Author: Olivia Millard

Team Essentials: Keeping Your LiquidPlanner Schedule Up to Date

In my previous article, I discussed how easy it is to reprioritize your work in LiquidPlanner. This week, I’ll show you how to maintain your schedule and keep it up to date.

Now that LiquidPlanner has created our schedule for us and we’ve started chipping away at our project work, we need to be sure the schedule is up-to-date. Then, when you come into work tomorrow, LiquidPlanner will give you current information, not yesterday’s plan.

Here are three ways to make sure this happens.

1. Track Your Time.

Each day, log the amount of time you spent on a project and note the progress made each day. When you’ve spent 5 hours on a task, let LiquidPlanner know. This will let the system—and more importantly, your team—know you’re on track with your work.

2. Update Your Estimates.

If you’ve encountered a setback while working on a task or perhaps part of an assignment got cut, you should update your estimates to account for the change in scope. This allows LiquidPlanner to update your total expected effort on the project.

3. Mark Tasks Done.

When you finish a task, mark it as completed. LiquidPlanner has a unique algorithm to create your schedule for you, but it can’t read your mind. When you finish a task, mark it as complete so LiquidPlanner knows to take that item off of your plate.

These three things are critical for everyone on your team to do in the workspace to keep the project schedule up to date, and the most successful teams that use LiquidPlanner have made these a daily habit and practice.

Team Essentials: Reprioritizing in LiquidPlanner

As a customer success specialist at LiquidPlanner, my passion is to prepare your entire team for success with LiquidPlanner. In my previous posts, I walked you through the essentials of LiquidPlanner’s scheduling engine and task creation; this week, I’ll be focusing on reprioritizing.

Let’s say your manager comes up to you on Monday and says, “Hey, I need you to get this done now.” You need to reprioritize your work to make this happen, but how?

So you don’t jeopardize your other projects (or anyone else’s, for that matter), you can move certain project tasks to a higher folder. Remember that the higher the folder is in the stack list in LiquidPlanner, the higher priority it is given. For example, we suggest workspaces incorporate a package called ASAP. This is usually placed at the top of the list of packages in the app and is therefore given a higher priority than most of the other packages in your workspace.

Checking Availability on My Profile

Before you can confirm to your manager that you can, in fact, complete the task immediately, you have to check your availability. Your availability, as shown in LiquidPlanner, is when you’re free to work on project-related work. People often handle availability in one of two ways:

  • Reduce your availability to account for non-project work. (This is the way we typically recommend.) This can be anything from weekly meetings to watercooler talk to checking your email, anything that you’d consider non-project work.
  • Keep availability at 8 hours (or however long your shift is) and create ongoing tasks to track work that isn’t a part of a project.

In our next lesson, I’ll show you how to keep your schedule up to date.

Team Essentials: Creating and Prioritizing Tasks in LiquidPlanner

In the first part of this series on team essentials, I walked you through the LiquidPlanner predictive scheduling engine. This week I’m excited to tell you about one of the unique features of LiquidPlanner: task prioritization.

Before we dive in, I want to make sure you are familiar with four of the basic plan items we’ll work with.

Project: The project folder contains the items that represent your current project initiative or deliverable.
Subfolder: A subfolder breaks your project up into its phases or stages.
Task: Tasks are the action items to be done; best and worst case estimates are set on a task.
Packages: Packages are containers to prioritize or organize your work.

Create a Task

In the projects tab, you’ll see that order matters. All work is prioritized in top-to-bottom order. Projects stacked on top of each other drive priority. As mentioned last time, projects that have a higher priority are shown higher up in the plan, and items that are lower in your plan have a lower priority. Higher priority items are scheduled earlier.

The first thing we will do here is to create a task. Start with the task name, and then assign it to yourself. After this, you are set to create estimates. This is one of the three factors necessary for LiquidPlanner to be successful, alongside priority and availability.

Prioritize Your Task

Light blue bars are the schedule bars for the tasks. All have the little E on them—this is the expected finish date, or when it’s likely that the item will be complete.

The range of possible finish dates is the white line within the blue schedule bar. We offer this range to account for general uncertainty with the expected finish dates. You may want to tell a stakeholder, for example, that an item will finish by this last date (to be sure), but internally you can have your team work towards the main expected finish date.

Remember, this is a dynamic tool, and LiquidPlanner generates these dates for me. Your ranged estimates are what drive LiquidPlanner to build your schedule. This is the second key factor.

Next time, we will explore reprioritizing in LiquidPlanner.

To master your project estimation skills—and learn about some methods—download our eBook, 6 Best Practices for Accurate Project Estimates.

Team Essentials: Three Key Factors to LiquidPlanner Scheduling for Insights

In this five-part series, I will be walking you through LiquidPlanner team essentials to prepare your entire team for success with LiquidPlanner. This week we will focus on the key component that sets LiquidPlanner apart from other tools: its predictive insights engine.

What Is Predictive Project Management?

LiquidPlanner is different from other project management tools out there. It is unique because it has an insights engine that allows it to be predictive with your project schedule. Projects are constantly changing, and LiquidPlanner keeps your schedule up-to-date for you by taking information from you to predict and calculate your schedule.

Three Key Factors

With these three factors, LiquidPlanner will be able to create the schedule for you.

  1. List your projects and tasks in priority order from top-to-bottom. The higher the item is in your plan, the sooner it gets scheduled. The reverse is also true: the lower the item is in your plan, the later it gets pushed out on your schedule.
  2. Assign an estimated range of effort for each task; this is how long it might you to finish a task in the best and worst case scenarios.
  3. Finally, determine how much availability you have on a given day.

Start and Finish Dates?

When you’re in the system and entering tasks, you’ll probably be asking this question: How do you enter start and finish dates? The answer is, you don’t.

The insights engine does the hard work and tells you how much you can realistically accomplish with the time and resources you have.

Obviously, priorities are constantly changing, and LiquidPlanner will help you see the effect of those changes. LiquidPlanner will alert you of potentially missed deadlines or over-allocated resources so you can ensure your team is running efficiently. Your tasks are scheduled when you’re actually available, and by accounting for your effort across all projects, LiquidPlanner calculates your start dates to ensure that you’re not getting double-booked.

Don’t miss the rest of this series when we’ll discuss creating and prioritizing tasks in LiquidPlanner.