Author: Tatyana Sussex

How to Prioritize Work When Everything Is #1

All projects—especially large, complex projects—need clear priorities. Easier said than done. You can count on technical projects, no matter how well-planned, to involve change orders, re-prioritization and the regular appearance of surprises. It’s just the natural order of things.

But still. Knowing how to prioritize work affects the success of your project, the engagement of your team, and your role as a leader.

One of the biggest challenges for project managers and leaders is accurately prioritizing the work that matters on a daily basis. Even if you have the best project management software on the planet, you’re the one who enters information into the tool. And, you don’t want to fall into the role of crying “top priority” for every other project that comes down the pike.

Related: How to Better Prioritize Work and Projects

Just as you have to be diligent and have the right kind of project insight to ensure that nobody’s working on yesterday’s priorities. It takes a lot of practice to get this right.

To help you manage your team’s workload and hit deadlines, here are 6 steps to prioritizing projects that have a lot of moving parts.

1. Collect a list of all your tasks.

Pull together everything you could possibly consider getting done in a day. Don’t worry about the order, or the number of items up front.

2. Identify urgent vs. important.

The next step is to see if you have any tasks that need immediate attention. We’re talking about work that, if not completed by the end of the day or in the next several hours, will have serious negative consequences (missed client deadline; missed publication or release deadlines, etc.). Check to see if there are any high-pri dependencies that rely on you finishing up a piece of work now.

Related: Your Guide to Accurately Estimating Projects

3. Assess value.

Next, look at your important work and identify what carries the highest value to your business and organization. As a general practice, you want to recognize exactly which types of tasks have top priority over the others.

For example, focus on client projects before internal work; setting up the new CEO’s computer before re-configuring the database; answering support tickets before writing training materials, and so on. Another way to assess value is to look at how many people are impacted by your work. In general, the more people involved or impacted, the higher the stakes.

4. Order tasks by estimated effort.

If you have tasks that seem to tie for priority standing, check their estimates, and start on whichever one you think will take the most effort to complete. Productivity experts suggest the tactic of starting the lengthier task first. But, if you feel like you can’t focus on your meatier projects before you finish up the shorter task, then go with your gut and do that. It can be motivating to check a small task off the list before diving into deeper waters.

Related: Ask a Project Manager: How Can I Be More Productive?

5. Be flexible and adaptable.

Uncertainty and change are a given. Know that your priorities will change, and often when you least expect them to. But—and here’s the trick—you also want to stay focused on the tasks you’re committed to completing.

6. Know when to cut.

You probably can’t get to everything on your list. After you prioritize your tasks and look at your estimates, cut the remaining tasks from your list, and focus on the priorities that you know you must and can complete for the day. Then take a deep breath, dive in and be ready for anything.

LiquidPlanner: A Microsoft Project Alternative

We’re often asked how LiquidPlanner compares to Microsoft Project. Which makes sense—after all, Microsoft Project was the go-to project management software for years. But times and the way we work have changed, and you need a project management tool that better fits your evolved needs.

Project Management: Then and Now

Just think: 10 years ago, the predominant project management method was using a tool that lived on one person’s computer—namely, the project manager. This person would create a project schedule, send the plan to the team, which they could access if they had the scheduling tool installed, and then attempt to keep the schedule updated by manually tracking and inputting updates.

We don’t have to tell you about the pain associated with this process, or about how impossible it is to keep the schedule truly up to date.

Turn the clock forward to today, and you’ll see a new landscape of project management tools—tools that have transformed a rigid, desktop-only project management environment to one that is collaborative, fluid and cloud-based.

LiquidPlanner: A Microsoft Project Alternative

We built LiquidPlanner based on the belief that teams work best when they organize tasks by priority, make best/worst case estimates, collaborate in one central location, and can rely on a scheduling engine that automatically updates whenever plan items change.

So how does a new-generation tool like LiquidPlanner compare to a traditional one like Microsoft Project?

In this article, we’re going to compare LiquidPlanner to Microsoft Project, more specifically, Microsoft Project Online with Project Pro for Office 365.

Building Schedules

Building and tracking project schedules was the bane of a project manager’s existence in the old world of manually creating and updating plans. LiquidPlanner provides easier access and the ability to make changes that are automatically reflected in the most current project schedule.

