still loving liquidplanner

I wonder how much time I’ve lost in my continual worrying about productivity software. Probably not enough to offset the gains I’ve made by finding things I like. OmniFocus still stores most of my personal todos, index cards still get a lot of my random notes, but LiquidPlanner remains my absolute favorite project planning tool for work.

LiquidPlanner sells itself as really helping you adapt to change and uncertainty, and all time estimates must be given as a range of best/worst case estimates. When I first saw LP and showed it to a friend, he said something like, “Wow, those guys sure know how to market to managers who eat that kind of crap up.”

I thought that was sort of overkill, but I do think that the “ranged estimates” is really not what makes me like LP so much. They’re nice. I think they help produce a realistic plan. Maybe with a larger team, I would like them even more. As it is, I think they’re just one feature. There are actually a lot of things that LP does that I see and say, “Ok. That’s a feature that doesn’t do anything for me.” I think I will ignore it.

The thing is that LiquidPlanner is just really good software with really good people behind it. Consider this statement, which may sound like faint praise: Everything that LiquidPlanner does is at least adequate. That is not faint praise, that is astounding! There is absolutely no part of LiquidPlanner for which I have to use a workaround. Every feature that I need exists, and all of them work properly.

LP has added a bunch of major features in the last few months. Probably embarassingly, I have not used any of them. I am really meaning to turn some of them on to see what happens. For the most part, I don’t like change. What’s more exciting to me is that every time they make a big new feature release, they add in a couple really serious, but subtle, usability enhancements. That is: this is not software that gets more and more bogged down over time by more and more UI. I can’t say for sure that there’s less UI than there used to be, but I sure click less to get the same amount of stuff done.

So, the bottom line is, in the last ten years, LP is the one piece of project planning software that I find entirely useful without needing any kind of clever house rules. MS Project did everything I wanted, but was ridiculously expensive for the collaborative form and did so much that the things I wanted were drowning in crap. Everything else I’ve tried has been sorely lacking in the few key features I want.

Last, but certainly not least, the support staff at LiquidPlanner is wonderful. I have never wanted to reach through my monitor and strangle a single one of them, and that’s saying a lot. In fact, the next time they are in my neighborhood, I will buy them (singly or collectively) a round of drinks.

They really know how their product is meant to be used, and they stick to their guns on those issues, which is probably why it’s not full of random crap that would make no sense. Very often questions are answered with, “What you’re asking doesn’t make sense in LiquidPlanner paradigm. Here is how we solve that problem.” It helps, of course, that the LiquidPlanner paradigm is a good one that fits well with my planning needs and our development cycle.

If you are currently using some piece of crap project planning system that you hate, check out LiquidPlanner. If you try it and don’t get it, bug me and I will show you how we use it and how well it works.

I will now resume my usual unintelligible rambling about Pod and email.

Written on May 29, 2009
liquidplanner   productivity