Author: Alison Clancy

Employee Q&A: Mark Holton, Software Engineer at LiquidPlanner

Mark QA Marathon

While we obviously think that everyone on our team is pretty special, Mark Holton is that person who everyone wants to work with, not only because he brings such a warm, positive vibe to the office every day, but because he’s great at his job and always has a kind word. Read on and get to know why we love having Mark on our team:

Q) So, what do you do at LiquidPlanner?

A) I’m a software engineer, working on developing the LiquidPlanner web application. Mainly this involves writing code in Ruby, JavaScript, PostgreSQL, among other languages and technologies.  We all wear many hats here, which is fun. As a software developer, we all take turns on Operations too, which is great to learn about and be exposed to Linux, Puppet and Nagios.

Q) What makes you passionate about your job? 

A) This is a great team with great goals and leadership. From one side of the company to the other, everyone is very good at what they do, and there’s something to learn from everyone.  Having the opportunity to be involved with great teams or special people does not happen everyday. Besides being passionate about software work in general, it’s motivating to do your best in that sort of environment, while building a product that helps teams do real work.

Q) Two of your favorite hobbies are golf and running. If you could only do one or the other for the rest of your life, which would you pick?  

A) I haven’t been serious about golf for many years, despite being very serious about it earlier in life (played one round of golf recently after a two year hiatus). Running in races and marathons is relatively new to me, but I love it and hope to do it the rest of my life. Despite some great memories in competitive golf in college and as a junior, I think I’d pick running!

Q) Since you’ve started working here, what was your favorite day? What was your least favorite?

A) Least favorite would be any day where there’s a bug in code I’ve written that I should have written a test for, or a day where I haven’t communicated an important point patiently or effectively in a meeting.

I think so far, my favorite day was after we released LP3, and we had a company barbecue at Liz’s house to celebrate. It was neat to be a part of a big release, and a great sign of good things to come (plus I love grilling food!).

Mark QA GolfQ) What’s your favorite feature in LiquidPlanner?

A) This is more of a set of features than one in particular, but I like the closed loop between the project planning and analytics that LiquidPlanner provides. Being very goal oriented, it’s motivating to try and hit date targets and exceed estimates on work assigned to me. Having the ability to get a pulse on my work in the context of the overall plan, while evaluating work completed over sections of time or projects, gives me and my colleagues a great perspective.

Q) If you could work in any other profession, what would you choose? 

A) I’d aspire to be Iron Chef Mark Holton. Bobby Flay, I’m lookin’ at you, kid.

Q) Go to karaoke song?

A) I don’t do much karaoke, but I have had to sing to my 20-month-old son. If put on the spot in public, I’d politely decline and order a beer! But if forced, maybe “I Can’t Stand Losing You” by The Police.

Q) What’s your favorite saying?

A) I have a lot…but ones I’ve thought of lately are “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may” (in a poem by Robert Herrick), and since it’s football season “Effort is between you, and you, and nobody else. Every day is a new day. Every moment is a new moment.” (By Ray Lewis).

Web Design and Development Company Increases Portfolio 300% with LiquidPlanner

Mike Schwengel HeadshotIn Minneapolis, Minnesota you’ll find BestHive, a thriving web design and development company. Known as “The Hive,” BestHive’s team of creative and technical talent is led by the company’s co-founder, Mike Schwengel. Since he and his partner Artem Kuznetsov started the company in 2011, BestHive’s client and project portfolio has grown by about 300%.  Both attribute a great deal of the company’s success to LiquidPlanner. As the company began to grow, Schwengel soon realized the need for a sophisticated system that could manage the complexities of conducting multiple projects  simultaneously, establish realistic timelines for each project, and produce insightful reports to monitor progress.

Since adopting LiquidPlanner, Schwengel has also increased BestHive’s staff from one to ten highly technical employees based in Pakistan and Minneapolis, without one hiccup. LiquidPlanner allows users to manage multiple clients and complex projects across continents in a single integrated view, providing maximum flexibility in grouping projects and tasks. Using LiquidPlanner, Schwengel’s team now comfortably manages ten concurrent projects, many of which are very large and multifaceted.