  LiquidPlanner Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365
Getting started: LiquidPlanner provides a completely web-based solution to intuitively build powerful and predictive schedules. With Project Online, you can build straightforward project schedules; however, if you want to manage deadlines, edit master project schedules, baseline or resource level, the PC client version of Microsoft Project needs to be installed.
Scheduling: Once all the tasks are assigned estimates based on effort and best/worst case scenarios, the LiquidPlanner scheduling engine rolls up all that information and provides predictive finish dates for the entire project. While Microsoft Project has a lot of powerful scheduling capabilities, these features can also overwhelm the novice user. Users can choose between ad hoc, pick-a-date manual scheduling and automatic scheduling where dates adjust based on tasks.
Resource leveling: LiquidPlanner automatically resource levels the plan by looking at every team member’s priorities, task assignments and availability. Unfinished work is automatically rescheduled so the project team always has an updated schedule. As each team member works on a task, the schedule adjusts across the entire project portfolio. You also have access to baseline views of your schedule. Task dependencies are added manually, and the project manager chooses between fixed duration, fixed work or fixed unit scheduling.

Managing Uncertainty

Uncertainty is inherent in all projects. Being able to manage uncertainty effectively is the difference between leading a hair-on-fire reactive project and one where you can foresee incoming risk and act responsively.

  LiquidPlanner Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365
Estimating effort: LiquidPlanner manages uncertainty by using ranged estimations based on best case/worst case scenarios. Uncertainty is managed using a low and high effort estimate. LiquidPlanner will calculate an expected delivery date and provide a statistical likelihood of achieving given end dates. Microsoft project provides a single-point estimate for work effort or task duration. The three-point PERT formula used to be supported as an add-in, but was removed with MS Project 2010. If you want to create a weight average duration estimate, you’ll need to create custom fields and formulas in the PC-based tool.
Managing risk: Building schedules around estimates gives teams a plan based in the fact that projects are rife with uncertainty and unexpected risk. Which means, the schedule has those risks built in. One benefit is that project managers and team leaders can speak with confidence about project status and delivery dates rather than hoping the project will complete on time. One technique to manage uncertainty is to add buffer tasks to the schedule which technically inflates the project duration. This technique works, but you’ll be manually adjusting the buffer which increases administrative burden.

Maintaining and Updating Schedules

A project schedule is worthless unless it’s kept up to date on a regular basis. If it updating the schedule becomes tedious (i.e., manual or a one-person job), the likelihood of keeping it updated plummets. Updating tasks should be a collaborative effort, and changes should be automatically reflected in the plan, in real time.

  LiquidPlanner Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365
Automatic updates: LiquidPlanner’s schedule automatically updates in real time every time a change is made to a task or project item. For example, as team members work on tasks and update task progress, the schedule reflects the change at the task level all the way up to the project. Before the task update is committed to the project schedule, the project manager needs to accept and commit each task update, and then “check-in” the final project schedule.
Managing schedule changes: Since the project schedule and all of its details and documents lives online, there’s no risk of important plan information getting lost on someone’s desktop. All plan information is integrated into the LiquidPlanner scheduling system. This makes it easy to update project information without having to collect task updates and then manually update the schedule. Project managers can still download the schedule into the full MS Project PC-based software, but the online updates make managing the schedule easier.
Team access: Since LiquidPlanner is completely web-based, team members can collaborate and make schedule updates regardless of their computer platform—or their location. Mobile users can use the LiquidPlanner apps to make updates or collaborate while on the go. With Project Online, project teams can make schedule updates online. For project managers focused on command and control, approving task updates before applying them to the schedule is a useful feature.

Project Visibility

Generating meaningful visibility into project status and data shouldn’t be so hard. Team leaders, stakeholders and project managers need insight into data performance, and they want options on how they view and access that information. Smart dashboards and at-a-glance views should provide project managers with all the data they need to give updates, drive strategy and make meaningful decisions.

