Author: Alison Clancy

LiquidPlanner Case Study: How Dartmouth-Hitchcock Builds Healthy Project Plans Using LP

Patients in New England rely on the health care system of highly qualified physicians, specialists, and other providers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. In addition to primary care services at local community practices, Dartmouth-Hitchcock patients have access to specialists in almost every area of medicine, as well as world-class research at the Dartmouth Medical School and centers such as the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. With more than 6,500 employees, a number of locations, and a broad mandate, managers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock are responsible for a steady and diverse stream of thousands of projects at any given time.

The Need for Deeper Insight to Meet Deadlines

Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s web content manager, Ryan Newswanger, understands the challenge of managing multiple projects simultaneously across the entire healthcare system. In his role, Newswanger supervises eight content producers, three full-time developers, and dozens of web projects. Ryan’s group began using a content management system and basic project management software to keep track of the various activities in his group. He used this software to manage people’s task lists; however, he quickly realized deeper insights were needed into the entire scope of the projects.

“I lived in constant fear we would miss deadlines and worried whether we actually had the resources to get the work completed on time,” said Newswanger. “One day I realized we had eight major launches in the pipeline and I knew we risked failure if we didn’t get a better solution in place.”

Newswanger’s team decided to use LiquidPlanner during this critical phase to give them more control over their projects. Within a period of four months, the entire team was using the solution to seamlessly track their timeassign and monitor tasks, and check progress against projects. LiquidPlanner immediately provided Newswanger with the necessary insight to determine which deadlines would be met or missed based on the allocated resources.

“LiquidPlanner allowed me to oversee a project more than four months out and anticipate problems well ahead of time,” Newswanger said. “The foreboding feeling around my projects was gone because I had so much more insight and control. Now, when a deadline was no longer feasible, I would simply adjust the scope or add more staff as needed.”

Fostering a Whole New Way of Working

LiquidPlanner has been essential for resource allocation on Newswanger’s team. Recently, Newswanger put together a proposal for a significant intranet project. Using LiquidPlanner, he laid out the entire project and assigned the tasks to various team members. When he presented the proposal to his managers, he showed the exact project milestones and visually demonstrated that the project could be completed with four employees, but not with two. Because of this insight, his managers provided all the resources required for the project to meet the proposed deadlines. During the course of the project, team members referenced their prioritized list of tasks to ensure they were focused on the right priorities. Newswanger relied heavily on LiquidPlanner’s project tracking features to monitor progress. Although the intranet project was very complicated, there were no unforeseen problems along the way because each contributor knew exactly what they needed to deliver and when each task was due.

Previously, a bottleneck existed where project contributors would need to meet with Newswanger to get the information and relevant documents before they could begin their next assignment. Using LiquidPlanner, all the information to help employees move seamlessly from one task to the next is immediately available to them. In many cases, work is happening to drive the project to completion without Newswanger needing to know all the details. This has reduced the number of meetings in the web content group and changed the tone of the meetings Newswanger has with his direct reports. Now, he can focus on managing his staff and their overall professional development, rather than checking on the status of specific tasks.

The project management process for the web content management team at Dartmouth-Hitchcock has dramatically improved, thanks to LiquidPlanner. Newswanger relies on LiquidPlanner to give him deeper insights into the progress of each project and to make forecasts several months or even years out. Other groups at Dartmouth-Hitchcock have noticed Newswanger’s success, and are exploring using LiquidPlanner to improve the management of other technical projects.

Benefits of LiquidPlanner at Dartmouth-Hitchcock:

  • Provides deeper insight into a team’s ability to meet specific deadlines and allows managers to easily make adjustments in resource allocation.
  • Allows team members to be more self-sufficient. Task priority makes it clear what they should be working on, while supporting documentation and communications are always at their fingertips on the task’s Edit Panel.
  • Creates a rich framework for forecasting major project milestones and necessary resources, making it easier to present project requirements to leadership team.
  • Improves ability to manage changes in timing and scope of project, anticipating problems ahead of time.

Wanted: One Rockstar Marketing Manager

We’re hiring like gangbusters at LiquidPlanner, and now we’re on the hunt for someone to join our rockin’ marketing team. But we’re not looking for just any kind of marketer – we want someone who’s been around the block, a passionate professional who’s been hard at work for 5-7 years and has spent time in a B2B company. Are you SaaS-y? Even better.

