How We Work: LiquidPlanner Customer Chesterfield County Public Schools
We love to check in with our customers and hear about their work habits. And naturally, we’re always eager to hear the real-life stories of how teams use LiquidPlanner to improve the way they manage projects. This month, we talked to David Eshelman, Director of Career and Technical Education, Chesterfield County Public Schools (CTE)—a system that provides support to teachers who are preparing students for future careers.
Here, he tells us how CTE uses LiquidPlanner to maintain 218 division projects, and organize, prioritize and estimate resources for 3,300-plus tasks. Plus more, read on!
Q: Why is project management software important to your business?
A: STRESS!! Too much institutional knowledge is in the heads of our staff. Now more than ever there’s an increased focus on the importance of college and career awareness. We needed a tool to support the GTD process. Tracking projects is a challenge for any organization. At Chesterfield County Public Schools, which oversees approximately 58,000-plus students enrolled at 63 schools in Virginia, the task is a real challenge.
Q: What’s one of your biggest challenges when it comes to managing projects?
A: In public education, there’s a need to wear many hats and manage many different initiatives. At Chesterfield County Public Schools, we need to manage a lot of data across a small team. In the past, we approached projects in a somewhat haphazard manner, using email, spreadsheets and ad hoc tools. The system we had in place was inefficient and prone to errors and problems.
With 216 courses in 11 different program areas and more than 200 teachers spanning 63 schools, that wasn’t good enough. We needed a system that could provide better visibility and oversight. We needed to pull analytical data and present it in a clear way, rather than having people view and update information manually.
Q: What would you say is the #1 way LiquidPlanner has helped your team or organization?
A: First, we needed a system that would support our requirements and collect knowledge and processes in one place. For instance, the district holds a professional development day every year. In order to make the event a success, it reaches out to more than 40 businesses for input and participation. Previously, a lot of the information and expertise was in people’s heads rather than in a database. We needed to have a system for recording all the different activities in a systematic way.
Many of our events, like a professional development day that we use to open the school year, are repetitive. Other areas of focus include succession planning, budgeting, performance reports, curriculum development and idea generation. One of the key benefits of the cloud-based approach is the ability to access data from anywhere and through virtually any device. Staff members use everything from Apple iPads to Microsoft Surface devices, as well as laptops, Chromebooks and PCs to access the system.
Q: What is the one piece of advice you wish you knew five years ago?
A: I wish I knew how extremely easy it is to pull analytical data and understand how people are using the project management tools. Using LiquidPlanner, staff members are able to classify tasks and assign them to activities or categories, such as high schools, middle schools, Governor Schools, and a career and technical center at two locations. This makes it much easier to understand resource allocation for different groups and clients.
As a result, we’re able to adjust staffing and manage other resources more effectively. Overall our team uses LiquidPlanner to maintain 218 division projects, and organize, prioritize and accurately estimate resources for 3,400-plus tasks. And those numbers continue to grow. We have been able to get knowledge out of people’s heads and into software.
The mind is best used for processing information and generating ideas rather than simply remembering things. We are now able to keep everyone in sync, manage personal and professional growth, and take planning and project management to a new and better level.
Q: What is a highlight of your workday?
A: Our highlight is seeing the notification with an upcoming Liquid Planner update. The anticipation of what lies ahead with Liquid Planner keeps us coming back. This tool has reduced work-related stress and enhanced our sense of “Getting Things Done.”
Could your PM process could be better? We’ve got just the tool for you! This 9-question multiple-choice quiz will diagnose the health of your project management tool and/or process. Take the quiz!