  LiquidPlanner Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365
Types of project views: LiquidPlanner provides a multitude of views of the project plan that include: Timeline views of general schedule progress, Comparative baseline views, Card View provides a Kanban-style view where teams manage tasks on cards, Dashboard lets you set up and access customized project data and status, Views into remaining work, total trend, date drift, workload data and more. All of this functionality is delivered seamlessly through a central online workspace. Microsoft Project Online provides multiple views of your project data in an online environment. The PC version has many different views and tables to review schedule variance, resource commitments and project costs. If you want to build custom views, you’ll still want to view the schedule in the client-based tool.

Collaboration

Teams can’t work in silos anymore and be competitive. Plus, project teams are often working in multiple locations, and need a system that brings everyone together—whether they’re working in different time zones, or on different floors. Collaboration tools foster clear communication, pool brain power, and increase performance and productivity.

  LiquidPlanner Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365
Shared central location: Collaboration is one of the main foundations of how projects are managed in LiquidPlanner, starting with a central and shared workspace. LiquidPlanner is a people-focused solution that allows each team member to provide task updates and share ownership in the plan. By collaborating on a common platform, each team member can be informed at all times on what’s needed, and take action. Microsoft Project Online is built on access to Sharepoint. Team members need to check in their Microsoft Project files to make changes to the schedule and the resource pool. At first it may seem a little clunky, but project managers familiar with Sharepoint’s version management will eventually get the hang of it.
Collaboration features: Features that support collaboration include: making comments in context with work items; being able to view conversation streams; following tasks, and document sharing that integrates with Google Docs, Dropbox and Box. Microsoft Project delivers collaboration features through the Sharepoint front end. Project teams receive all of the collaboration features found in Sharepoint plus the Microsoft Project Online integration.

Resource Leveling

Resource leveling is the one step that many project managers forget as they develop a project schedule. Too often, the pick-a-date approach is used to back into a project delivery date without accounting for resources and current task assignments. Ideally, you want a resource-driven scheduling engine that calculates the project plan based on team members’ availability and project costing.

  LiquidPlanner Microsoft Project O365 with Project Online
Resource-driven schedules: LiquidPlanner provides an automatic and intelligent approach to resource leveling. By using priority-based scheduling across an integrated resource pool, it’s impossible to overbook a resource. Tasks and schedules automatically adjust based on each team member’s availability and existing project commitments. Microsoft Project provides resource leveling heuristics that can be applied for manual or automatic resource leveling. It’s often done after the project tasks have been sequenced and resources are assigned. With Project Online, resource managers can identify over-allocations and work with project managers to resolve resource problems.
Automatic resource leveling: With LiquidPlanner, project teams need to set their availability and make decisions about task priorities—then, schedules are automatically updated reflecting that availability. It’s an acquired skill to make sure that the   schedule is constraint-free, and that it dynamically changes based on progress. Novice project managers often avoid using the automatic resource leveling feature because it can unrealistically extend the end date if the predecessors are not correctly defined.

Application Architecture

Understanding how a technology solution empowers project teams to be autonomous and take initiative is important for the team implementing the solution. Depending on the software solution, you may need additional software for each PC or additional servers to support analytical reporting.

LiquidPlanner Microsoft Project O365 with Project Online
Ease of implementation: LiquidPlanner is a single unified application, available online. All you need is an internet connection and a web browser and you can start working on projects. Project teams benefit from this solution because of the low overhead it takes to implement. This Microsoft Project solution is a Sharepoint environment hosted in the Microsoft Cloud. Project teams can access the solution through the internet and start building standard schedules. If more advanced scheduling is required, the full Microsoft Project software application needs to be installed on the PC. Project reporting is delivered using Excel, and custom reports are usually part of a Microsoft Project consulting engagement. If project teams want additional analytics style reporting, teams will need a separate SQL Server instance installed in their data center.

The project management marketplace has a growing selection of tools to help teams do great work. Our goal is to continue to be the best collaborative PM tool in the market, and help teams deliver projects with a reliable and meaningful project schedule—and without a ton of administrative burden.

If you’d like to see what managing your projects in LiquidPlanner looks like, sign up for a demo with one of our product experts.

 

What Does a Project Management Tool of the Future Look Like?

We’ve been reading and writing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution—or Industry 4.0. Radical technological advancements combined with manufacturing are taking us into an exciting future: robotics, automation, 3-D printers. As a result, productivity is predicted to be on an upswing, even though manual resources aren’t keeping up. This translates, for some teams, into doing more with less.

