LiquidPlanner is a predictive online project management platform that provides a visual tool for looking back over a project to see how it changed and why. LiquidPlanner has added a retrospective timeline view and baseline capability into its full solution. The new baseline support can prove key to answering difficult questions such as:
- Why is the project slipping?
- Which team members' time estimates are the most or the least accurate?
- How good is our team at evaluating project scope at the kickoff meeting?
LiquidPlanner automates baseline features that otherwise would mean taking manual baseline snapshots in Microsoft Project and other more traditional desktop project management applications. LiquidPlanner also combines the baseline features with analytics to enable you to produce and share reports on key performance indicators.
New project baseline features
These are new baseline features that will help your team conduct an honest post mortem of a project schedule.
- Retrospective Timeline view offers a quick overview of the project start time, milestones, start delays, and dependencies. LiquidPlanner's usability extends to this feature, making the view accessible to the entire project team.
- Baseline feature compares the current status of your project to an earlier status with the visual story of how your project changed over time. This includes baseline analytics reports.
- Schedule bar metrics popup appears whenever you hover your cursor over a schedule bar. Click the bar to view detailed information, including an estimate of remaining time, change metrics, and time logged on the project.
- View menu is where you access schedule bars and reports.
LiquidPlanner gave me access to a demo environment, so I was able to try out the new baseline features.
Setting a project baseline
1. Go to the LiquidPlanner Project Workspace where
the project resides.
2. Click Projects to open the project. It will look similar to Figure A.
An open project in LiquidPlanner (See an enlarged view of this image.)
3. Open the View menu (Timeline is the default setting) to access the Baseline and all your standard reports, including Status, Workload, Remaining, Total Trending, and Data Drift. The Baseline option appears (Figure B).
Project Baseline (See an enlarged view of this image.)
4. Click the blue box that shows the current date. A pop-up box will appear that is similar to Figure C.
Automatic Baselines/Named Baselines (See an enlarged view of this image.)
5. While LiquidPlanner snaps project baselines automatically on a daily basis, there may be situations when you want to add a baseline manually. In such cases, select a date from the Timeline Control and click Add Selected Date To The List. The Name Automatic Baseline dialog box appears (Figure D).
Name Automatic Baseline dialog box (See an enlarged view of this image.)
6. Enter a name for the baseline.
7. Click OK.
The named baseline will appear in the Named Baselines list.
LiquidPlanner makes it easy to compare baselines. I think this is a good feature for new users in particular to experiment with because it helps them see how a team schedules a project.
Follow these steps to compare project baselines:
1. Select the automatic baseline from the calendar to compare to your current project schedule and click Compare.
2. From the output, you can click the bar for more details. Figure E shows the details of a task that is at-risk.
An at-risk project task (See an enlarged view of this image.)
Run baseline reporting
Analytics is one of LiquidPlanner's many strengths. Three new baseline-reporting features are available in LiquidPlanner that can help you gain an even greater insight into project schedules.
Follow these steps to run baseline reporting:
1. Click Analytics to open the Analytics page, which looks similar to Figure F. New Baseline comparison reporting options are available on the New Report side menu.
LiquidPlanner Analytics page (See an enlarged view of this image.)
2. Click Project Baseline to run the Project Baseline report. Baseline projects meeting the criteria appear at the bottom of the report. From the top of the report, you have views over the Finish and Hours Total.
3. Click Task Baseline to open the Task Baseline Report. The top of the report lets you view by Hours Total. The bottom of the report includes baseline tasks that meet the reporting criteria.
4. Click Client Baseline to open the Client Baseline Report. The top of the report lets you view by Hours Total. Baseline clients that meet the criteria appear at the bottom of the report.
LiquidPlanner again breaks from convention with its new baseline feature, which further extends its platform's views and analytics. This addition to the platform also democratizes another much needed project management feature and related reporting, which were previously a luxury for project teams.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.