What would you be doing in this position? The broad answer is this: overseeing our inbound marketing programs and projects, as well as working with the internal LP team and outside agencies. Let’s get a little more specific. You will be:

  • Managing the migration of the LiquidPlanner corporate website/analytics programs from existing platforms to more robust platforms;
  • Researching, segmenting, and profiling high-converting customers and building out marketing programs to better target similar prospects;
  • Overseeing the extension of success in website content and messaging to other channels, including email marketing, advertising, media relations, and social media.

We’re all about looking towards the future, but we want to know about your past work, too. Have you accomplished these things in your career? (Think of this as a checklist before you apply):

  • Driven lead growth through the use of website optimization, SEO, content marketing, PPC, and advertising/promotions;
  • Managed websites from end to end, including design, messaging, information architecture, and user experience;
  • Used website and product analytics to assess risk and gain insights into new opportunities;
  • Seen the inherent connections between various marketing channels and leveraged them to gain market traction and improved overall brand perception and awareness

Got most of those under your belt? Excellent! So, what’s in it for you if you’re hired?

  • A competitive salary
  • Full benefits, including medical, dental, vision, and life insurance coverage
  • 401(k) plan
  • Four weeks paid vacation (trip to Hawaii anyone?)
  • A super casual and fun work environment with people like this:
Staff Pics

To read more about LiquidPlanner and this job description, click here, or to go ahead and apply, send a cover letter and resume to jobs@liquidplanner.com. Feel free to tweet, email, like, and +1 this post if you’re into that sort of thing.

Snack CartAnd just remember, if you take anything away from this blog post, let it be this: free snacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employee Q&A: Liz Rosen, Customer Support and Adoption Manager at LiquidPlanner

Liz Rosen DeskPlease give a warm welcome to the newest member of the LiquidPlanner crew! Liz Rosen recently joined our support team and is looking forward to helping new and existing customers with all of their online project management questions.  To help you get to know Liz a bit, we decided to grill her with a few questions of our own!

Q) Describe a typical day for you at LiquidPlanner.

A) Since I’m still brand new, my typical day is all about learning, learning, learning.  I’m digging in deep right now with LiquidPlanner functionality, where to find answers for our customers, and puzzling over the chess game that is how to best set up a workspace based upon a zillion different business models. That’s what you get when you have a really flexible product!

Q) What makes you passionate about support? 

A) I simply love seeing the lightbulb come on over someone’s head when they figure something out or hearing joy in someone’s voice when they get the answer they needed.  It makes me happy to help make someone else successful at their job.

Q) What are the most popular questions you get from customers? 

A) I’ve been here for a mere three weeks and I don’t think I’ve seen the same question more than once.  Many questions relate to reporting though, and I’m pretty excited about the new features we have coming up, which will help people get the information they want and need to do their jobs better.

Q) What’s your favorite feature in LiquidPlanner? 

A) I adore the “Done” checkbox for that feeling of satisfaction when a task is complete and poof! It disappears from your task list!

Fat SalmonQ) When you’re not at the office, what do you like to do?

A) I’m an avid open-water swimmer and am the race director for the Fat Salmon Open Water Swim.  When I’m not under water, I am a voracious reader.

Q) You know I had to ask this question – what’s the best thing about working at LiquidPlanner, and what are you most looking forward to? 

A) The people, for sure.  It’s fantastic to be part of a team of super smart people who are psyched to come to work each day and do the job that they’re doing.  I’m looking forward to putting all the tasks for “Fat Salmon” into LiquidPlanner and becoming crazy organized for this year’s event!

Q) If you only had one more day on Earth, what would your last meal be? 

A) I’d want to go to a gourmet breakfast buffet.  

Got another question for Liz? Leave a comment or send us a tweet!

LiquidPlanner Case Study: How the University of Dayton Plans for the Future Using LP

University of Dayton LogoThe University of Dayton, one of the top Catholic universities in the nation, has had the same motto for the last 150 years: to learn, lead and serve. And serve they do, with over 10,000 students attending every year. With a diverse student population, the university has made it a priority to encourage students to become well-rounded future leaders by providing them with real world skills.

