capsule review

LiquidPlanner Web-Based Project Management App

At a Glance
  • LiquidPlanner, Inc. LiquidPlanner (Beta)

    PCWorld Rating

    LiquidPlanner makes it easy to organize team projects whether you've used project management software before or not.

Project-management software can help workers collaborate and organize their tasks, but many available applications don't always adapt to the way real teams actually work. That's why we like LiquidPlanner, a Web-based project-management app that--as its name implies--emphasizes the fluidity you often need in the real world.

Currently available as a free beta (the company hasn't announced a release date or pricing for the final version), LiquidPlanner provides a means of organizing, assigning, and tracking tasks. It also includes tools that are designed to help project managers keep everyone on deadline.

Because LiquidPlanner is Web-based, there's no software to download, which makes it quick and easy to set up. It is also easy to use, whether it's your first time trying out collaboration software or whether you're making a transition to it from a product such as Microsoft Project. It offers many of the same features as the latter application, but goes the extra mile in offering a "probabilistic scheduling" feature that allows for more-realistic task scheduling.

This tool allows you to set a range of dates during which a project may be completed; you can, for example, estimate that a task will be completed in three to five days. Most software programs require you to pick a single date for the completion of your project. While it would be great if all your projects were complete on your target date, that's not always the reality. LiquidPlanner's flexibility reflects the way projects develop in the real world.

Another neat feature is the ability to invite a "virtual member" to the team so that you can begin assigning tasks and projects to a team member when a specific individual hasn't yet been chosen for the job. LiquidPlanner has easy-to-use management and tracking functions that make it possible for the project leader to keep tabs on the work being done by others on the team.

Most of LiquidPlanner's collaboration features are on a par with its competition--including Microsoft Project, which has set the standard in this area. It allows you to invite anyone, employee or not, to join your virtual space and work together with you on projects.

LiquidPlanner also makes prioritizing personal and team tasks an easy job. The service uses a personal dashboard; on it, your tasks appear as a priority, but you can also view the tasks of the entire team. You can readjust your priorities easily to adapt to changes taking place in the project's progress.

LiquidPlanner allows you to see when tasks need your attention by using a flag system that provides easily-identifiable icons on your dashboard page. So the "at risk," "on watch," and "needs update" flags, for example, keep you on task and aware of what's going on. Unfortunately, as the system is currently set up, you need to log in to your dashboard and keep an eye on it for these updates. The company says that there will eventually be a function that lets you push this information to e-mail so that you don't have to regularly log in to know how the status of things has changed. However, that function's release date is not currently known.

Most project-management programs are designed with the ideal situation in mind, but in reality, projects usually don't go as originally scheduled. LiquidPlanner allows more flexibility in organizing and reorganizing tasks in response to real-world delays and circumstances. With its easy-to-use interface, LiquidPlanner is a good team player, no matter what type of team you're on.

--Kathryn Vercillo

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    LiquidPlanner makes it easy to organize team projects whether you've used project management software before or not.

    Pros

    • Organizational approaches mirror real-world usage
    • Easy-to-use, well-designed interface

    Cons

    • Post-beta pricing is unclear
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