Preparing for Liftoff - LiquidPlanner

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Preparing for Liftoff

liftoff-squareIntroducing a new tool is an exciting time! You’ve finally found a solution that will help you and your team do great work. But, there’s that lingering little detail of getting your team to adopt the new solution. Where do you start?

From our experience with hundreds of onboarding engagements, customers that approach their LiquidPlanner adoption with an organized plan tend to be the most successful. Think of adopting a new tool like running a project. If you’ve got a plan in place, you’ll have a higher chance of success.

The six steps in this guide will help you create a solid implementation plan and hit the ground running with LiquidPlanner.

Before starting your transition to LiquidPlanner, make sure that you are familiar with the basics.

Step 1. Pick your key players

Every project needs a project manager and your LiquidPlanner roll-out is no exception. The first step is to identify a strong champion to drive the implementation and act as a mobilizer for the team. Now and in the future, they will be the point-of-contact for all things LiquidPlanner. Having an appointed champion is key to long-term adoption, and if you’re reading this guide, that person might be you!

Getting executive buy-in is also important at this early stage. The leadership within your organization needs to stand up and motivate the team by saying, “This is important, and here’s why.” Partner with an executive sponsor to help communicate the benefits of using a project management solution and to help support its continued usage.

Step 2. Set goals

Learning how to use LiquidPlanner features is important, but be sure to place just as much emphasis on goals and processes during the transition. Start by asking the question, “What is our goal in using LiquidPlanner?”

Common responses are:

“We want to keep track of our projects.”
“Project management.”
“Uhhh, to keep everything in one place?”

These answers are a good start, but they won’t help you get results. Make sure to identify specific areas in which you’d like LiquidPlanner to improve the way your team works.

Some examples are:

“Help PMs identify at-risk projects and tasks sooner so they can proactively mitigate the risk, rather than putting out fires after the project is late.”
“We want to show the effect of new and changing priorities to our schedule.”
“Get a better understanding for how resources are being utilized to make the business case for expanding the team.”

Once you’ve identified one or two specific goals, write them down. You’ll be looking back to them in the following steps.

Step 3. Set up the workspace

Now that you’ve decided what you want to get out of using LiquidPlanner, architect your workspace to reach that goal. The best way to start is by reflecting on your business processes so that you can structure your workspace to match the way your team works. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • On the Projects tab, add packages to build your plan structure. A simple plan structure that clearly shows general priority by grouping projects that are in progress separately from those that are pending is a good place to start.
  • Resist the urge to organize your packages and projects based on groupings like team function or product line — you’ll use attributes like teams, custom fields, or tags, to categorize your work instead. Once these attributes are set up, you’ll be able to filter, measure progress, and run meaningful reports from the get-go.

Read this article for more information on Setting Up the Workspace.

You can add or import your current projects at any time and easily re-organize them as you go. It’s not necessary to have all of your team member accounts set up in order to start adding work. You can use virtual members to represent the people you will eventually invite into your workspace. Once you’re ready for your team to start using LiquidPlanner, you’ll invite specific people to replace the virtual members.

Step 4. Plan your roll-out

Decide up front if you will take a phased roll-out approach or if you will bring everyone onboard all at once. In a phased approach, invite a small team or department into your workspace to be a part of the first implementation group. This group is usually comprised of project managers and early adopters who will help identify how to optimize the plan structure and process. It’s also a good idea to identify a few “power users” or experts that can help answer questions when you bring on the full team.

You’ll want to decide what access level and permissions each member will have before you start inviting people into the workspace. Be sure to identify a few members with administrator level access. Administrators are necessary for managing workspace administration in the absence of the workspace owner. You can learn more in our Member and Guest Access FAQs.

After your implementation group has made LiquidPlanner a part of their daily routine, take a step back and re-evaluate the process. What’s working well and what’s not? Update your plan structure and processes as needed.

Step 5. Create a playbook

By now, you might have noticed that LiquidPlanner is flexible and fully customizable, which is great because it can be molded to fit your existing business processes. It also means that there are usually multiple ways to do one thing, like assigning tasks or prioritizing work.

Specifying how your team should use LiquidPlanner in a documented playbook will help everyone be more productive and reach the goals that you identified. Be sure to explicitly state who is responsible for what, how different workflows should be managed, and when various actions should be taken.

Setting guidelines upfront is the single most important thing you can do when transitioning your team to LiquidPlanner. It’s also something that requires dedicated time and forethought.

Use the LP Playbook template so that you don’t have to start from scratch!

Step 6. Schedule a kickoff meeting

When you’re ready to bring on a wave of new people, present the initiative to use LiquidPlanner in an LP Kickoff meeting. Start by stating your goal so that your team can understand why using LiquidPlanner is so critical for your organization and to get them excited about this new initiative. Then, share your playbook and links to LiquidPlanner training resources.

We’ve created some onboarding guides for different user groups to help you introduce LiquidPlanner and set expectations for daily use, which are available in the User Guides section.

Learn how to run a great kickoff and download the sample presentation from our LP Kickoff guide!

Final thoughts…

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind as you onboard your team:

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current business processes and use this time to focus on the successes and drop what’s not working. While this exercise might not be easy, having a well-defined process is critical to the success of your LiquidPlanner implementation.
  • Create a project in LiquidPlanner to organize and track your onboarding plan. You can modify the Getting Started with LiquidPlanner project that comes with your new workspace or you can create your own.
  • Use LiquidPlanner during meetings to show project status or reporting information. By demonstrating how LiquidPlanner works, you’ll be encouraging consistent use and will help team members get comfortable with the tool.

If you take the time to set goals, map out processes, and communicate the “why” to your team, your onboarding experience will be much more organized and successful. You’ll also get a return on your investment a lot faster. Once your team is up and running with LiquidPlanner, you’ll wonder how you ever managed all of your projects without it!

Preparing for Liftoff was last modified: October 14th, 2016 by Zareen Maurer

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