LiquidPlanner is a project management solution with predictive capabilities and an automated scheduling system that focuses on task prioritization. The tool estimates how long it will take team members to complete tasks and projects by taking into account availability, priorities, and vacations. In addition, LiquidPlanner offers businesses useful tools for redistributing work amongst employees, especially when priorities shift or when a new project comes onto the scene.
Since LiquidPlanner helps teams streamline projects through its scheduling and forecasting technology, it is particularly suited for medium to large businesses. It is also a highly specialized tool, so teams should invest some time into learning the software in order to unlock its full benefits.
In this LiquidPlanner review, we will explore project management features, pricing, ease of use, add ons, and more.
What is LiquidPlanner?
LiquidPlanner is a dynamic online project management software that uses range estimates and a predictive, resource-based scheduling system to determine accurate project deadlines. The company was founded in Seattle in 2006, with its first public beta version released two years later in 2008. Over the years, LiquidPlanner has received numerous awards such as “Company of the Year” in 2011 or the “Innovation Award” from Info-Tech Research Group in 2011 and 2012.
LiquidPlanner was built using Ruby on Rails and is touted as the first SaaS-based project management software that accounts for uncertainty within projects. Today, LiquidPlanner is used by companies such as T-Mobile, G5, Alaska, and more.
Facts and Figures
|Founder||Charles Seybold, Jason Carlson|
LiquidPlanner Project Management Features
LiquidPlanner's automatic scheduling features help businesses manage workloads while evenly distributing tasks amongst team members. Teams can work on tasks with confidence, while allowing LiquidPlanner to calculate project timelines based on workload, resources, and staff availability. It also enables team members to collaborate with each other, clients, and external vendors using a myriad of communication tools such as comments and Project Portals. Though not designed for Agile project management, IT teams can still practice Scrum strategies via Kanban boards.
When it comes to project planning, LiquidPlanner helps teams recognize and manage the unpredictability of projects. With Kanban boards and Gantt charts, teams can track work through multiple data views and break down tasks into subtasks if needed. LiquidPlanner’s forecasting algorithm also helps teams predict tasks’ durations and automatically generates start and end dates. Last but not least, LiquidPlanner’s reporting tools give project managers full control over their projects and provide detailed analysis of the team’s performance.
The Gantt chart feature helps teams create and prioritize work according to a project timeline. It shows when a task was completed and how it compares against the original time estimate for that task. Teams can toggle the Gantt chart timeline to days, weeks, months, or quarters by clicking on the scale indicator.
If there is a dependency between two tasks, LiquidPlanner’s dynamic scheduling algorithm will also automatically calculate the expected start and finish date and display an updated project timeline.
LiquidPlanner’s Kanban boards are called “Card View”, allowing teams to visually keep track of the status of different work items. Project managers can add task durations, assignees, and priority levels. It is also possible to move cards from one workflow to another via drag and drop. Project managers can filter tasks according to custom fields, such as deadlines, checklist items, project types, and more.
LiquidPlanner has an excellent task management system. Teams can add tasks in several ways: via the Projects, My Work, or Timesheet tab, via email, or via the Intake Widget. If multiple team members are collaborating on a task, LiquidPlanner allows project managers to assign all of them the same task. The Edit Menu also brings up task options such as exporting, printing, emailing, and linking a task. All tasks also have their own unique ID numbers.
Liquidplanner also establishes a team member’s workload according to priority, with urgent tasks and tasks with longer durations appearing at the top of a user’s account. For example, if a team member has an 8-hour work day and has a task requiring six hours to be completed, LiquidPlanner’s prioritization system will allocate this task a full day to be finished.
LiquidPlanner gives project managers the ability to create custom reports that provide valuable insights into the team’s performance. LiquidPlanner also features a set of ready-made progress reports, including workload reports, project status reports, and personal status reports. These reporting tools come in handy for monitoring the progress of a project and keeping an eye on how much work needs to be completed before the deadline.
Communication & Collaboration
With all workloads automatically generated, LiquidPlanner allows teams to easily collaborate without schedule conflicts and delays. In addition to leaving comments on work items, LiquidPlanner also enables users to share their dashboards and schedules with each other. External collaboration with clients is also possible with the Projects Portal, which gives clients limited access to project information. Depending on which paid plan a user has subscribed to, workspace storage limits range from 100GB to 500GB.
Teams using LiquidPlanner have the ability to upload, store, and organize files via the Edit Panel. Files can be uploaded directly from the computer or via a third-party platform such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box. Team members can toggle between Grid view and List view and add notes to files for version control. Each uploaded file has a file size limit of 100MB. On the Professional and Enterprise plans, total file storages are limited to 100GB and 500GB respectively.
LiquidPlanner’s external collaboration tool, Project Portals, enables teams to work with clients and vendors without requiring additional user licenses. Portal guests can only view specific tasks assigned to them, project-level schedule status, and other key details like expected finish dates and deadlines. They can also utilize collaboration features such as comments, notes, links, attachments, and email notifications.
While portal guests can create and own tasks, they are unable to estimate tasks or log progress. A workspace member must estimate and log progress on the behalf of a portal guest.
Teams can participate in real-time discussions about work by adding comments. Comments can be added via the work item’s Edit Panel, the workspace activity stream, timesheets, or email integration. Users can also direct comments to specific workspace members using the @ symbol or address the entire project group using @All. The discussion feature also supports markdown style, files, images, and links, making it possible to communicate a wide variety of ideas and feedback.
