Category Archives: LiquidPlanner

Project Management tool for SaaS implementation projects

Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are mainly implemented using Agile Project Implementation Methodologies. As you can get access to your new hosted solution in the Cloud from day 1 when you become a new Client there is no need to wait for weeks before you can start using, configuring or testing your new solution. That’s a very big change compared to the on-premise solutions.

Configuring and testing is much easier as well than what we have seen on on-premise solutions. This means that we can engage the project team and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) into Design workshops in which we simply change some options and can quickly demonstrate the effects of this changes.This is not always true for all Design changes but the intent is to perform such interactive changes.

SaaS implementation changes: Prototyping + Collaboration

For SaaS solutions we will Design so-called Prototypes and iteratively do 3 Prototypes. Each changes that requires some more configuration time and effort will be done after the workshops.

Agile Methodology is the best option for managing Iterative integration projects.

This said, we cannot afford a project to not deliver on time and with expected scope and quality. It is still required (and even more then with on-premise solutions) to build a project plan with activities, tasks, assignees, dates, dependencies, costs…

But the big change here is linked to the iterations. Usually you build a Prototype “0” with some very high levels options and 3 series of workshop which deliver the work product which include the requirements and changes gathered and agreed within the workshop.

The initial Blueprint is lighter than what we were accustomed with the on-premise solutions. Changes after the SaaS Blueprint or Design document will be gathered in a Design Changes Document (DCD) usually a list of changes and decisions maintained in Excel.

Another big change in SaaS implementation is linked to the fact the end user always have the capability to follow-up and test the progress of its configuration in between the 3 series of Prototypes.

In other words you can easily collaborate with all team members and therefore co-construct your final solution.

Traditional vs. Agile implementation methodology

I think the best way to present you the differences between the traditional (or the so-called Waterfall approach) and the iterative Agile approach is to use 2 schematics:

The Waterfall approach

traditional-waterfall-development 3

The iterative Agile approach

scrum-iteration-detail 2Agile approach allows to start configuring earlier than Waterfall approach. So rather than delivering a huge change at the end of the project Agile iterative upgrades and avoid the “Technical debt“:

Compare waterfall to agile

So what does this mean from a Project Management point of view?

Building 3 Prototypes from a light Design Document in a collaborative organization means that you don’t know in advance all the Design Changes that will be required and therefore it is impossible to list all details tasks in advance and estimate the effort required.

Being a Project Manager my first reaction would be: THIS IS HIGH RISK!

But here is where a new approach of Project Management Methodology needs to be introduced. This is the case with LiquidPlanner PM tool.

I won’t explain here all the benefits of using this tool but just focus on 2 features.

LiquidPlanner: Estimating in Ranges

The set of ranged estimates in your project provides the data LiquidPlanner uses to statistically determine all of the possible schedule outcomes. This data appears on schedule bars in the Schedule tab.

Estimating-in-ranges-screenshot

Estimating in realistic ranges is one of the single best and easiest things you can do to improve your project outcomes.

Ranged estimation will change your team’s perspective on work and scheduling and move conversations from uncomfortable negotiations to open and honest dialogue about requirements and ways to work together constructively to get rid of uncertainty.

LiquidPlanner sees each range as a bell curve and uses it to calculate an expected completion date.

basic-probability

LiquidPlanner: Collaboration

Collaboration 2

Connected conversation threads

All conversations in LiquidPlanner are connected to tasks, because collaboration is more useful in context. Your homepage displays recent conversations grouped by tasks so you can keep up to date with what’s going on with your team.

Seamless file-sharing

You can upload and easily share virtually any type of file in your LiquidPlanner workspace. Photos, documents and PDFs can be uploaded from your hard-drive or popular third-party cloud storage service like Dropbox, Box and Google. Files are always attached to a plan item, meaning less time scouring through email to find what you’re looking for.

Email + calendar integration

Create tasks in seconds by simply sending email to your LiquidPlanner inbox, and reply to comments directly from email (your replies are captured automatically in LiquidPlanner). View tasks in your Outlook or Google calendar to keep on top of commitments and changing priorities.

More information and references:

Consider using a collaborative Project Management tool for SaaS implementation

Online Collaborative Project Management tools for SaaS implementation projects

SaaS tools are easy to access for all team members from the beginning of the implementation project. As they are deployed on the Cloud they can be accessed and shared with all members who will be part of the implementation project. Choosing the right Project Management tool can speed the project timelines, avoid reworks and ensure project deliverables meet initial requirements.

As SaaS solutions are frequently implemented based on Agile project methodologies it is recommended to use Collaborative Project Management tools. Agile concept focuses on project outcomes which are improved iteratively and requires fast and efficient communications when planning and tasks are reviewed.

Collaborative PM tools

There are many Collaborative Project Management tools on the market. It is important to check for some basic features:

  • All PM data for project planning must be accessible and editable online including the Gantt chart view
  • Personal Project Dashboard with summary of tasks assigned to each individual team member
  • Project settings must include access customizations to filter relevant data and tasks for each Team members
  • Notes, comments and documentations should be available on the task level
  • Tasks should be assigned to virtual resources during early planning phase and must be easily assigned when team members are on boarded
  • Billing rules can be defined and time sheets can be exported easily in common formats (CSV, XML…)
  • Reporting capabilities with integrated communication features for team members and external stakeholders

Some Collaborative PM tools

In 2014, more firms will move to cloud-based project management tools to support scheduling and collaboration. Innovative tools like LiquidPlanner, AtTask, ProjectManager.com, Wrike, and Gantter have useful project scheduling tools that are direct competitors with Microsoft Project. In 2013, Microsoft’s Project Online with Office 365 also introduced improved web-based scheduling with its flagship product. LiquidPlanner and AtTask have improved their project scheduling features to provide different ways to develop and manage a project schedule collaboratively.

Innovative project scheduling with LiquidPlanner

LiquidPlanner has very innovative features to plan and track project tasks. Most PM tools use start- and end-dates to plan activities and tasks. LiquidPlanner uses Effort Based Estimates combined with “Deadline” and “Delay until” dates and builds the project plan for you. Effort Based Estimates is assessed with a minimum and maximum duration (in minutes, hours or days) respectively the “Best case” and the “Worst case”. You can also determine the “Daily limit” in hours per day to plan your tasks more precisely.

LiquidPlanner is then planning Expected Start- and End-dates for you.

Here is how the task bars are displayed:

Task bar

Task bar

The “Finish [E]” is the earliest end-date of the task calculated by LiquidPlanner.

The below screen shows the work Effort Estimation with “Best case” and “Worst case” estimates:

Liquid Planner Effort Based EstimationHere is a general project planning with Gantt view :

Liquid Planner ProjectThere are many data to manage a task :

Screen 1

Liquid Planner Task DetailsScreen 2

Liquid Planner Task Details 2Screen 3

Liquid Planner Task Details 3This is the LiquidPlanner Homepage for a user :

Liquid Planner Home PageThe Timesheet review screen :

Liquid Planner Timesheet ReviewThe Timesheet data export view with billing info :

Liquid Planner Timesheet Export with billingHow you can setup the billing rules :

Liquid Planner Billing RulesAnalytics and reports :

Liquid Planner Report Tasks

Want to see how the benefits of estimating in ranges and integrating risks easily?

See this video on Liquidplanner site:

Liquidplaner video

Or use this link:

http://www.liquidplanner.com/support/articles/estimating-in-ranges/