A-20_State_PM_CTA

Whatever your current situation, productivity is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Everyone’s trying to produce a lot of meaningful work. As a consequence, project management tools are going to have to reinvent themselves to keep up with the speed of doing business. Using static spreadsheets and other platforms that require manual updates aren’t supportive enough or agile enough to keep teams competitive and ahead of the curve. Instead, you need a new world tool to support the new industrial revolution.

What does an Industry 4.0 project management tool look like?

  • Flexible and nimble
    Smart software moves with the unpredictability inherent to manufacturing projects—and moves work forward.
  • Schedules automatically update
    No more time-consuming manual updates. The new world demands software that keeps up with every project change along the way.
  • Radically collaborative
    All team members and teams have an unprecedented ease of communication and project tracking to see the small and big picture at all times.
  • Data driven
    Every touchpoint of progress creates a rich vault of project data used to make important decisions—even on the fly.
  • Supports more innovation, less administration
    Smart software trades in the time-consuming job of wrestling project schedules for strategic thinking and using skillsets in meaningful ways.
  • Lets you track progress and allocate resources in real time
    Software of the future integrates availability into schedules—to show managers who’s working on what and make the needed adjustments

In our latest eBook, “Are You Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?” we take a look at it means to thrive in Industry 4.0, and what tools are necessary to keep up with new world market demands. We’re going there right along with you!

Are You Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

7 Signs You Don’t Have the Right Project Management Tool for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

“Adapt or perish,” said H.G. Wells, the father of science fiction. Some of us know all too well how right-on this quote is to succeeding in business these days—especially when it comes to staying competitive in what’s being called the  Fourth Industrial Revolution.

It’s an exciting time and a challenging time. Advanced technology, like in the previous industrial revolutions, is increasing the speed of manufacturing and doing business. This means that organizations and their product teams need to use software that supports faster turnover and accomplishes more with fewer resources.

Beware the trap of using yesterday’s tools 

Being flexible is going to be the key to managing productivity and to business success in Industry 4.0. Most importantly, teams will need new world tools to manage new world demands. In a recent LiquidPlanner survey of more than 100 manufacturers across the U.S., 62 percent of respondents said they were looking to build revenue and cut costs over the next year by “boosting productivity.” At the same time, almost 80 percent of respondents said they use spreadsheets to manage their projects. But. But—

How do you do increase productivity in a new world when using old world tools? Consider this: Gantt charts were first developed in the 1910s, a tool that uses rigid start and finish dates, which don’t reflect changes in real time. The first spread sheet was invented in 1979—and spread sheets still require manual updating. Consequently, they are famously neglected and out of date.

A-20_State_PM_CTA

Signs you’re using the wrong project management tool for Industry 4.0

  • Interdependent teams work at cross-purposes because they have no way to stay on top of each other’s progress.
  • Projects and deliveries are often late.
  • Your supply chain is over-extended and chaotic.
  • A chronic state of panic runs through your projects.
  • Customers are dissatisfied. You’ve even lost a few over the years. Some are hanging by a thread.
  • Employees are leaving. Team members are overworked and burnt out.
  • Competitors are beating you to market. You risk becoming irrelevant.

Being flexible and using a platform that can respond to change and predict finish dates is going to be key to managing productivity and business success.

Ready to try a modern project management solution? In our white paper, “The Future of Smart Manufacturing: Why Businesses are Moving to the Cloud“, we explore why manufacturers are making the switch and what they stand to gain from the power of cloud computing.

How to Succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Vector illustration. Turning oil barrels into gold bars.

Many organizations and their teams aren’t prepared for the future. We’re talking about a future that’s being heralded as the Fourth Industrial Revolution: an exciting time where technology-meets-manufacturing to change the way we work and live.

Every industrial revolution throws the incumbent modes of productivity into turmoil. Take the First Industrial Revolution for example. The transition to move from an agricultural economy to an industrial one started in 1760 in Great Britain and took more than a century to roll out in the U.S. Going from hand-made to machine-made products ushered in a new age of increased productivity—and created a higher standard of living around the world.

