|Effective automatic scheduling function||Nothing groundbreaking in terms of functionality|
|Clever organization of functions|
|Good help section|
With LiquidPlanner, gone are the days of tediously creating tasks and specifying start and end dates for every single one. The system provides the ability to do automatic scheduling by using supplied data alongside information that is in the system such as task owner’s availability and workload. All the project manager needs to do is create the task with an estimated time and priority, and LiquidPlanner takes care of the rest. This will also minimize errors as the system is doing much of the calculating, reducing the risk and rate of human error. The system recognizes that projects often do not go exactly to schedule, so if any tasks are adjusted, then LiquidPlanner will take care of the rest and readjust other tasks that may need to be changed in order to ensure smooth flowing of the project and also to minimize the work required of the project manager.
The user interface is fairly aesthetic and in general, the menus make it easy for users to find the desired section. Many alternative online project management systems have a good looking user interface, but are lacking in regards to the layout of the elements on the page. LiquidPlanner gets this part right (for the most part) by organizing functions appropriately under various menus. However, some system functions are not very obvious, which we will discuss further in the Ease of Use section. See the below screenshots for an example of the menus.
The [Add] Menu
The [Collaboration] Menu
A key feature within LiquidPlanner is known as Workspace. It is a shared area in which users join to participate in projects. This is not limited to people actually working on the project, and provides an additional feature known as the Project Portal, to allow for outsiders such as stakeholders and/or clients to be able to view what is happening with the project, and also provide their input, whether it be feedback, additional specifications, revision requests, or similar.
The project section allows the project manager to create projects and assign new tasks to projects. Sub-folders can also be created to ensure maximum organization of tasks. A notable feature of LiquidPlanner is the fact that it has full drag-and-drop support; users can drag tasks between folders to reorganize them. Additionally, will run automatic scheduling of all the tasks (including recently added tasks) when the [Refresh] button is clicked, and the schedule is determined by the priority of the task – tasks higher up have more priority.
Commenting and Collaboration
LiquidPlanner supports the ability to add comments both to the entire project or individual tasks. This allows all project members and users to communicate and keep each other up to date. The system also supports an ‘@ Format’ which people can use to address others. See the below screenshot for an example, ignoring the fact that this person is talking to them self as it is for example purposes only.
Compared to other online project management and collaboration systems, LiquidPlanner is somewhere in the middle. Page loads and section transitions were tested on multiple internet connections and computers and it most aspects of the system load in approximately 1-3 seconds. While this wait may seem insignificant, consider this wait time multiplied by every page load, for every user, for every task, for every project.
Ease of Use
As mentioned in the user interface section, LiquidPlanner has a fairly good interface, which would lead you to believe that it would promote the systems usability; however, the system is not quite as easy to use as you may think. While all the buttons and functions are there in front of you, the system just isn’t particularly intuitive and we found ourselves having to refer to the help section in order to find information and steps regarding many of the processes. That being said, the help section is quite useful, it provides good tutorials and videos, and even provides transcripts for the videos in the event that you would prefer to read what the trainer is saying.
The above screenshot is only a very small excerpt from the help section. This proves that LiquidPlanner is extremely adequate at offering help and support, thus balancing out the fact that the system functions are not always intuitive.
While LiquidPlanner looks fairly appealing and has a few good features, nothing particularly stands out and sets it above the alternatives. It will definitely get the job done, but for project managers looking for a system with all the bells and whistles, consider some alternatives to find something that may be more robust in functionality. It will still certainly provide all the tools to be able to manage a project efficiently, but the project manager must determine if it is suitable for the types of projects that they will be managing.