The Enrollment Office is the department responsible for enrolling students from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. Robert Winger, Director of Enrollment Technology, understands better than anyone about the pressures faced by all departments (including marketing and admissions) to ensure the university establishes a rich and diverse student body.

Effective communication across all enrollment functions and projects is of the utmost importance, which is why Winger chose LiquidPlanner as the office’s go-to-collaboration tool.

The Enrollment Process: A Communications Challenge

The enrollment process at the university is both complex and time intensive. From the initial step of conducting a search to identify the right list of prospective students, through to the final stages of admissions, there’s a lot to be done. Winger soon realized that his team members were working within information silos, and lacked an understanding of one another’s ongoing work. This led him to LiquidPlanner, and he saw the benefits of improved collaboration right away.

Soon, the department was facilitating better communications between team members through deeper insights into various enrollment projects. In addition, LiquidPlanner allowed the executive team to quickly and easily check the status on key projects at the institution while prioritizing tasks across multiple projects.

“The student search process involves many steps and many people. It’s also an 18 month cycle, so things can get very complicated,” said Winger. “With the whole search process in LiquidPlanner, everyone could see who was contributing to their projects at every stage. The streamlined communications immediately saved time for our employees.”

Another reason the university chose LiquidPlanner was because it offered a web-based approach, making project management easier for both IT and department managers.

LiquidPlanner has proven to be so effective at the institution that Sundar Kumarasamy, Vice President for Enrollment Management, mandated that the solution be rolled out across other departments in the institution—specifically to improve communications. By using LiquidPlanner, each team member will know how project decisions will impact other team members, giving complete visibility across the board.

Developing Real World Skills Through Project Management

Students at the university benefit from LiquidPlanner even after they’ve been accepted. The University of Dayton uses LiquidPlanner’s portal functionality to provide students with insights into specific projects. For example, the marketing team may include several students in a core project and then allow students to update various tasks.

“Another thing I love about LiquidPlanner is its ability to help individuals plan their day,” said Winger. “The solution actually supports our highest mission to develop real world leadership skills in our students through its ability to clearly prioritize tasks.”

LiquidPlanner Case Study: Monarch Teaching Technologies Manages Simultaneous Projects and Rapid Change Using LP

John HaprianMeet John Haprian, the Vice President of Development and Operations (and de facto project manager) at Monarch Teaching Technologies. MTT is an Ohio-based small business that provides new, highly visual e-learning solutions designed for children with autism and other special learning needs. Founded in 2007, the company introduced its marquee product, VizZle, three years ago to help teachers, clinicians, and parents provide unique learning experiences for their students.

Monarch is the kind of company where the priorities for any given project can change rapidly and no two projects are alike, and not the kind of company where projects are planned a year or even six months in advance.

Life as Project Manager: Selecting the Right Tool for the Job

John is the man responsible for managing as many as 20 simultaneous projects spanning nine developers located in disparate locations. While he tried using two different project management tools in the past, he quickly realized they both had critical limitations to manage the complexity of his projects. As a result, he began looking for a project management solution that he could use to effectively and quickly prioritize the elements of a project while functioning as a resource management tool for his distributed team.

After evaluating a number of solutions, Haprian chose LiquidPlanner. Avoiding software management costs was important at the small business, so LiquidPlanner was a great choice because it offered an online solution, minimizing hardware and setup costs. However, the reason Haprian ultimately chose LiquidPlanner was because of its unique ability to prioritize the competing demands of multiple projects.  LiquidPlanner also allowed Monarch to maintain its existing and familiar project management methodology that was developed internally, eliminating the need to adopt and learn a whole new approach.

“LiquidPlanner is an invaluable tool for managing limited resources against the changing requirements of our many development projects because it works seamlessly within our current internal processes,” Haprian said. “Now, I have much more insight into the reality of the entire project process, allowing me to address trouble spots and move to the next element of the project more quickly.”

LiquidPlanner gives Haprian the ability to create accurate plans that reflect the real world complexities of balancing multiple projects. For example, he often manages several small projects while overseeing larger ones that sometimes require more than 1,600 hours of development. Haprian realized that fewer unforeseen problems were arising on current components of his projects when he used LiquidPlanner, so he was able to spend more time preparing his team for the next priority on the horizon, rather than putting out fires.