And now we’re on a new Industrial brink. We’re entering an age of customizable mass production; where parts travelling between factories all over the world could be a thing of the past. Instead, Industry 4.0 could evolve into smaller regional factories that will mass produce made-to-order products—requiring fast and flexible processes to keep up with demand.

Change brings with it an awakening to a new way of doing things. Then comes the transition process. And then it’s time to adapt. “Adapt or perish,” said H.G. Wells, the father of science fiction.

Using the New Tools to Solve New Problems

There will be requirements to adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Business leaders need to be ready and teams need to use responsive software in order to keep up with new world challenges. A problem that many companies are struggling with right now is that current project systems can’t manage the influx of productivity that Industry 4.0 demands of us.

Here is what’s needed to succeed in the new world of doing business:

Agility and speed: Time will move exponentially, not linearly. Automation of assembly line at warp speeds.

To accomplish more with fewer people: AI, robotics and automation will perform repetitive jobs. Already, studies are showing that as we head into a period of increased productivity, employment is down.

Only the lean and mean will survive: Cutting costs and maximizing growth is the name of the game. In a recent LiquidPlanner survey with over 100 manufacturing companies, one of the top initiatives for business was to cut costs and drive growth.

Flexible processes: Some futurists are predicting that factories will be smaller, more agile. Scale will give way to customization at a mass production speed.

Are you ready?

In our latest eBook, “Are You Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?” we take a look at what this revolution is made of; what it means to thrive in Industry 4.0, and what tools are necessary to keep up with new world market demands. We’re going there right along with you!

Download the eBook now!
Are You Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

What Does the Fourth Industrial Revolution Look Like?

robot android men

The future is no longer on its way. It’s here. Take these recent news items, for example: Las Vegas just launched the first electric autonomous shuttle on American roads. Airbus announced that they’ll test the first autonomous flying taxi by the end of 2017.

These are some of the cooler signs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution—powered by the radical technological advancements of AI, IoT, robotics, automation, quantum computing, biotechnology and more.

The fact that many of us can already turn up the heat or unlock the front door on the drive home from work, or from another state—or country!—is a sign of Industry 4.0 technology in action. Amazon using robots in their warehouses to manage inventory is another sign (scaling a 75-minute process done by humans down to 15 minutes). A LiquidPlanner manufacturing customer recently told us that using a 3D printer scaled a three-week process down to three days.

3D printers are also going to be able to produce complex projects in one place—from furniture to medical devices to prosthetic limbs. This means consumers will be able to buy the products they want with the functionality and design they need—at the same speed as something that is mass produced.

It’s exciting to be on the forefront of a new Industrial Revolution. It also means many of us working at jobs all over the world will be facing new fascinating challenges: around managing projects, distributing work, communicating among teams and being productive at a higher rate than ever—with a lower ratio of people power. The good news is we’re all in this together.

In our latest eBook, “Are You Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?” we take a look at what it means to thrive in Industry 4.0, and what tools are necessary to keep up with new world market demands.

Download the eBook now!

Are You Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Are You Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Fourth Industrial Revolution

We are on the verge of an unprecedented time in history. Radical technological advancements—powered by AI, IoT, robotics, quantum computing, biotechnology and more—will change the way we work and live on a global scale.

We’re living in an exciting time! A world where robots and humans work side by side and where self-driving cars become a reality is all part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As with any new movement, there are bright challenges. For example, Industry 4.0 demands high productivity with increased customization—often using less people power. To accommodate these shifts, businesses and their teams will need to be agile, and incorporate fast and flexible processes in order to thrive.

Many organizations aren’t prepared for this future because they’re applying old world technology to new world needs. So how do you step up to be ready for the new world of industry?

In our latest eBook, “Are You Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?” we take a look at what this revolution is made of; what it means to thrive in Industry 4.0, and what tools are necessary to keep up with new world market demands.

Download the eBook now!

Are You Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

3 Product Updates Corral Project Data More Efficiently Than Ever

Custom Field

When you use a data-driven project management platform like LiquidPlanner, you generate a lot of important information that needs to be organized, accessed and acted upon. So how do you corral key data as quickly and easily as possible?

We have a nifty three-pack of feature improvements that makes it easier to manage project data than ever before.

