Collaboration Nation: LiquidPlanner’s First Customer Event

Rob Nachbar | November 11, 2013

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November 7th was an exciting day for all of us here at LiquidPlanner! It marked our first customer event based here in the Seattle area.

Collaboration Nation brought together a small group of LiquidPlanner customers and friends to meet one another, share their stories, and discuss how they use LiquidPlanner to  get their teams more organized, productive and collaborative.

Between wine and light appetizers, there was a moderated panel discussion that explored how three very different organizations were using LiquidPlanner as well as a presentation from Elizabeth Bowman, a productivity coach who shared some of her favorite email organizing tips with the group.

guests at collaboration nation

Here’s some of the collected experience and wisdom passed on from our three panelists:

John Gabbert, CEO of Pitchbook

Pitchbook was founded seven years ago with the goal of providing comprehensive research on the venture capital and private equity industry. As the company grew – from a handful of people, to 50 and then 100 – it became harder to keep track of projects and execute well.  “Doing the core things well isn’t as easy,” John explains. What the group needed was a project management tool to help them with alignment, clarity, focusing on the right work, and executing well.

The company has since grown to several hundred people worldwide. About eight months ago, Pitchbook started using LiquidPlanner to reach their goals while they scaled their operations. How did they get their team to adopt a new tool? John says: “It’s important to really commit to it. Developing discipline is the hard part. The key to success is to make it part of the workflow. Just like our sales team drives their meetings using Salesforce, we now drive our marketing meetings from LiquidPlanner.”

Russ Beard, VP of IT, Bellevue College

“I have the best job in the world,” Russ announced. “I get to walk around all day and watch people change their lives.” Russ joined Bellevue College – the third largest accredited university in Washington State – a few years ago with the goal of turning the IT culture from one that “holds the keys to the IT kingdom” into a service industry that was more organized and collaborative. On the topic of how project management has evolved, Russ says: “The project management industry is a little like the educational field. We’re in the 21st century but we’re still using models designed hundreds of years ago (like the Gantt chart). Project management tools should not box you in but rather provide you the freedom to adapt to your own flow.” Plus, Russ pointed out, the new graduate is going to demand more agile and collaborative tools – not spreadsheets.

panelists at collaboration nation

Stuart Kenney, Project Manager, Nordstrom

Stuart is a project manager and lead studio technician for the Nordstrom photo studio in Seattle – one of two major photo production studios that Nordstrom relies on to produce commercial imagery. Stuart, who calls himself an “accidental project manager,” had the role handed to him unexpectedly, and embraced it. He quickly set out to evaluate the many tools on the market before settling on LiquidPlanner. Of this experience, Stuart says: “We wanted to find a project tool that worked for individuals who didn’t identify themselves as project managers. In LiquidPlanner we found a tool that enabled collaboration, provided visibility across our team, and allowed us to effectively prioritize our work.”

Wrapping up the afternoon was Elizabeth Bowman, Founder of Innovatively Organized, a Seattle-based productivity consulting firm that works with executives, teams, and companies who want to manage their time better and be more productive.2a2bc8b

Elizabeth was right at home talking to a roomful of self-proclaimed productivity geeks. Her talk focused on one of the greatest productivity killers: email. The analogy that she used to describe the problem that most of us encounter was straightforward enough – and yet quite illuminating: postal mail. Think about it – when you come home from work and check your mailbox, do you immediately open all of your mail, pay all your bills, write a note back to your mother, all before you come through the front door? Of course not! You organize it into piles and reply accordingly. Elizabeth tells clients to treat every piece of email as a unit of time and to be careful not to confuse being busy with being productive.

Thanks again for all of our customers and friends who joined us for this fantastic inaugural event. We’re excited to do another Collaboration Nation, and who knows, perhaps we’ll do it in your city!