Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Liquid Planner and SmartSheet

Pretty much everything we do involves project management. Projects take on different shapes and sizes, from a few tasks done by one person to 20 year NASA projects involving hundreds of thousands of pieces and people. Perhaps for that reason of having a variety of different projects types and sizes, project management has become one of the most contested domains in web applications (office 2.0 applications). I’ve already covered such formidable web PM applications as CentralDesktop and Basecamp in my previous posts. I’ve also received quite a few inquiries from the vendors in the past couple of months to review their solutions. While they all do a fine job at allowing one to document projects and manage tasks, most of them fall short of heavy-duty project management. When I say heavy-duty, I mean projects that have task dependencies, lots of uncertainties, shifting priorities, surprises (what is boringly called change management), resourcing issues, etc. Best-of-breed project management systems like MS Project (IF USED RIGHT) are quite good at handling this dynamic, uncertainty-ridden challenge, however up until recently I have not seen a web app equivalent that approached complex project handling.

That’s until I checked out LiquidPlanner.
You can tell a system that’s been patched together by couple of engineers over couple of month’s worth of time from a system that’s been constructed by a dedicated team with good domain knowledge. Liquid Planner is one such fine system. From a very usable interface (separate post on that subject), to a very potent feature set, I believe they are the first formidable web app competitor to MS office. Work breakdown, task dependencies, estimation that includes uncertainties, resource leveling, schedule recalculation, - they’ve got it all covered. They are based up in Redmond (Microsoft land) and seem to have assembled a very capable management team – I would bet good money on them making it big. Oh, did I mention that their pricing model is also the right one for the web, with easy to start and scale pricing plans.

Another project management tool that I’ve found recently is SmartSheet.com


– they’ve taken a very different route to project management. Actually, a very familiar one to most of us. They figured that most people manage everything with Excel (who said email was the killer app). So they’ve taken that paradigm and extended it to the project mgmt domain. You start with a blank spreadsheet and start adding things to it just as you would with Excel, with the exception that the spreadsheets are smart and can link tasks to each other, link owners, send emails, etc.. Really a very innovative and very likely successful approach.
I love both solutions and will be using them myself.

Other web project management products/projects reviewed:

7 comments:

Charles said...

Dan - Thank you for the review of LiquidPlanner. I really appreciate you noticing all the hard work our team has put into it. We spent two years building the product and many years before that as customers (victims?) of other project management solutions including the ones we built ourselves using Excel, SharePoint, and Project Server. Fixing project management is a "wicked problem" but we're pretty passionate about solving it.

Best regards,
Charles Seybold, CEO
LiquidPlanner.

Daria said...

Dan,
I think you might be interested in checking out Wrike. It uses yet different approach to project management and allows having multiple views on the same project. Besides that, we designed it to bridge the gap between email and project management software. It would be great to hear your point of view on our product.

Gil said...

The ultimate balance between ease of use and fundamental PM functionality is what we constantly strive for here at Clarizen. One should not come at the expense of the other as the end goal - team adoption, is compromised.
A pure Web 2.0 and SaaS model are necessary in order to be able to attract project teams both via grassroot adoption from large enterprises as well as nimble SMB teams.
This model has proven to be the key factor why customers are coming on board with Clarizen, leaving behind overly complex solutions (such as MS Project, AtTask, Daptiv and Primavera) or upgrading from basic solutions (such as BaseCamp, CentralDesktop and Zoho).
Indeed, I do work for Clarizen but we will be glad to put in touch any interested party with reference customers who can attest to these statements.

Keith said...

Thanks for the thoughts. I am just putting together a web project and will be working with programmers, strategizers and data entry personnel across the country and around the world. Have been using Basecamp but not quite satisfied and then came across Liquid Planner. Thinking I will try it out based on your recs.

Stand Strong, Live Epic!
Keith Carpenter

Anonymous said...

I think that it is worth giving a try to P2ware Planner Suite – project, programme and portfolio management software. There is a free demo version http://p2ware.com/en/Download.html.

More:
- http://p2ware.com/en/Screenshots.html
- http://p2ware.com/en/Enterprise.html

Anonymous said...

Also, WorkforceTrack.com is a good tool for project management and collaboration. We are using it efficiently and at affordable prices.

Peter Campberg said...

I have used a couple of tools for some of my client projects, that we had worked on. Normally the client suggests the tool that we need to use and therefore we came across some of them. Some features have really impressed us, such as iteration in less projects and simplicity in ZOHO. Precisely every project tracking software has its specialty.

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