Author: Tatyana Sussex

Tatyana Sussex

About Tatyana Sussex

Tatyana Sussex manages LiquidPlanner’s blog. Three things she loves: her morning coffee hour, swimming with her masters group, and beautiful bold colors.

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

PM tool future

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.

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

Vector illustration. Turning oil barrels into gold bars.

 “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.

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.

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?

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!

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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.

Start the assessment!

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

 

 

Friday Roundup: Self-Driving Cars, Robots, and the Most Innovative Companies

Driverless Car

There’s no doubt we’re entering a fascinating time for industry and in history. Self-driving cars are being built and tested as we speak; robots and automated processes are replacing mundane human effort—and making way for us to do more innovative work with our brains. There are so many new ways to imagine ourselves at work and in the future. Here’s a look at what’s making the news and what we’re inventing for ourselves to stay up with it all!

Why Big Firms Are More Likely to Innovate – Harvard Business Review

Large organizations get knocked for being complacent in their success, and failing to be innovative. But it’s not necessarily true—nor does it have to be. The authors make some interesting points based on research. For example, there are two important components that inspire innovation: when a company’s technology has fallen behind; and when the company is still in a position of strength. Furthermore, to stay innovative, the best thing a firm can do is to go against the saying, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Fix, fix, and look for new ways to fix. Because by the time it is broken, it could be too late.

What You Need to Know About Robot Software Developers Small Business Trends

The robots are coming! Well, let’s think this through. This article looks at how and why software teams are leveraging a process called continuous delivery. When it comes to fixing bugs and testing programs, using an automated process is a much better use of humans’ time than having individuals do this work manually. It’s a system that lets people do more of the work that moves businesses forward. Read more to find out what this means for business leaders, especially in the Internet of Things industry.

10 Top Bots for The Office Worker  VentureBeat

As the average work week increases—up to 47 hours according to one survey—people are looking for ways to streamline their efforts. From improving communication skills to an automated executive assistant, here are 10 bots that are winning popular approval for their time-saving abilities. Use and prosper!

Tesla Hastens Self-Driving Future as New Models Add Hardware Industry Week

You can’t expect Elon Musk to have his eyes on Mars and NOT want to have one of the first self-driving cars on the road. This week he announced plans for Tesla to do a drive from Los Angeles to New York without the need of a single touch between human and car.

The Most Innovative Companies of 2016 Fast Company

What does an innovative company look like? What challenges do they face? If you’re curious to know which companies are successfully pushing the edges of convention, Fast Company has a list for you. Each company’s profile includes their chief innovating factor; their challenge and their competitive advantage.

October Product Update: Focus on the Work That Really Matters

october release

Did you know that your ability to focus at work directly impacts personal and business success? Various studies have proven that focus is tied to job engagement, which is tied to increased productivity and business growth.

Still, the struggle to focus on work that needs to be done right now is universal. Distractions are everywhere. Projects grow in scope and priorities change; co-workers stop by to chat (fun), and ask for last-minute help (not so fun). There are demands from stakeholders, requests from customers, resources to be allocated. Could your attention get any more splintered?

And yet, we all want it: To get in that zone where we do impactful work and make a mark in our industry.

Focus on relevant project information

At LiquidPlanner, we know the importance of focusing on the right work to deliver excellence. Our October update supports teams in this mission—with new filter options that let team members remove distractions and focus on their most important work, no matter what’s going on around them.  

Here’s a rundown of these new focus filters:

From the Filter Menu you now have three choices around how you see and interact with your workspace:

All Projects: This is the full-meal deal, everything in your workspace. This allows you to see everything that’s going on if you want a big picture view.

My Projects: You’ll only see the packages and projects that you’re part of. This way you can focus on the work with, literally, your name on it—and have the benefit of seeing how it fits with everything else that’s going on with your projects.

My Tasks: You’ll only see the tasks you’re assigned to. For the days you want to zero in on getting things done, this one gets your straight to your top priority tasks.

Now you can see your work in context and focus on the project information that’s relevant to getting your job done. Do more of the right work, starting today!

Also Newly Redesigned, the People Tab

You’ll notice another nifty update—the look and feel of the People tab. There are now consolidated people-centric functions, such as profile, notifications, access controls, and the member invite process.

To learn more about our October update, read the release notes.

If you’re not a LiquidPlanner customer but looking for ways to increase focus and productivity at work, try us out!

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