How to Manage Plan Changes Using LiquidPlanner

Charles Seybold | April 10, 2014

project changes
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When your team is fully up to speed on using LiquidPlanner, your workspace will become a very dynamic collaboration platform where many updates will be captured, tracked and discussed.

plan changes

Traditional planning systems are very static, typically out of date and hard to trust. Conversely, LiquidPlanner’s real-time approach means that schedules are always being trued up, and notifications and alerts will always be in play to keep people informed.

We call this effect “Social Project Management” and it has the power to unlock hidden productivity gains in organizations by increasing transparency, reducing delays in critical business information, and establishing accountability for plans and updates.

The social edit model

LiquidPlanner follows a “trusted team” model of editing the plan. In general, members can edit what they have access to. That said, most changes are tracked via the History feature. For instance, managers can see every re-estimation, all hours of logged progress, and all comments made on a task.

changes in project schedule

In general the Social Edit Model performs tremendously well and empowers team members to contribute key insights. This approach increases team engagement with your broader planning processes and gives members the tools and information they need to be more productive and self-managed.

LiquidPlanner has many tools to help managers follow, isolate and analyze changes made by the team.

Built-in tools for managing change

  • Sensible access controls: LiquidPlanner has four levels of access control: Admins, Managers, Full Members, and Restricted Members. Everyone can see all projects except for Restricted Members who can only see projects they have been granted access to. Members’ ability to re-prioritize and re-organize work items can be limited; this can be useful when bringing on new members who need to get up to speed on LiquidPlanner’s model.
  • Change History: Every item in your workspace has change information automatically tracked along with it. You can get a digest of these changes by opening the edit panel and reviewing the History section at the bottom of the page.
  • Change notifications: LiquidPlanner sends change notification emails. The system will automatically keep you informed of changes to items you own, create or follow.  By adjusting the number of Packages, Project, or Tasks you follow as well as adjusting your notification settings, you can fine tune the amount of notifications you get from LiquidPlanner. Additionally, there’s a “Show Recent Changes” view in LiquidPlanner where you can see all recent activity in your workspace or only changes made to items you own or are following.
  • Done, but not forgotten: When you mark items done in LiquidPlanner, the task is merely hidden from the default filter which is “Active” items. You can always change your filter to show Done items (or all items) and get a clear picture of the past. This is why marking things done versus deleting then is a best practice in LiquidPlanner.
  • Smart trash: When someone does delete a plan item, it’s not gone yet. Deleted items will remain in the trash for 30 days.  Even if the plan is re-organized or prioritized, items in the trash can be undeleted and restored to their right places complete with tracking history and collaboration content as though it never happened.
  • Automatic alert flags: LiquidPlanner has a system for raising yellow and red flags on items in your project portfolio. For instance, if you disconnect a member, tasks owned by that person will get yellow flagged.  If you set a deadline, flags will be raised if the scheduling engine senses a risk of hitting the deadline. Likewise, if you set a Max Hours budget on an item, a red flag will be raised if the schedule engine sees an expected total that exceeds the budget.
  • Trend reports: LiquidPlanner has built in trend charts so that you can see changes at a glance in tracking, estimation and expected finishes over time.
  • Automatic baselines: LiquidPlanner automatically takes a snapshot of your schedule every day so that you can easily compare the current schedule against a date in the past. You can also snap a manual baseline after important planning events.  Using the Baseline View will visually show changes in expected finishes, and clicking on schedule bars will show changes in effort estimation. LiquidPlanner Analytics provides additional tools for analyzing and reporting on changes. 
  • Powerful filtering: LiquidPlanner has comprehensive filtering of the Projects view so you can build and save views that you use to monitor changes based on your criteria. For example it’s easy to build a view that just shows tasks updated in the last three days that are owned by you.
  • On hold: A small but useful feature for managing change is to put tasks and projects on hold until a planning issue is resolved. Items that are on hold will not schedule and will not show up on team members “My Work” views.
  • Developer support: If you’re building custom solutions via the LiquidPlanner API, we support Webhooks processing.  Webhooks are push notifications triggered by events in LiquidPlanner. An event is the creation or update of a record such as a comment or task. The notification consists of JSON that is POSTed over HTTPS to a target URL that you specify.

Common questions related to changes

  • I’m worried about people messing things up by editing – is this a big issue?
    Many teams that are new to cloud collaboration tools have this concern, initially; however, it’s rarely an issue in practice. Teams quickly find that once people are aware of the social edit model and are empowered to edit responsibly, problems are rare. When issues do occur they’re generally easy to correct. For example, let’s say somebody put in an estimate for 10d – 20d, when they actually meant to estimate in hours. To correct this, just enter the updated estimate. The change that most managers fear most is re-organizing the portfolio. While this does not typically turn out to be an issue, it can be addressed by limiting this privilege in member settings.
  • Is there an “Undo”?
    No, there is not. Multiple people on the team can all be making updates at the same time and LiquidPlanner is a very dynamic system.  It’s best to have a user think about how they want to handle an unintended change. Operations that are more sensitive, such as deleting a task with tracked time attached, will show an alert message before a user can take action.
  • Can I revert to an earlier point in time?
    While we have a sophisticated Baseline system, the data snapshots only represent the analytical results of the scheduling engine at those points in time where the snapshot was taken. Given that many collaborative updates (e.g., comments and file uploads) might have occurred, reverting would be highly impractical or at least very tricky.  Think of this like rewinding the clock on Facebook two weeks; very tricky to do.  All of our features for managing change are designed to keep you from getting into trouble in the first place so that you don’t have the need to go back in time.