“I find that LiquidPlanner helps me to keep more plates spinning. In fact, we were able to scrap one of our larger applications and rewrite it from the ground up,” Haprian said. “What’s remarkable is that we did it while still working on other projects. That would have been impossible without having a tool like LiquidPlanner to manage our time and resources.”

LiquidPlanner provides unique insights for managing resources

Haprian also uses LiquidPlanner to quickly and effectively manage resources at Monarch.  Every week, Haprian reviews the timesheets of each member of the development team. He considers the number of hours they worked and identifies discrepancies from LiquidPlanner’s projections. He can easily identify where team members are being distracted from their project by other internal demands such as meetings, travel, or other ideas at the company. Haprian can then look forward to the next week – or month – and make adjustments in the software to reflect the team member’s broader role at the company. Making these changes is easy in LiquidPlanner since the solution is designed to represent the realities of today’s complex and ever changing work place.

Why Monarch Teaching Technologies Uses LiquidPlanner:

  • Provides deeper insights into entire project management process for better resource management.
  • Prioritizes competing demands of multiple projects to more accurately reflect the complexities of today’s project development environment.
  • The ability to maintain existing project processes and methodologies established at the company.
  • Avoids expensive project management software acquisition and maintenance costs through online solution offering.

Spotlight On: The Watch Feature

I believe it was a young singer named Rockwell who once said: “I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” Do you ever get that same paranoid feeling when you’re in LiquidPlanner?

Turns out, you may be right: somebody might indeed be keeping an eye on your project plan. And by that, I mean that they’re using the LiquidPlanner “Watch” feature, which allows users in your workspace to be notified when certain tasks or entire projects are updated or changed. See? Less creepy, more collaborative (though Rockwell might disagree).

Who and What Can You Watch?

Any kind of container in LiquidPlanner can be watched. If you decide to watch a package, you will be notified about every individual task involved in that package. If you choose to watch just one singular task, you will only be notified about that one task.
Watch Screenshot

Watch This Way

Put down the binoculars; you won’t be needing them. You can watch projects or tasks in LiquidPlanner by choosing one of two ways:

  1. Select the desired item on the Projects page, and click Collaborate->Watch for Changes. If you’d like to stop watching an item, you can repeat this process and select Stop Watching. You should now stop receiving all email notifications.
  2. Expose the Watch column by utilizing the Custom Columns feature. Go to the Projects page and right-click below the filters tool bar. Select Customize Columns. A list of possible selections will pop up. Check off the “Watched” box and click Save, and you should now see a new Watched column on your Projects page. If you’d like to keep an eye on a certain task, all you have to do is click on the star so that it changes from white to yellow. It’s kind of fun to add a little color to your project plan!

Get Notified

Once you watch an item, you will receive notifications via email of any recent changes made. Make sure you’re properly set up for this by reviewing your personal email integration settings.

Breathe easy, project managers. With LiquidPlanner, the only time you have to worry about being watched at work is when you’re playing Angry Birds instead of preparing that presentation for the next board meeting. Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact support at support@liquidplanner.com.

And The Winner Of Our Valentine’s Day Contest Is…

Candy HeartsYesterday we held a Valentine’s Day contest where participants told us why they loved their jobs. The prize? Ten LiquidPlanner licenses, good for one year. We were excited to receive multiple heart-felt entries and to hear from people who are truly passionate about the work they do. The judges deliberated today about which one best captures that loving feeling, and we’ve made a decision.

The winner of our LiquidPlanner Valentine’s Day contest is…Greg Mort from EAI! You can read his contest-winning entry below. Thanks to everyone who took the time to participate yesterday…we think you rock. 🙂

“The Company I work for is a fast growing technology company that specializing in software development. We went with a liquid planner solution because we are a small company that requires multiple projects running at the same time. We currently could only have one user with liquid planner but having multiple would help us grow our company further.

The software development that we are working with involves rehabilitation with soldiers that come back from the battlefield with Tramatic Brain Injuries (TBI or mTBIs). We have designed, and developed software and hardware solutions to help better recognize mtbi on the battlefield and help with recovery when they get back.

We also have developed a software suite that can be integrated within helicopters to help save lives. Over 50% of all helicopter crashes could be avoided with more knowledge to the pilot. Our system delivers that and we are in the process of integration with the US Government.

