Feature Spotlight On: Project Deadlines

Liz Rosen | August 15, 2012

Binoculars Deadlines
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Earlier this year, we blogged about the Watch feature.  Depending on your personality, watching can be a whole lot of fun, but it can also be a bit time consuming.  Time is money, right?  And clearly we all want a whole lot more of both, because customers (mainly managers) often ask me: How can I keep an eye on my team to make sure they’re working on their projects?

The answer:  Save the project-voyeurism micro-managing for later and use Deadlines.

While you probably don’t want to set deadlines for every Task, setting deadlines on Projects will help focus your team on what is needed:  keep the schedule / keep the promise to the customer / keep the deliverables / [fill in your scenario here] / on track.

As a project manager, deadlines may create a sense of urgency when you need it most, which can get people to act.  Deadlines also show your team that you’re transparent with your priorities and setting straightforward expectations of them, both of which are great leadership traits.

If you set a deadline on a project in LiquidPlanner, the tasks within the project will inherit the deadline date.  Simply go to the Options tab, click on the edit pane, and fill in a date for each project.  Once you have your deadlines set, take a deep breath and stop watching.

Why read each email for the projects you’re watching? Or on the flip side, why even spend time wondering why you’re not getting any task notifications?  Simply log in to your account, filter to the project at hand, and check the schedule bars to see if they’re creeping towards the deadline dates you set. If so – take action!

If you think you are going to be late, you need to warn everyone impacted as soon as possible, not at the last second.  LiquidPlanner is here to help you with this:

  • When a task is less than 90% likely to finish by the deadline date, you’ll see a yellow flag icon.
  • When it becomes less than 50% likely of finishing, you’ll see a red flame icon.
  • Schedule bars will turn red as well AND the project as a whole will also get a flag.

Project Task Alert Icons Deadlines

Should you happen to see schedule bars creeping towards the deadline date, or risk flags begin popping up on your projects, NOW is the time for micro-managing.  You’ve got several options for this:

1. Look at the Schedule view to see who owns the tasks that are likely to push you past your project deadline.  To answer the question “Have folks started working on their tasks?”, expose the “Total Done” column for an easy way to see who has or has not tracked any time.

Total Done Exposed Deadlines

2. Use the Progress Report for a different view of who has started working on which tasks in your project, and even see when they last reported their time.

Progress Report Deadlines

3. Check the Workload report for a quick view of your workspace members and perhaps you’ll find that you can reassign the tasks to someone else who is currently available.

Progress Report Deadlines

4. Use Analytics to do some customized drilling. For example: Create a Person report, and filter to a specific Project to see everyone who is working on it. On one page you can quickly look at both the hours logged and unlogged columns.  For each person, click on their name in the grid to drill in to the tasks they own for further specifics.

Or, run a Project or Task report instead, and expose the Delta Deadline column.  Because you set up your project with a deadline date, LiquidPlanner will calculate how far off your 90% Finish date is from your deadline date. Convenient, huh?

Deadlines Analytics

Now, you’ve hopefully saved yourself some time, maintained your sanity as a manager, AND gained concrete information along the way.  Rather than asking the generic “What’s going on?” type of question (that goes nowhere), you can now gather your team, do what’s needed, and be the leader that you want to be.

(image via)