It takes a lot of work keeping planes in the air. At any given moment there are an estimated 5,000 commercial airplanes in the skies over the United States. Enter air traffic controllers. These project managers of the sky are responsible for getting you to your next destination quickly and safely.
So how do novice air traffic controllers become experts at navigating the skies? Answer: air traffic control simulators.
Micro Nav creates these air traffic control simulators and they’ve been a LiquidPlanner customer for three years. As a diehard fan of the product, Operations Director Kevin Crump recently chatted with us about how his company and LP have evolved together – and how LiquidPlanner has helped Micro Nav become more efficient in their project planning. Here’s our Q & A with him:
LP: You’ve been using LiquidPlanner for three years. What’s changed since you first started using it?
KC: For one, Micro Nav was acquired by the Quadrant Group last August. My group is self-contained, we remain at the same location and continue to expand. When we first started using LiquidPlanner we had about 70 seats and now we’re at about 110 and getting ready to add more. We’ve incorporated LiquidPlanner as part of the expanded toolset for the entire company. Even people who aren’t on project teams use LiquidPlanner to some degree or another – from tracking time to managing projects and catching labor data.
LiquidPlanner has been great in helping us get a project up on its feet. We’ve created a template that everyone uses so that all of our projects can get off to a quick start. Part of this process is to attach a budget to each task so we know exactly what the expectations for cost are – and then we can make sure to stay within the budget.
KC: It was a two-way ticket.
- The product’s capability
- The fantastic level of support that comes with it.
LP: What kind of ROIs do you get from using LiquidPlanner?
KC: LiquidPlanner gives visibility into a lot of the risks of a project early on so we have ample opportunity to mitigate those risks. Our old tool gave bad news too late so we had no opportunity to correct the problem before it was actually a problem. With LiquidPlanner, we get an early warning of potential schedule and budget risks which gives us an opportunity to do something about them before they happen. Being able to curb overspends and keep to the schedule (thus avoiding late delivery penalties which often apply) potentially gives us savings of tens of thousands in lost margin.
Since the buyout, we’ve been asked to provide detailed project reports to the Board. LiquidPlanner does a lot of the heavy lifting because all of the data is right there in the tool.
Lastly, I estimate that LiquidPlanner saves us around 480 man days per year which equates to around $73,000. That’s at least one full time employee on a healthy salary.
LP: How has LP affected the culture of your team?
KC: LiquidPlanner has helped our teams realize what they are here to achieve. With our old tool, only the project manager had a view into the whole picture; the rest of the team had no idea where they landed within the task and could only see their own tasks. With LiquidPlanner, everyone can see the progress and overall, it helps with team morale because everyone has insight into the entire project timeline.
LP: How do you get new team members using LP?
KC: All new users receive a quick introductory course and have access to our sandbox area so they can get better acquainted with the tool. Then, team managers sit down with new users and team managers and go through specific examples that they’ve worked on themselves. Everyone is educated in the same way and uses the tool similarly. We do this so everyone uses the tool consistently and knows how the tool works so they will fully adopt it. Basically, initiation is done through mentoring. This process works for us.
LP: How do you use our support services? Are they helpful?
KC: In the early days, we chatted with support very often – even before purchasing. We needed to make sure LiquidPlanner was the right fit for our team and the support and sales teams always had helpful advice on how to roll out LP within the company and how to get proper buyoff.
Nowadays, if anyone has any questions, I direct them to the support page, and if the answer isn’t there, I encourage them to contact the support team. The training videos are also a great resource. We have all of our new users get familiar with LP via the videos because they are so helpful. Support is half the reason why we chose to use LP. We don’t use support nearly as often as we did when we were first starting out.
LP: Version 3.0 vs. 4.3 – what’s changed?
KC: All of the new features have been great. Specifically, your new baselines feature helps us move toward the reporting we need in a more standard format. There is less wrangling data outside of LiquidPlanner, which saves a good deal of time and effort.
Checklists have also helped us move things out of SharePoint and into the LiquidPlanner interface. We have custom lists and logs that live in SharePoint that we can now add to certain tasks. For example, statements of work were logged in in SharePoint and now each item is added as a checklist item in LP.
I also love that LiquidPlanner has maintained stability. It has gotten more attractive without hindering the ease of use. It’s all about getting that balance right. You’ve walked that line extremely well.
LP: How has LiquidPlanner surprised you?
KC: I didn’t expect the updates to be so frequent. It’s been a pleasant surprise. I’m also surprised by how low maintenance LiquidPlanner is. It does exactly what it says – It just works.
LP: How has LiquidPlanner changed your job?
KC: I spend a lot less time making sure all of the data I go through is correct. With our other tool, I didn’t have confidence that the numbers in front of me were accurate. With LiquidPlanner, I don’t have to go through every report because now I have confidence in the numbers that LP gives me.
LP also gives me more time to look at the big picture – what’s on time, what’s not, etc. LiquidPlanner saves me about one-half to one day a week where I can work on other things.
LP: Any parting thoughts?
KC: Just keep doing what you’re doing!