LiquidPlanner vs. Task Management Software: An Evaluation Guide
Our LiquidPlanner product experts dedicate a lot of time to speaking with people considering new, more productive Project Management (PM) tools. A question we are often asked is: How does LiquidPlanner compare to task management tools like Trello or Asana?
Here are the key differences:
Project Vs. Task Management
To begin the comparison, it is important to define the difference between project and task management. You can think of project management tools as offering functionality that’s a superset of what’s available in task management tools. Task management tools don’t usually have the capacity to manage more complex projects, like for technology and manufacturing teams who make estimations in order to see how every plan change affects the entire project or portfolio of projects overall.
In a nutshell:
LiquidPlanner can do everything that a task management software can do—and much more. In the task management department, we help teams organize their work and collaborate more effectively. But LiquidPlanner is also a full-service PM tool for more complex project needs. Our automated scheduling engine provides realistic project plans and finish dates that reflect a constantly-changing project environment.
Everyone working on a project is juggling priorities and often come to the ever-challenging question: What’s my top priority and am I working on it? More often than not, you randomly select a project to start because you know there’s a lot of work to get done and there isn’t time to waste!
How task management prioritizes work
Prioritizing tasks within a task management tool is sometimes closer to a to-do list than a project schedule. In most task management tools, tasks and dates drive the schedule. This means you can organize tasks in priority order, but when priorities shift, these changes are not automatically reflected in the schedule. You can reprioritize plans as you see fit, but the changes don’t take into account the availability of people working on the tasks. There’s no way of easily seeing if the re-prioritization is realistic based on available resources.
Also, while some task management tools offer a “drag and drop”, many only let you keep your tasks in priority order within checklists. This makes it impossible to prioritize tasks across projects and see the impact of one change across a portfolio of work—which is important for people working on multiple projects at once.
How LiquidPlanner prioritizes work
LiquidPlanner is driven by a priority-driven scheduling engine. This means that the priority of work items and the availability of resources assigned to each of these work items drives the schedule. So, every time a priority shifts, the schedule updates automatically to show how the entire plan is affected by that change, including how the reprioritization affects available resources.
In LiquidPlanner, you can change your priorities with a simple drag and drop within the project or across projects, and the scheduling engine will automatically update across all projects in your workspace—generating new start and finish dates based on those portfolio-wide resource commitments and the priorities you assign to your workflow items.
One of the biggest deciders of project success comes down to how effectively you manage your resources. Misallocate your people, overshoot your budget, and you’re in big trouble. Do it right, and you’re a hero.
How task management tools manage resources
In general, task management tools allow you to assign tasks to resources (people), but they don’t take into account resource workload (how much work is already on people’s plates). This makes it impossible to rely on meeting your set finish date. For example, in Trello each board has a member list on the right side of the board that allows you to simply add resources to tasks. Trello assumes the members on a task will be working together in order to reach a deadline. This way of managing resources assumes that people have infinite time, or that they will stand up and push back if they don’t have the bandwidth to take on a task, which can cause a lot of problems among teams, customers—and meeting deadlines.
How LiquidPlanner manages resources
LiquidPlanner is the only resource-driven scheduling tool out there. Once in the LiquidPlanner app, each user has a personal profile where they set their available hours for project work each week. The scheduling engine takes this into account as tasks are created and assigned, providing start and finish dates based on team members’ current workload and availability.
LiquidPlanner’s resource management capabilities make it impossible to overschedule resources. If an issue arises, you can pull a workload report for a deeper look into an individual’s commitments, and see who might be available to take on more work.
Managing risks is one of the hardest things to get right—especially when you’re managing long-term projects with a lot of moving parts. LiquidPlanner was created to take project uncertainty into account, and let teams know well ahead of time of incoming risks. Most task management tools don’t offer risk management other than a notification that the deadline is a day or two away.
How task Management tools manage risk
The only true way to account for risk in a traditional task management tool is to set your due date for a task a day, a week or even longer before the actual deadline. Some of these tools will automatically notify you when you are one day away from a task being due, but at that point it’s usually too late to make any proactive changes or give stakeholders and customers due warning.
How LiquidPlanner manages risk
LiquidPlanner has a constantly running algorithm that accounts for the uncertainty inherent in all projects. Your plan will always alert you to risks well ahead of missing deadlines or running over budget. This way teams can make any necessary adjustments to priorities, resources, or have the conversations with stakeholders well in advance of disaster striking. If a project is slipping, you’re alerted within the LiquidPlanner app and via email notification.
Here’s an example of a LiquidPlanner Dashboard, customized to surface project risks well ahead of finish dates:
Scaling Up: From the Basics to Advanced
You don’t have to do everything at once. With LiquidPlanner, you can start with our task management features to organize work, share documents and collaborate more efficiently with a team member through commenting, for example. From here, you can move on to using our more robust PM features: estimation, scheduling, analytics, and resource management (see how InDinero did this).
With a task management tool, you pretty much top out early in the game. What you see is what you get and that’s it. That might be okay to start but if your company or team grows, you need a system that can grow with you (see how Redapt grew their business with LiquidPlanner).
The good news with a Dynamic Project Management tool like LiquidPlanner is that teams can customize their workspace and processes to get the best work done in a manner that fits their philosophies, processes and business needs.
If you’re looking for a better option, something that can manage projects, resources and is reliable—a PM tool rather than a task management tool, start a trial.