“Thanks to LiquidPlanner, we have an awesome platform in place to handle all the intricacies of our business today,” says Schwengel. “I feel confident it will grow with us to meet all our future design and development initiatives, too.”

Finding the Right Solution

When the company was much smaller, Schwengel used a rudimentary project management solution which was adequate for simple projects. As the company began to add more developers to “The Hive” to accommodate more projects and the projects became more complex, troubles arose: deadlines were missed, key assets could not be easily located, and Schwengel became increasingly aware that members of the team were not communicating with each other effectively. Stress levels were high for the entire team in those days. Schwengel knew he needed to improve overall organization and streamline the processes related to the company’s projects to ensure the future success of BestHive.

Schwengel and his lead project manager developed a very specific list of criteria for project management needs and looked at a dozen different solutions on the market. When they found LiquidPlanner, Schwengel says he realized they had found ”project management mecca.”

“With LiquidPlanner, I know all the details of our projects will be addressed, and potential bottlenecks will be handled before they become a problem.” Schwengel says. “I also know we are much more organized as a result of LiquidPlanner’s approach and I can say it has actually made us better at doing our work.”

Besthive Map

The Value of Improved Collaboration and Customer Service

An immediate benefit of using LiquidPlanner at BestHive was the ability to create a virtual workspace for individual projects where employees can discuss and document the work they’re doing at any time in a transparent, fully collaborative environment. Collaboration was particularly important for Schwengel, since his employees work remotely in a different time zone. He also appreciated LiquidPlanner’s ability to keep all documentation and communications related to each project in one central hub. BestHive employees use LiquidPlanner exclusively for project-related communications which has greatly reduced the company’s email burden. Schwengel can quickly view the work that has been completed on any project by checking his LiquidPlanner notifications each morning and his team members can easily manage their own workflow, staying focused on the tasks at hand. Schwengel has found LiquidPlanner to be such an effective communication hub that time consuming meetings to assign tasks or update managers are now a thing of the past.

In addition to LiquidPlanner’s impact on BestHive’s collaboration and productivity, Schwengel has been excited to see another, unexpected benefit from the program:  increased customer satisfaction levels. When he sets up a project using Function Requirement Specifications in LiquidPlanner, it automatically lays out each component of the job and establishes a timeline in a highly visual format. This makes it much easier for Schwengel to walk through a project with clients and set meaningful expectations for every component including completion dates, budgets, and required resources. LiquidPlanner’s ability to provide regular or ad hoc overviews of progress in an easy-to-understand graphical format enables BestHive and their clients to be lockstep with each other through the lifecycle of the project, increasing satisfaction on both sides.

Benefits of LiquidPlanner at BestHive:

  • Accelerated business growth by improving overall project management and an ability to manage multiple projects of increasing size and complexity
  • Enhanced collaboration among team members and managers by having all documents, tasks and comments in one location
  • Improved customer satisfaction by visually laying out the components of each project and easily producing reports

Non-Reasons Why We’re in the Running for Best Workplace in Washington

Not Our JetNon-reason; noun. The opposite of a basis, cause, belief or fact. Anything but a reason.

On Thursday, our team will be at Safeco Field, running around the bases in celebration of our nomination as one of Washington’s Best Workplaces at the annual awards ceremony. All of our employees were given a survey about the kind of work environment LiquidPlanner provides, and after bribing them to lie (we kid!), our nomination was announced shortly after. We are honored to be included in such a wonderful group of Northwest companies, whether or not we come out on top (who doesn’t like to win, though?).

Not Our PartyIf we don’t end up taking one of the top spots, here are some things that might have worked against us:

  1. We don’t have an espresso machine in the lobby. (Heck, we don’t really even have a lobby).  Nor do we have a hot cocoa dispenser, a cotton candy maker, or our own Starbucks.
  2. We don’t have a dedicated gym on site. Instead, you can find our marketing team doing odd dance moves to dubstep right at their desks. Our senior management has also been known to do cartwheels down the hallway. That counts as exercise, right?
  3. We don’t have covered parking (or recently, enough parking spots for everyone at the company). We try to carpool or WFH (work-from-home) as much as possible.
  4. We don’t host big fancy gatherings. We do get our party on at the holidays, but other than that, we like a good old potluck lunch or a couple of six-packs to celebrate our wins.
  5. No pool table, foosball table, or Xbox to be found.  Our conference room is nicknamed “The Thunderdome”…that sounds kind of like a stadium, right?

