LiquidPlanner 2.0: Scheduling + ‘Twitter’

“Every day is pancake day,” says Charles Seybold, co-founder and CEO of LiquidPlanner. “Any excuse.” It’s Shrove Tuesday, traditional day for pancakes, and I haven’t had any. What I have had is a look at the new version of LiquidPlanner that was released yesterday.

The main differences since I last looked at it in May are the ways in which the development team have understood and incorporated the way in which people interact with technology due to the explosion of social networking and Web 2.0 tools.

“A project team is a small social network,” says Charles. “Since launching the LiquidPlanner beta just over a year ago, we’ve learned a tremendous amount about the dynamics of project management and how a new generation of collaboration technologies can help teams meet their business objectives. LiquidPlanner is social project management for teams that want to empower their people to get things done, not constantly task and badger them. By combining advanced project management functionality with smart collaboration capabilities, LiquidPlanner puts people at the center of the project management equation.”

He explains that they took a long look at Twitter and Wikipedia and found themselves inspired by what the tools could do. “Commenting works well with project management. Every task is set up as a conversation thread and Workspace Chatter is fully integrated with all other planning tasks.”

I was sceptical. The publicity blurb says:

LiquidPlanner’s new “Workspace Chatter” feature provides all project members with a dashboard-based chat application where they can comment about specific tasks, ask general questions, or solicit feedback on ideas – providing a coordinated communication framework that is fully integrated into their project plan.

I believe that project managers should focus more on working the way other people work, not giving them more tools that they need to log into and update. If your project team are comfortable using existing collaboration tools then we should adapt, not them. When Charles told me that the microblogging feature was just like Twitter I thought not another website to look at.

Actually, it is nothing like Twitter. Seeing it in real life made a lot of sense and marketing it as planning-with-Twitter is doing it a disservice. Although it might just be me who was calling it that.

The clever bit is that the history, documents and comments all move with the task, so if you reschedule or move it around on the plan for whatever reason, nothing is lost. “Project information is valuable,” Charles adds.

The other “flagship” feature added to this version worthy of mention is timesheets. Apparently people were asking for this. Some weeks my team and I barely have time to read emails, let alone complete timesheets so this is not functionality I would be keen to adopt. I get cold sweats thinking about the horror of Niku timesheet reporting – even now, years later. Still, it takes all sorts. If you are working on a time and materials basis and billing your customer you will need time recording so you might as well have it all in one package. Good luck to you. At least your timesheets will look pretty with the redesigned look and feel.

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