Resource Allocation & Planning
LiquidPlanner particularly excels at resource planning and allocation, thanks to its automated scheduling features. Besides being able to track time spent on tasks, teams can also export timesheets and send them directly to clients. It allows teams to drag and drop tasks according to priority and predicts how the tasks’ time estimates will affect the entire project timeline. LiquidPlanner also takes into account vacation days and sick leave before suggesting new start and end dates for tasks.
Teams using LiquidPlanner can track time spent on tasks using the in-built timer function or enter work hours manually into a timesheet. Both options can be exported as timesheet-friendly formats such as XML and CSV and sent directly to clients. Only one timer can be active at a time, though users have the option of adding multiple time entries to a single task.
With LiquidPlanner, project managers can better manage tasks and measure task durations against team members’ workloads and availability. For example, if a team member goes on vacation, LiquidPlanner provides a report on what tasks will be affected or delayed while this user is away. This helps the team figure out which tasks to get started on first.
LiquidPlanner supports priority-based scheduling, which allows teams to order work items according to priority. Without assigning start and end dates, teams can simply drag and drop tasks in a hierarchical order and let LiquidPlanner predict a range of estimated start and end dates. For any given task, LiquidPlanner takes into account the team’s availability and resources, as well as any potential delays or dependencies that might affect the task. Once a task is updated with new start and finish dates, the entire project timeline is also automatically updated to reflect the new changes.
Agile Project Management
Agile project management is basically only available through Scrum methods like Kanban. LiquidPlanner is not the best choice for a project management tool exclusively used by IT teams, but companies with a lot of cross-team collaboration may find it useful for project managers and teams to work directly with the IT team.
Agile frameworks in LiquidPlanner are only possible through the Kanban boards, which allow teams to plan their own sprint developments by customizing columns and tasks. While LiquidPlanner does not have a template for IT-based tasks, teams can also track bugs and capture important information using LiquidPlanner’s custom fields.
LiquidPlanner has two pricing plans available and offers teams a 14-day free trial with full access to all features in the Professional plan. While the Professional plan is best-suited for small businesses that juggle a few projects at a time, the Enterprise version is targeted at large organizations that manage a big amount of projects.
On the Professional plan, teams gain access to time-tracking, analytics, phone and email support, 100GB document storage, and 2000 active tasks. On the Enterprise plan, teams unlock greater benefits such as unlimited clients, resource workload reports, 500GB document storage, and API access.
Note that these pricing lists are simplified for the purposes of this LiquidPlanner review. For more information, visit the LiquidPlanner pricing page.
The protection of customer data is a top concern for LiquidPlanner. All customer data is hosted and stored in Amazon Web Services data centers and geographically distributed with strict security controls. LiquidPlanner promises a 99.9% service-level agreement for monthly availability, and the company also complies with data regulation standards such as the GDPR.
LiquidPlanner runs a host-based Intrusion Detection System and scans for vulnerabilities in the system daily. Two-Factor Authentication is available with Single Sign-on, and the company’s facilities are protected with electronic surveillance, keycard access, a reception desk. All devices are centrally managed.
LiquidPlanner integrates with Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Zapier, and Webhooks. Compared to other project management solutions, LiquidPlanner does not offer as many integrations. There is also no in-built messaging available, so businesses will have to download a separate tool like Slack. However, businesses have access to LiquidPlanner’s API, which allows them to develop their own integrations if needed.
- Google Drive
As a specialized project management tool with plenty of technical features, LiquidPlanner’s interface requires some learning time. It features an abundance of menus and customization options which make it flexible and adaptable, but may be overwhelming for a new user.
With that said, the LiquidPlanner interface is clean and organized, ensuring that users can find their way around easily as soon as they are familiar with the software. LiquidPlanner’s training videos and written tutorials can also help users learn the ropes of the tool.
LiquidPlanner is available on both iOS and Android devices. The mobile apps allow team members to create and edit tasks, view attached files, as well as participate in discussions. Nonetheless, the mobile apps do not come with the full features of the web version. Teams should consider using the mobile apps as a supplement, rather than a replacement, for the web app. However, the mobile apps are easy to use, with a structured and intuitive interface.
LiquidPlanner offers the following customer support options:
Knowledge base: LiquidPlanner users can make use of the self-serve help center to master the basics of using the software. Written tutorials are categorized into sections such as “LiquidPlanner Basics” and “Set Up and Configure the Workspace” to help users easily locate the help they need.
Training videos: LiquidPlanner’s specialized training videos enable users to learn the ins and outs of the tool at their own pace.
Direct support: Teams can reach LiquidPlanner’s support staff by phone, email, or form submission. Phone support is available Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 6PM Pacific Time.
LiquidPlanner is a solid project management solution with predictive scheduling capabilities, designed to help teams deliver projects on time. However, small teams that do not require such advanced and technical tools should consider less complex options, such as:
LiquidPlanner is an innovative and predictive project management software that not only helps teams manage and track work, but also monitor precious resources such as time and staff availability. Its scheduling capabilities set it apart from other project management tools, enabling teams to more accurately estimate the length of projects and tasks. It also boasts other robust tools such as Kanban boards, Gantt charts, external collaboration features, real-time discussions, progress monitoring, and more.
With the software being so highly specialized and complex, there is a steep learning curve to overcome before teams can fully utilize the tool. LiquidPlanner also does not have in-built messaging and is an expensive option compared to other project management software. At the end of the day, LiquidPlanner is best suited for medium to large businesses looking to improve their workflows using predictive software.