members and still make sure we hit our deadlines.

I wrote about the problem at that time, and a small sliver of hope that had appeared on the horizon. That sliver of hope is called LiquidPlanner.

lp

We have been using LiquidPlanner since February, and it has significantly streamlined our process.  Instead of juggling a calendar for each team member in Google Calendar, we just assign tasks to a team member, put a low and high estimate for how long it should take, and let LiquidPlanner handle scheduling the project.  It’s easy!  The whole team participates in project management now because they can see all of the tasks assigned to them and how it affects the schedule.

Instead of using Basecamp to handle messages, to-dos and file management, LiquidPlanner handles that too. Tasks are central to LiquidPlanner because they drive the schedule. It also allows us to comment on tasks, add messages, and work with clients.

As an added bonus, we can track our time against a task.  So, we’ve eliminated our home grown time tracking system and instead track time directly in LiquidPlanner.

LiquidPlanner is not all rainbows and unicorns.  There are a few things that were nicer in our previous systems, or could use some improvement.

  • The upcoming schedule is not as easy to read as Google Calendar.  They do a great job handling a LOT of data, but it takes time to get used to.
  • Communication is not as nice as it was in Basecamp. The biggest issue is not being able to tie files directly to a comment. 
  • If I assign a restricted member to a task in a project they don’t have access to, they should automatically be added to the project.  Too often we have tasks that people can’t see.
  • Pricing is per user, so it can get pricey.

But in the end, not having to use 3 different systems, and scheduling that is WAY easier makes LiquidPlanner a no-brainer for us.

If you have lots of projects that need to be schedule across many different resources, and you are tired of using MS Project, or cobbling together multiple systems to try and create something useful, give LiquidPlanner a try!

Aaron Brander is the VP of Technology for MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry.

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