Not Our CoffeeIf we were in the running for slickest place to work, we’d definitely lose. And that’s okay by us. The things that we value as a team in the workplace come down to the Three S’s: Stability, Support, and Super-awesomeness. We have a great team. We work hard and play hard. And we’re here for our customers and for each other. At the end of the day, I would pick that kind of office over one with a Yoga Room any day of the week.

If you see us at the event on Thursday, please say hello.  We’d love to meet you!

Using LiquidPlanner to Teach Project Management at Marlboro College

LogoMarlboro College is situated on 300 wooded acres just outside of Marlboro, Vermont and is best known for its student-centered approach to teaching. This means that the student’s individual learning experience is emphasized over a generic curriculum, with the goal of helping the school’s 300 students think clearly while learning independently.

This real world approach to learning is evident in the Master of Science in Information Technologies (MSIT) program where Lisa Sieverts is a professor. Sieverts has taught the program’s required project management course to more than 100 students and has been certified by the Project Management Institute as a project management professional. Sieverts is also the owner of Facilitated Change, a consulting firm specializing in project management and training. Her work experience and credentials make Sieverts uniquely qualified to teach project management at Marlboro, where she can draw upon her own personal work experiences as she guides her students though the course.

GS Building Park Sun

A Search for “Real World” Project Management

In 2008, Sieverts recognized she needed a better project management system to help her students understand the key concepts of project management. While she had used Microsoft Project extensively in the past, Sieverts realized that the software didn’t allocate resources accurately and could not provide insights into estimation – two vital components for effective project management. After an extensive search for a better tool, Sieverts selected LiquidPlanner and has never looked back.

“From my very first course, LiquidPlanner was 100% successful for my goal of having students learn about project management.  It was a way for students to learn big concepts without having to learn software. The UI is pretty self-explanatory. It’s hard for them to make mistakes.”

“LiquidPlanner has become an integral part of my course because it provides an easy way for students to truly comprehend essential project management principles,” said Sieverts. “For example, range estimation is critical for managing any project. When students see ranges automatically visualized in LiquidPlanner, a light bulb goes on in their heads and they understand it immediately.”

Sieverts also likes LiquidPlanner’s ability to allocate resources effectively, setting realistic work schedules that limit a team member’s workload to eight hours per day. This “automatic leveling” functionality gives LiquidPlanner a distinct advantage over other project management software, which typically allows a single team member to be overbooked, sometimes exponentially. With automatic leveling, LiquidPlanner’s projections are more realistic because they are grounded in real world parameters such as the actual availability of resources.

Students Build Their Own Projects

As part of the course, students are given six months to plan, execute and finalize one of their own projects using LiquidPlanner so that they can learn in detail about process improvement projects. While most students are focused on web development projects, some choose construction, process improvement, or even volunteer projects. Students begin by articulating their project’s goal, the customer need, and various deliverables, as well as required resources and project timelines.

Many students say their projects become much clearer to them once they enter project-related information into LiquidPlanner. For example, LiquidPlanner’s ability to manage estimations and visually display project parameters allows students to make quick informed decisions about schedule and scope of their projects. When their project information is entered into LiquidPlanner, Sievert is able to access the system and makes comments directly in each student’s workspace. This improves collaboration by providing timely, individualized feedback exactly where it’s needed, reducing confusion while receiving senior-level insight within the context of the overall project.

To see this in action: One student used LiquidPlanner for her master’s thesis project. Using the software, she created a database that interfaced with an antiques website to inventory and manage its contents. The inventory was then sold by a high-end auction company that specialized in theatrical costuming. As part of the project, the student programmed a website to display pictures of the antiques and make them searchable by several attributes, including by auction number. The student used LiquidPlanner to handle the entire back end and management side of the project. She did a “deliverable oriented” schedule using projects and sub-folders, and then used packages to put the tasks in chronological order. With LiquidPlanner, the student was able to complete her project by the deadline: graduation.