These updates are:

  • Additional Custom Fields
  • Dashboard Archiving
  • A new Analytics Totals row

Here’s a look at each update.

More Custom Fields

Enterprise edition workspaces now have more custom fields to work with–25 project fields and 25 tasks fields to be exact! (Up from 10.) For teams that run a lot of complex projects, custom fields help keep project data organized and properly categorized–great for capturing attributes that you can filter against.

For example, a business can use custom fields as a way to stripe work categories, process flows or geography–the choice is yours. Read more about custom fields here.

r74 custom fields

Dashboard Archives

Our customers love their dashboards as a way to visualize data and share project information. But what do you do when the project ends?  The new archiving feature lets you archive individual dashboards after they’re no longer needed. By archiving, instead of deleting dashboards, you can retrieve them through search whenever you want. Archives keep your workspace lean and mean. Plus, you can create more dashboards without worrying about your list growing out of control. Note: Dashboards can be archived by editors and creators.

Dashboards are available with the LiquidPlanner Professional and Enterprise editions only. To see how dashboards are used, check out the Dashboard Gallery.

r74 dashboard

Analytics Summation

Need to know how many hours were logged towards all of your client projects last quarter? Now, when you run an Analytics report, you’ll see a Totals row at the bottom of the data table that automatically calculates data for each column.

r74 summation

This saves the step of exporting reports into a spreadsheet or doing the math yourself. To sum things up–LiquidPlanner does the calculating for you!

Advanced Analytics reports are available with the LiquidPlanner Professional and Enterprise editions only. You can learn more about our Analytics feature here. For a full rundown, read the release notes.

We hope these upgrades get your year off to a great start!

If you’re not a LiquidPlanner customer and like what you see here, give us a try!

Start My Free Trial

Customer Story: How bf1systems Adapts to Change in the Motorsports Industry Using LiquidPlanner

bf1systems

What’s the most advanced, technically and physically demanding event on the planet?

It’s motorsports. The machines are purpose-built, designed to last for only one race at a time (a few hours). Manufacturing tolerances for these race cars require an insane amount of precision, to both increase power and reduce weight. Furthermore, in a motorsport series like Formula 1, the difference between winning a race and losing it can be measured in one-thousandths of a second.

How bf1systems Shows up on the Race Track

While fans and viewers are focused on the flashy drivers, their colorful cars, the loud noises and potential death-defying crashes, the race teams and factory engineers are focused on other details—like the amount of pressure in an F1 tire and how it helps or hampers tire performance throughout a stint. In order to get reliable data on tire performance, teams throughout major race series, from F1 to NASCAR, Formula 3 and FIA World Rallycross, turn to the engineering team at bf1systems.

The #1 Challenge for the bf1systems Team: Responding to Change

The bf1systems team juggles up to 40 projects at a time. These range from one-month projects (such as designing a new housing for an existing sensor) to major 18-month projects with multiple deliverables. One example of a major project is the development of an entirely new wheel sensor system for a Formula One Team, which might include sensors, control modules, antennas, embedded software and diagnostic software.

For years, the business struggled with managing fast-paced, highly design-driven projects.

For Peter Harris, Electronics Project Manager at bf1systems, the biggest problem this presented for his team was an inability to accommodate change.

“We have a huge push at the start of the Formula One season, when things can change on a daily basis,” he explains. “Without proper project management, if a customer wanted a change on Project A, we had no way of evaluating the impact on that project—let alone the effects it would have on Projects B, C, D, and so on. The lack of a consolidated view of resource usage across all projects only exacerbated this pain.”

Time to Find a Better Solution

With a list of requirements in hand, Harris considered a new list of project manage­ment solutions. “After I had a clear idea of what we needed, LiquidPlanner really stood out,” he recalls. “It was the only affordable solution that ticked all the boxes. It was also clear that LiquidPlanner had the right product direction: an effort-based approach to project management that could help us address rapidly-changing priorities and keep everyone on the team tied-into the current project plan. With the case for LiquidPlanner clear in my mind, I sat down with our Technical Director and Operations Director and got their buy-in.”

