In December, I used the quiet time between Christmas and New Years to set up LiquidPlanner for 2012. As an independent consultant, providing project management to a variety of businesses and non-profit organizations, I need to accomplish two major things when planning out my work for the year:
- Filling the pipeline
- Avoiding taking on more than I can handle
LiquidPlanner helps me do both these things and in turn, manages to keep me out of trouble. Here’s a step-by-step description of my process for preparing LiquidPlanner (and myself) for the New Year:
First, I created all the projects and tasks that have to be completed in the coming year. My volunteer commitments were the easiest to model. For example, my Toastmasters group has 90-minute meetings twice a month, so I created a project named “Toastmasters Member 2012.” I used the “Add Multiple Tasks” function to quickly create two dozen tasks to represent those meetings.
Second, I created a package for the year, and then within that package, I added 12 more packages, one for each month.
I then put each task into the appropriate month’s package. It’s my practice to place every LiquidPlanner task into both a folder and a package. In this way, I can estimate both at the project level and at the calendar level.
Planning my projects and tasks for my consulting business is more difficult to model. It’s often true that in December, I don’t know what my big projects will be in the coming year. However, this year I have several ongoing projects as well as some big proposals in the queue. I had used LiquidPlanner to model the proposed projects before I submitted bids, and I already had a good sense of how much time I should budget for those projects. It was simple to plug the appropriate tasks into the months when I believed the work would take place.
And there we have it – by using LiquidPlanner, I saw that the month of June could be quite full if I were to receive all the contracts I’ve bid on. As I negotiate with other clients, I’ll keep this in mind so that I don’t end up overloaded.
LiquidPlanner is an integral part of both my daily work flow and my monthly planning, and I can’t imagine running my consulting practice without it.
With over 20 years of project management experience, Lisa Sieverts specializes in improving organizational project success rates. She owns and manages Facilitated Change, an independent project management consulting firm based in Harrisville, NH. Lisa teaches project management at the Masters degree level at Marlboro College Graduate School and Northeastern University College of Professional Studies. Since 2001, she has been certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a global leader in the development of standards for the practice of project management. Previously, she worked for Hewlett-Packard in California and Idaho as a project manager in the HP Services division.