Applying Classroom Benefits to Business

Immediately recognizing the value of using LiquidPlanner with her students, Sieverts began using the software in her own project management consultancy. Today, she enters each of her projects into her LiquidPlanner workspace and also uses the solution to collaborate with a number of her clients on their projects. Today, Sieverts relies on LiquidPlanner’s resource allocation capabilities to allow her to forecast into the future and make intelligent business decisions.

“As a consultant, it’s hard to turn work away, but I’ve learned the line between not enough work and too much work is paper thin,” says Sieverts. “Before I take on a project, I always consult my LiquidPlanner workspace to see if I have bandwidth to take on more work within a specific time frame. In the end, I do better work for my clients because I only accept the projects I can handle.”

Benefits of LiquidPlanner at Marlboro College

  • Offers intuitive solution and visualization of key project management concepts such as range estimation and resource allocation.
  • Allows users to make more informed decisions about scope of work and schedules.
  • Provides automatic resource leveling to avoid over-booking of team members, ensuring more accurate and realistic projections.
  • Allows managers and teachers to provide feedback directly into the workspace, encouraging and enhancing collaboration.

Click here for more on our Educational and Non-Profit Pricing and learn how you can get 15 free seats.

Webinar Recap: Why You and Your Team Should Be Tracking Time

So. You missed our time tracking webinar on Tuesday. Was it because you were short on TIME? Waiting until the last MINUTE? Trying to beat the CLOCK? (I’m on a roll here!).

In any case, we want to make sure that you don’t miss out on learning just how time tracking can benefit you and your team and why LiquidPlanner is the perfect online project management software to help you succeed at this. So here’s what you missed:

Why Track Time?

We actually gave you lots of good reasons in an earlier blog post, but in our webinar, we focused on the bottom line: time tracking data is the best way to see the number of hours associated with your tasks and projects, as well as the dollar value of those hours.  That data is invaluable when you’re estimating new projects, making a plea for additional resources, or trying to figure out exactly how your time is being spent.

To realize the full benefits of time tracking in LiquidPlanner, you’ll want to use rate sheets to drive dollar valuations of your hours, and activities to categorize your hours by type and billable status.  Here are just a few examples of the valuable metrics LiquidPlanner calculates for you based on your time-tracking data:

Sample Time Entries Export:

Timesheet Export TT Webinar

Sample project report:

Project Report Graph TT Webinar

Curious Minds Wanted to Know

At the end of each of our webinars, we hold a Q&A session – here are just some of the questions that were asked during those 15 minutes this week. Take a look – you might learn something from these up to the SECOND inquiries (ok, I’ll stop…for now):

What are some examples of activities that people create?

Classification by type of work is pretty common, for example: design, coding, testing, etc.  Another popular use is job codes, especially for organizations that use time tracking data for billing and payroll.

Do the rate sheets support any currencies besides US Dollars?

They do. Your rate sheets will automatically use the default currency that is set for your workspace on the Setting > Workspace Settings page.

Can you have more than one timer running at a time?

No, you can’t. If you have a timer running, and then you start a timer on another task, it will stop that initial timer. That time will be held for you until you get back to it to apply it, or maybe to restart that timer.

On your timesheet, what’s the checkmark in the lefthand column all about?

That’s the pinned checkmark. Pinned tasks stay on your timesheet for all subsequent time periods until you unpin them. When you add a task manually to your timesheet, the assumption is that the task is an exception case, and LiquidPlanner isn’t sure how long you’re going to want it on your timesheet, so we’ll pin it. Then it’s up to you to unpin that task if you want it to drop off of subsequent timesheets.

More questions? Check out all of our Help Guide articles on Time Tracking or watch our webinar slides on SlideShare:

Employee Q&A: Tyler Roehmholdt, Online Marketing Manager at LiquidPlanner

Tyler ProfileTyler has only been a part of team for just under a month now, but we figured that it’s never too early to make a proper introduction! Take a second to get to know Tyler, and feel free to leave him a warm welcome in the comments!

Q) So, what do you do at LiquidPlanner?