Benefits of Using LiquidPlanner

Harris’ team isn’t just using LiquidPlanner to capture hard data, such as task estimates versus the actual time required to complete that task. The team is also using it to capture “softer” aspects of project history, such as the email thread that may have led to a change in the plan. And because this information is accessible to all, it keeps everyone up-to-speed and on the same page in the face of continual change.

“We’re using the community tools in LiquidPlanner more and more,” says Harris. “I love the space it provides for notes; in fact, the extent to which team members are using the commenting features in LiquidPlanner has been a very pleasant surprise.”

For a data-driven engineering group, LiquidPlanner has enabled bf1systems to get a solid grip on historic project data and use this information to shape future projects. In addition, the team is able to deal with rapidly changing requirements and ad hoc projects throughout the race season in a more efficient way.

For more, you can read the full bf1systems customer story here.

Interested to learn more about the methodology that helps bf1systems manage continual project change? Download our eBook, “Introduction to Dynamic Project Management.”

An Introduction to Dynamic Project Management

 

 

6 Top Project Fears that Dynamic Project Management Makes Disappear

top project fears

There’s a lot at stake for project teams and their managers. Big money’s on the table, commitments and partnerships have been made, and there’s a network of teams with skilled workers who are coordinating their efforts to make timely hand-offs and deliveries. In short, there’s endless stuff to accomplish and stay on top of. And if you don’t have a fast and flexible tool that helps you manage and track everything–you have every right to be very, very afraid!

However, if you institute the right project management process, you don’t have to stay up at night worrying about your project (or your business, or your job). Here’s a look at how swapping old-school project management processes (spreadsheets, non-collaborative tools) for a dynamic project management system can help you overcome six terrifying but common project management situations.

1. “I don’t think we’ll make the deadline!”

It’s not fun to sweat out a project because you established a single-point finish date that was A) established by a boss or client with no idea of how long each task would take, and B) didn’t account for unexpected risks that are now taking the project in a whole new direction. Big oops! A dynamic project management process lets you make ranged estimates based on best/worst case scenarios. This practice schedules uncertainty into your plan, and gives teams a range of finish dates that are based in reality—because the people doing the work are making the estimates.

2. “My team is putting in too much overtime again—I hope they don’t quit on me!”

An over-scheduled team is an unhappy (and eventually unproductive) one. The antidote to this is finding a system that integrates resource leveling into your scheduler. This way, as you create your project plan, the schedule will be built based on team members’ availability. No over-booking, no over-working. A happy, engaged, productive team.

3. “Did they get my email? Do they know what’s happening over here?”

It’s hard to establish impeccable communication streams when everyone is using a different tool to share information: email, chat, text, phone, video . . . But when everyone is working in the same tool, having conversations in context with the work being done, you create a storyline for your project work. This eliminates blind spots and unpleasant surprises; instead, any schedule shifts get communicated ASAP to the people that need to manage the changes.

4. “What on earth is my team even doing?”

The silos of spreadsheets and other static tools that are managed by one person make it hard to keep track of projects in real time. (Plus, they’re so hard to update, they’re hardly ever updated!) A dynamic project management tool is collaborative. It lets everyone participate in updating their work, inputting time and estimates to each task, and handing off or closing tasks. When all project information is stored in one place and updated automatically with every change, it’s easy for managers to eyeball the schedule and see who’s doing what—especially when you have a resource workload report surfacing team members’ activities.

5. “How do I keep my team focused on the right priorities?”

A dynamic project management process makes it easy to prioritize work—and re-prioritize work as things change. And here’s the best part: The tasks are clearly visible to all team members, so they know at all times what the top priority work is. Better yet, using a transparent tool means everyone can see how their work relates to the bigger picture, which builds engagement, autonomy—and top-performing teams.

6. “How do I stay connected to our global offices?”

Using online project planning software has the benefits of being accessible to anyone on the team, anywhere in the world. You could be working two feet away from a team member or across the globe—the work all shows up in the same place. Just account for time changes.

Could you benefit from adopting the Dynamic Project Management system? Take our project management diagnostic to get a sense for the health of your current project management system.

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One more thing! Interested in learning more about the benefits of using a dynamic project management process? Download our eBook, “Introduction to Dynamic Project Management.”

Intro to Dynamic PM