We also work with training soldiers and helping soldiers have better situational awareness during training and in the battlefield

We also have developed a suite of software that can help autistic children and make them feel more comfortable.

ALL these projects are on going and are each made easier with liquid planner, allowing us to have more licenses would be absolutely amazing and help us get our products to market quicker

Thank you for your consideration”

Congratulations, Greg!

Be Our Valentine And Win 10 LiquidPlanner Licenses

V Day PostOn Valentine’s Day, it’s all about showing that special someone in your life that they’re, well, special. Here at LiquidPlanner, we’d like to think that our customers are our Valentines, which is why we want to give one of you a knock out Valentine’s Day gift this year.

It’s no secret that we love our jobs at LiquidPlanner. We have a passionate team, an innovative product, a dog-friendly office, and a snack cart that just won’t quit. Now we want to know why YOU love YOUR job.

Maybe you have a great boss, or your company has a dedicated Pinball Machine Room (invite us over!), or your office is a hammock on a beach (again – invite us over!). Maybe you love that your team does something good in the community or for its employees. We want to hear about it!

Just leave us a comment on this blog post telling us why you have the best job around, and you could win 10 LiquidPlanner licenses for your team for one year. The answer that gets our hearts racing the most will win, so get creative. This prize can go to a new or existing customer, and it’s just the type of gift that might make your boss love you (even more).

This could be the start of a life-long relationship with your favorite online project management software (and could make you think about February 14th in a whole new way).

*Terms and conditions apply. Contact sales@liquidplanner.com for details.

February Release: Google Calendar Integration and More

Over the weekend, we rolled out our first 2012 LiquidPlanner update. You know what this means: it’s time to introduce some new features! These particular features have been frequently requested by our customers for some time, which makes this reveal even more exciting:

Google Calendar Integration

Though calendar integration was a feature before this, Google Calendar was not supported.  And you can’t leave Google out of all the fun, can you?  Now, you can integrate LiquidPlanner with Google Calendar via the iConnect button on your My Tasks Page:

Enhanced Icons for Attached Files and Comments

Google Calendar 1

A quick glance at the left margin will now tell you if there are files, comments, or both attached to a plan item.

Google Calendar 2 Blurred

Workspace Owners & Co-Owners Can Edit Member User Names

Enhanced Icons

This is particularly useful when you need to correct the problem of more than one member with the same user name. Or, perhaps you want to change all user names to a standard format. Workspace owners and co-owners can now do this via the Edit Profile link on the Member List.

Workspace OwnersAlso good to note: don’t upset your workspace owner. You might wake up one day to find that your LiquidPlanner user name has been mysteriously changed to “Sir Didimus Fuzzytail.”

Questions or concerns? Drop us a comment, say hello on Facebook or Twitter, or email support@liquidplanner.com.

The Ultimate Project Manager Playlist

I am one of those people who needs to have music on all the time. Every day deserves its own soundtrack, right? Maybe you enjoy listening to classical music on your commute to work, or you prefer rocking out to 80s hair metal while finishing up those spreadsheets at your desk. Even the most mundane things can be improved with the right background music.

That’s why I’ve come up with the Ultimate Project Manager Playlist. How did these songs make the cut? I had strict criteria for each song:

  • How hard does it rock? The scale went from 1 (“elevator music”) to 11 (“melts faces”).
  • Whether this was demonstrated in the song title or in the content of the lyrics, the song had to have something to do with the project management profession.
  • The song is just really fun/hilarious/great to dance to. The work day can already feel much longer than eight hours; what’s the harm in listening to a little Jimmy Buffett to spice things up?

Your suggestions on Twitter and Facebook were also a huge help – keep them coming! So without further ado, let’s get this party started:

1. Michael Jackson – Working Day and Night

2. Bachman Turner Overdrive – Taking Care of Business

3. Blue Oyster Cult – Deadline

4. Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

5. The Beatles – Help!

6. Billy Joel – She’s Right On Time

7. Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett – It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere

8. Puff Daddy – It’s All About the Benjamins

9. Europe – The Final Countdown

10. Blink 182 – All The Small Things

How did I do? Did I miss anything obvious? Leave a comment and let me know!