A) In a nutshell, I focus on compelling people to click buttons and fill out forms. To be a bit more verbose, I’m responsible for optimizing the user experience around LiquidPlanner’s website, including search engine optimization, content development, conversion rate optimization and making use of quantitative and qualitative analysis data to inform design and development decisions.

Q) What makes you passionate about online marketing? 

A) The psychology behind a click is deeply interesting to me, because it involves so much more than a green button vs. a blue one. It’s an entire narrative, whereby the prospect has a desire, they seek out that desire, they meet challenges along the way, and eventually they achieve their goal and leave a satisfied (or not so satisfied) customer. What makes it so fascinating is that, as a marketer, I can look at every point along this path, and learn how to make it faster, easier and more compelling for a prospect to realize his or her desires, which is a win for everybody.

Q) What outside projects or hobbies are you passionate about? 

A) I am deeply interested in startup culture and following the latest technology innovations, especially around education and online learning. The idea that future generations will be able to gain access to Ivy League courses and lectures on a whim excites the heck out of me, because with such an open learning environment, advancements in every field will take off like we’ve never seen before.

Q) Since you’ve started working here, what was your favorite day? What was your least favorite?

A) The first day on the job is always my favorite and least favorite, it’s when everything is unfamiliar and your brain is in full-absorption mode; it’s exciting and terrifying all at once. Plus, unpacking an Apple Thunderbolt Display is always a religious experience for me.

Q) What’s your favorite feature in LiquidPlanner?

A) I’m supposed to say all of them, right? Honestly though, it’s the commenting and community functionality of the software that really makes it stand out. Project management doesn’t turn a lot of heads, mostly due to the fact that it’s oftentimes a spreadsheet or a Gantt chart staring back at you on the screen. The commenting feature in LiquidPlanner humanizes the entire process, bringing you into the project and turning a very exclusive concept into a very inclusive experience.

Q) We know that you’re a huge Queen fan. If you could only listen to one of their songs for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

A) It would have to be “In the Lap of the Gods” from their album Sheer Heart Attack. I really enjoy the vocals, sweeping piano arpeggios and the overall ballad-like composition of the song.

Q) If you could work in any other profession, what would you choose? 

A) A commercial or landscape architect. Architecture has always been a big interest of mine, especially the design of office spaces and the way they can interact with both natural and urban environments.

Q) What’s your favorite word?

A) Succinct. Sometimes I am, sometimes I am not.

Customer Q&A: Tim Hughes, Airways New Zealand

Airways NZ LogoSometimes, we like to hand over the blog to our customers to see what they have to say about LiquidPlanner and their project management style. Today, we’re going all the way to the southern hemisphere to chat with Tim Hughes, Director of Solutions and Services at Airways New Zealand. Read on to see how our conversation went, while we continue to ignore the phone bill that resulted from this call:

LiquidPlanner: Can you talk a little bit about Airways New Zealand?

Tim Hughes: Airways New Zealand is an air traffic control provider for New Zealand. It’s a state-owned enterprise and acts like a private company, even though the government owns it. The law prevents government ministers from actually directing the company. There is a board of directors and a profit motive that acts like a profit company. Airways NZ Control Room

LP: How long have you been using LiquidPlanner?

TH: About four years. Steve McConnell published an article in the beginning of 2007 or 2008 that got my attention and put me onto LiquidPlanner. Immediately after I read that article, our team started using LP, and we became so embedded after a month that we had to continue. Now we have about 30 people using it.

LP: Were you using anything before LiquidPlanner as far as project management software?

TH: We used a variety of solutions, like Microsoft Project, for small projects, and also a corporate-scale resource management program covering the whole company.

LP: What was the main thing you were looking for?

TH: I particularly wanted the uncertainty management that LiquidPlanner provides. I wanted a project planning solution that would give me earned value reporting and would let me manage uncertainty to see where the risks lie. I also needed a reporting function.

LP: Can you talk about how you introduced the tool to your team? How did that process go? 

