Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a series. For more advanced tips, check out Part 2.
Perhaps you’ve been visiting our website for a while now, reading blog posts and watching videos, but you haven’t used our software yet. Or maybe you’ve just learned of us, and you’re on the hunt for a new project management tool.
Whatever your reason for starting a trial, we want to help you make the most it. This guide walks you through how to get a sample project up and running—so you can maximize your 2-week free trial.
Before we get started, remember that LiquidPlanner has a scheduling engine that calculates all of your expected [E] dates for you based on people, priority, and ranged estimates of effort….and recalculates your dates dynamically as time is logged, priorities shift, or resource availability changes.
Lastly, we offer complimentary, personalized product demos. If you have any questions or want to schedule a demo, send us a note.
Let’s get started!
Step 1. Add your people.
Adding real or virtual resources to LiquidPlanner will help you calculate a more realistic schedule (unless you want to take on every task for your team!).
In the People Tab of your trial workspace, click “Add +” to add either trial members or virtual members to collaborate with you.
Virtual members are a popular option for testing out the trial, and you can always convert to real members later on. Virtual members are commonly used in the pre-planning phase as placeholders for real members, or in an active schedule to account for external resources or machines that can’t log time in LiquidPlanner.
Pro Tip: Virtual Member names cannot have spaces, so if you have more than one Matt, we recommend adding a capitalized last name initial to the end, e.g. MattB and MattC.
Step 2. Set members’ weekly availability.
Now that you have some friends in your trial workspace, you’ll need to adjust their weekly availability. Workspace administrators can adjust availability for members via the People tab > Member List > select member name > enter their daily availability > click Save Profile.
This is a baseline of a member’s weekly availability to work on projects that will be scheduled in LiquidPlanner. You can always add Events to block off availability for things like company holidays, personal vacation, or onsite client meetings that will impact project schedules.
Pro Tip: While default settings show 40 hours a week, most resources typically have schedules that include weekly meetings, break times, or even daily admin work that would not be built into LiquidPlanner project timelines. You may want to set up availability for 5 to 7 hours per day.
Step 3. Add a project.
Now it’s time to get a feel for everyday life in LiquidPlanner. Your first task is to add a project.
You can add projects via the Project tab > Add Menu > Projects. Then, enter the project name, the project owner, and the deadline date (if applicable).
Pro Tip: If you want to add more than one Project at a time, keep selecting the “New Project” name or use the old Add form to bulk add up to 50 Project Names at one time.
To make it easier to keep your projects in priority order and maintain visibility, sometimes your current project naming convention would be best set up as a project custom field.
Custom field types include Pick List, Text, Date, Numeric, and Currency fields. Only workspace administrators can create custom fields, but all workspace members can set and update custom field values on the Edit Panel. Here are some common ways our customers use custom fields:
- Project Status is a common one for Pick List or Text Custom Field.
- Job Number could be a numerical custom field.
- Project Type or Department could be a Pick List Custom Field.
Step 4. Add tasks to your project.
Once you’ve created a project, the next step is to add tasks. A task is the most basic building block in LiquidPlanner and represents an individual work item for a project. A task can be added to a project, sub-folder, package, or the Inbox. Tasks must be placed within a container.
When adding tasks, you will want to keep three things in mind:
- Priority is arranged top to bottom. The scheduling engine will schedule out each task in order of priority from top to bottom. You can drag and drop later to change priority, if needed.
- People. Assign the correct task owner (all those resources you added earlier). LiquidPlanner will use the resource’s weekly availability (that you set earlier) to calculate when they can complete this task.
- Ranged estimates. Enter a best-case to worst-case range of effort estimate (in hours) for the task. Even if a task usually takes you 10 hours, having a range of 8 to 12 will build a natural buffer into your project plan.
Pro Tip: The “New Task” link can be used to insert a new row if you need to add multiple tasks at one time. Up to 50 tasks can be created at one time from this window.
Step 5. Repeat steps 3 and 4.
Congratulations! You’ve built out your first project in LiquidPlanner!
As you build out your projects and tasks, you may want to duplicate and save some of these projects as Templates. Simply right click and select duplicate to create a copy.
Do you have resources that work on more than one project at a time? Daily Limits can be added at the Project or Task level for each resource to help you build a realistic schedule.
Looking for more advanced tips? Check out the second part of this series.
Visit our knowledge base for additional articles and videos.
Ready to use what you’ve learned? Why not start a free LiquidPlanner trial today?