TH: I discovered LiquidPlanner while everyone was on vacation, studied it, and decided that I wanted it. When they all got back from vacation, I told them about LiquidPlanner, and it took them well under an hour to decide they wanted it, too. We put the trial licenses in place and ran with it for the first three weeks. I stressed that everyone fill in their timesheets, and we settled work patterns and got the operating rules. It was important that employees were filling in their timesheets and saying what they were actually doing. We could then check the estimates to see that they were true. After that, the reporting in LiquidPlanner showed us how we were doing and how to keep our projects on track. That was all in the first three weeks. We were able to get everyone on board in a month. Everyone was totally receptive.

LP: Did people stick to the time sheet reporting?

TH: I think that in our case, the product worked exceptionally well because of our team dynamics and the way we work. A project management tool can’t solve the disabilities in a team or project. You need to know how to get stuff done in the first place. Because we are a safety organization, we have a blame free environment and a just culture. Regardless of the outcomes, it is safe for people to report what is going on and it is an absolute requirement. Since people aren’t afraid to report, it makes filling time sheets easy. Sometimes people get worried about things they shouldn’t be worried about, but LiquidPlanner supports the organization process. We can change the plan in LiquidPlanner and do things in a different order, de-risk the process, and re-sequence the work

LP: What are you working on now? Any big projects in LiquidPlanner?

TH: Working with OEMs and also enhancements to our own systems for improvement of service.

LP: What is your favorite feature besides estimations?

TH: Resource allocation.

LP: In terms of ROI or productivity, how much have you saved by using LiquidPlanner? Any stats or figures?

TH: I can tell you a story. We had a team working on a project, and when they put the plan and estimates into LiquidPlanner and produced the project plan, it was two times the budget and two times too late! This typically happened with this team because they didn’t have adequate support for their planning. They knew what needed to be done, so we told them to simplify and to change the tasks. We put the simplified tasks into LiquidPlanner and saw the time estimates change. We changed the job and used the tool to execute the project and keep track of how we were doing as we went along. The end result was a fixed time training requirement and a deadline that couldn’t be moved. LiquidPlanner transformed the way they performed and acted and changed what they did to meet the deadlines. You don’t argue with the estimates. You change your plan so that it will work. We actually ended up finishing the project a few days early.

LP: How much do you think it saved you?

TH: In that 24 hour period when we moved the project from being over-budget and over-schedule to on-time, the ROI was phenomenal. LiquidPlanner was so effective at being flexible. We wouldn’t have had the same visibility with other planning tools. This was a small scale project and the ROI was 30% of the project budget. LiquidPlanner paid for its entire licensing fee in one day.

Webinar Recap: Using LiquidPlanner to Collaborate with Your Team

For those of you who missed our webinar on Tuesday about how to use LiquidPlanner for easy collaboration, don’t fret! Here are the major points we went over in the webinar, along with some resources that will help you understand each feature a bit better:

1. Watching

Ah, “Watching.” It’s one of those LiquidPlanner features that can tend to fly under the radar. Though it may sound just a tad creepy, “watching” a task or container (projects, sub-folders or packages) will allow you to keep tabs on things in the project plan that aren’t assigned to you, but may be important to you in other ways. When you watch an item, you will receive email notifications when it is updated. Binoculars are not included.

Watching Project

For More: Read the Help Guide Article or Check Out This Blog Post

2. Comments

In today’s world, you might have one team member in Boston, one in Seattle, and another in London. With LiquidPlanner, collaborating across the pond is simple with Comments. Designed in the style of Twitter, you can add comments to any plan item and address them to specific team members just by adding the @ symbol in front of your team member’s user name.  Comments can include any rich-text content, including images. When a comment is added to a plan item, the owner of that item, plus anybody specifically addressed in the comment, will get an email notification.

Workspace Comments

For More: Read the Help Guide Article

3. Details Page

The beauty is in the details, right? In LiquidPlanner, all of the details come together on the Details page, which includes a Description, any attached Comments, Notes, Links and Documents. Another beautiful thought: everything related to your project is all in one place, which means you’ll never have to frantically search through your Inbox again for that spreadsheet or those notes from the meeting.

For More: Read the Help Guide Article or Watch the Video

4. Files

In LiquidPlanner, you can attach files directly to any item in your plan.

Document Upload Box

Files can be attached from a local directory, or attached directly from your Box account. Box’s advanced document management features include desktop sync, document versioning, document permissions, and more. Now you can leverage them right from your workspace!

For More: Read the Help Guide Article

5. Email Integration

LiquidPlanner can turn your inbox into an ally instead of an enemy. By using our Email Integration feature, you can:

  • Send email from LiquidPlanner to others on your team requesting task or timesheet updates
  • Receive Email Notifications about upcoming tasks and recent changes
  • Reply to Email Notifications
  • Create new tasks via email and much more

For More: Read the Help Guide Article or Check Out This Blog Post

6. Project Portals

Like the “Watch” feature, Project Portals are a customer favorite that doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. They’re secure project “mini-sites” designed for collaborating with people outside of your workspace (this could be contractors, clients, etc). Portals can be used to share documents or project updates, comments and more – all in one great-looking view.

For More: Read the Help Guide Article or Check Out This Blog Post

Collaboration FAQ

Quizzical

Now that we’ve gone over the main points made in the webinar, are you feeling like a Collaborator Appreciator or do you still have questions? That’s great if you’re in the latter category, because our customers had some questions on Tuesday as well, as you can see from some of the actual submissions below:

Q: Do you have any integration with Google Docs or Dropbox?

A: Not at this time, but we will continue to consider integrations based on customer demand and compatibility with LiquidPlanner.

Q:  Can you address comments to teams?

A:  Yes, and you can also address comments to everyone in the workspace using the @All convention.

Q: Can I see a summary of all comments for a specific project?

A:  Yes, just select the project and click “Comments” in the view gallery.  In the same way, you can view all files for the project by clicking “Files” in the view gallery.

Q:  My client sent me an email related to an existing LP task.  Can I associate that email to the task in LP?

A: Yes, you can forward the email to the task’s LP address.  The content of your email will land as a comment on that task.

Q: When I receive a comment notification via email, do I have to go find that comment in LP in order to reply to it?

A: No, the email notification will have a Reply link in the body, or you can just use your email Reply function. Either way, your reply email will land as a new comment on that task in LP.

Getting Ready for a Conference? Here’s Four Things You Should Know

Liz Seattle Slide 1

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“Conferences are so easy to get ready for!”
— No One

As you may have noticed, LiquidPlanner has been hitting the conference circuit hard this year, most recently in London at the Social Workplace Conference. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: preparing for a conference is a LOT of work, whether you’re exhibiting, giving a talk, or attending. After presenting at a few different conferences, both in the US and abroad, we’re finally getting the hang of things (I think). Using London as an example, let me share with you a few things you should remember when planning for a conference:

1) Expect things to take 2x longer than they normally would.

Here’s the actual itinerary and estimated times (this is LiquidPlanner, after all) that were written down during the planning stages for SWCONF:

  • Arrival in London: 12 PM Tues
  • Pre-Conference Prep: 3 PM Tues
  • Customer Meetup: 5-7 PM Tues
  • Lunch on Wednesday: Yes!
  • Time to Assemble Booth: 30 min
  • Time to Disassemble Booth: None
 Here’s what actually happened:
  • Arrival in London: 3 PM Tues
  • Pre-Conference Prep: 9 AM Wednesday
  • Customer Meetup: 5:30 – 8:30 PM Tues
  • Lunch on Wednesday: No!
  • Time to Assemble Booth: 1 hour
  • Time to Disassemble Booth: 2 hours

Between a delayed flight, not eating for eight hours straight on Wednesday, and taking what felt like years to disassemble the booth once the conference was over, we were quite “knackered,” as the Brits say, by the end of the trip (and hungry…oh, so hungry).

Lesson Learned: When in doubt, give yourself plenty of time to do even the smallest of tasks when in conference mode. You never know what could happen, especially when you’re abroad. Which brings us to Lesson #2…

2) Research transportation.

I cannot stress this enough. Transportation is key when sticking to a usually packed conference schedule. Once you’re late for one meeting or keynote speech, you’ll be late for everything for the rest of the day.

Specific things to keep in mind when researching how to get around:

  • Make sure you’ve got the right currency on hand. At one point, we tried to pay a London cab driver in Euros, but he demanded to be paid in pounds. So remember: whatever comes out of the ATM might not be automatically usable. The more you know!
  • Train doors don’t always open by themselves. Once you stop laughing, let us defend ourselves by saying that trains in Seattle have automatic doors that open at every stop, without any effort on the part of the passengers. Turns out that some trains in London require the pushing of a button. By the time this was figured out, our LP staff members were miles outside the city, armed with monitors and clad in full business suits in 80 degree weather. You do not want this to happen to you. Trust us.
  • Avoid express trains. So how did our staff end up miles outside of the London after the train button fiasco? Because once they missed that one stop, they flew by four OTHER stops on an express train. Don’t get us wrong: express trains are convenient, when you know what you’re doing. Use with caution.

Lesson Learned: Get current currency, find the button, and beware express trains.

3) A conference is a great time, but the real party is happening on Twitter.

The conversations that happened on Twitter while we were at SWCONF were amazing, to say the least. Our staff introduced themselves to key contacts, arranged in person meetings, and got great feedback on the talk we gave on Social Project Management (which was mostly positive – whew!).

Lesson Learned: If you’re planning on attending a conference, make sure you have a presence on Twitter. Networking isn’t just for the conference floor anymore.

4) Leave enough time to hang out with your customers in the area.

We got to meet with a handful of our UK-based customers while we were in town, and each team we met with was more supportive and willing to give us feedback than the last. We’d especially like to give a special nod to Kevin Crump and Nick Watson, who attended the conference with us, helped us set up our booth, helped us disassemble our booth, and put up with us for an entire day. You guys rock.

Lesson Learned: Your customers care about your product – leave plenty of time in your schedule to chat with them. They’re probably really awesome.

No matter what happens during your next conference, as long as you follow our tips and “expect the unexpected,” you’ll be fine. You’re going to get to travel, meet some amazing folks, and hey, even if things go down in flames (figuratively, we hope), you’ll get a lesson and a great story out of it.

Have anything to add to this list? Tweet us your tips @liquidplanner or leave us a post on Facebook.

Social Workplace Conference: London, Here We Come!

London LP

In this edition of “Where in the World is LiquidPlanner?,” we find ourselves in merry ol’ England! Blimey! (We don’t take any responsibility for the number of English slang words that make their way into this blog post, no matter how incorrectly they’re used).

As of next week, a few members of the LiquidPlanner crew will be crossing the pond to attend the 2012 Social Workplace Conference. SWCONF focuses on the impact of social media and social software on internal communications and workforce collaborations. Now that sounds like our cup of tea.

At LiquidPlanner, we live and breathe collaboration, inside and outside of the office. We want you to be able to follow us every step of the way as we take on Londontown. Here’s a peak at our itinerary and how you can be a part of the big event:

The Conference

The Social Workplace Conference is going to be a blast. Here’s a little blurb from the conference website:SWConf Logo

“#SWCONF will bring together Senior Executives to discuss the impact of Social Media in Workplace. The conference will also explore the growing applications of Social Software for Internal Communications & Workforce Collaborations.”

We’re excited to hear the talks, to meet new people, and of course, to EAT! But you know what the best part of the conference is going to be? Our very own Liz Pearce will be speaking about the ways Social Project Management can improve Enterprise Collaboration (a topic that we know quite a bit about). You won’t want to miss this! Make sure you say hello to her if you’re on location, or tweet her at @lizprc.

UL Gallery LN 2012 Veg Tart

The Customer Meetup

We say this in every blog post, but I think it bears repeating: We love our customers. That’s why we’re putting on a happy hour just for our UK users. We know you Brits fancy a pint or two every now and again, and the next round is on us. Meet us at The Prince Regent on Tuesday, May 22nd, where you’ll get to meet some of the people behind LiquidPlanner, PLUS you’ll get an exclusive look at what updates are coming next. To RSVP, email Jennifer Ash at jen@liquidplanner.com.

Has this blog post got you thinking about attending the conference yourself? Just leave a comment telling us what else we should see and do in London once we get there, and we will send you our 20% registration code.

The countdown to London has begun, and we hope you’ll join us for the ride!