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Grow Your Business Technology

LiquidPlanner: Best Project Management Software for Large Teams

LiquidPlanner: Best Project Management Software for Large Teams Credit: LiquidPlanner

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend LiquidPlanner as the best project management solution of 2017 for large teams. We chose LiquidPlanner from dozens of project management solutions we considered. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of project management solutions on our best picks page.

LiquidPlanner is by far the most powerful and comprehensive online project management solution we reviewed. For large teams and enterprise companies aiming for high-quality project management software, LiquidPlanner is about as robust as they come.

Ready to choose a project management solution? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

LiquidPlanner does it all. Not only does it have every feature we looked for in a project management solution, but its tools allow users to gain in-depth insights into every facet of their projects. Here are the features available through the Enterprise-level pricing tier. Lower levels do not include every one of these features.

  • Core features – LiquidPlanner boasts strong core features, including the ability to create and manage multiple projects, assign and monitor the progress of tasks, and manage team members or subgroups assigned those tasks.
  • Tasks and subtasks – Task management in LiquidPlanner is, like most other features, robust. Assigning tasks to team members and subgroups is simple; the software automatically updates and alerts the necessary personnel when a task is completed or the timeframe for completion changes. Managers can also set and modify task priorities depending on the pace of the project and the urgency of each task.
  • Gantt charts – LiquidPlanner relies heavily on Gantt charts to give project managers a bird's eye view of their project, task deadlines and current progress. The drag-and-drop functionality common throughout much of LiquidPlanner's features is on display yet again in Gantt charts, which offer a clean, intuitive depiction of the current project timeline for team members, stakeholders and managers alike.
  • Permissions and access levels – Project managers have control over permissions and access levels for each user, restricting some team members' access while granting others administration powers. (This is especially important for large teams with a lot of moving parts.)
  • Time tracking – A built-in time tracker allows users to either run a clock while they work or manually fill in their time afterwards. It's a useful feature that helps managers monitor resource allocation and billable hours, helping ensure your bottom line remains healthy and that clients are informed each step of the way.
  • Client access – Speaking of keeping clients informed, LiquidPlanner offers a high level of client access, so a project's stakeholders can see what's going on in real time. This applies to clients across multiple projects and, depending on the subscription you select, quite a few can be active at any time. When a project is completed, those clients no longer contribute to the cap on the number of external users you're allowed under the enterprise plan.
  • External dashboards – External dashboards offer access to clients, business partners and others who might be contributing to a given project. Again, depending on which tier of service you choose, you'll be granted a maximum number of external dashboards at one time.
  • Custom fields – LiquidPlanner offers project managers wide berth when it comes to custom fields. Teams can use these fields to tailor the software to their unique workflows, lending more flexibility to the platform. The ability to add fields on the fly can help teams more quickly adapt to changing situations or unique projects.
  • Analytics – The analytics tool helps track the immense data saved by LiquidPlanner. Project managers can use this tool to review trends such as average project completion time, how teams work together, team member performance and workload. Ultimately, the analytics tool offers teams a way to leverage the data contained in the software to make better decisions.
  • API access – API access allows developers to create new integrations with other third-party applications or those developed in-house.
  • Resource workload report – Much like the analytics tool, project managers can leverage LiquidPlanner's reporting tools to better manage their resources and understand how much work is on each team member's or group's plate. If one member is overburdened while another has very little to do, managers can quickly reassign tasks and then LiquidPlanner will automatically update the rest of the project accordingly.
  • Single sign-on – Higher pricing tiers come with access to a single-sign on solution, which makes your team's access simpler and more secure.

One of the most impressive aspects of LiquidPlanner is its ability to track changes quickly and then automatically update every aspect of the project accordingly. For example, if one team member fails to complete an assigned task on time and the project manager is forced to reschedule or reassign it, every task that is dependent upon its completion will be updated as well. This allows for teams to make quick adjustments without having to revisit the entire calendar. Every team member will be able to access the system to be alerted in real time to any changes in the plan.

Part of this automated, dynamic approach is LiquidPlanner's ability to predict project completion dates, which takes the guesswork out of forecasting completion dates for multiple projects.

Finally, LiquidPlanner is able to analyze resource management and your team's everchanging priorities in order to determine the ultimate impact on expenses. Not only does this help project managers more effectively handle available resources, but it also means more accurate billing for your clients.

Ultimately, LiquidPlanner feels like a marriage of robust software and predictive technology. In a way, this project management solution feels more like an additional team member rather than just a tool. Other solutions, even the great ones, feel like software, but LiquidPlanner almost seems to have a mind of its own – in a very good way.

It's also worth mentioning that LiquidPlanner is highly flexible in that it can be used for tasks beyond project management. While our project management buyer's guide suggests that these solutions only be used for projects with a clear start and end date, LiquidPlanner is unique in that it can serve as a management tool for all kinds of work; it even excels at tracking ongoing, routine jobs that other project management solutions don't manage well.

LiquidPlanner is an expensive piece of software, but it's not hard to see why when you examine the impressive tools it offers. Unlike some of the other solutions we've reviewed, LiquidPlanner charges a per user/per month subscription fee. There are several pricing tiers, which are listed below with their costs and capabilities:

  • Small Team – $9.99 per user per month. Mandatory five users. Supports 250 active tasks, includes 5 gigabytes of document storage, comments on tasks and time tracking.
  • Professional – $39 per user per month. Minimum 10 users. Supports 2,000 active tasks, includes 100 gigabytes of storage, advanced analytics, 20 customer fields, and 10 external dashboards to allow access for clients and business partners. The professional tier also comes with an open API so your developers can integrate additional applications with LiquidPlanner. Guided onboarding is available at this level, which means your team will receive assistance in implementation and training.
  • Enterprise – $69 per user per month. Minimum 10 users. Unlimited active tasks, includes 500 gigabytes of storage space. Enterprise includes every feature in the professional tier, plus unlimited external dashboards for clients and partners, 50 custom fields, expense reporting, a single sign-on solution, and a resource workload report to help project managers better track their team's activities.

Each pricing tier comes with access to a 30-day free trial, at the end of which you maintain all your projects and data if you subscribe. LiquidPlanner is very complex, so it's worth giving it a spin first before deciding on buying it outright. Some companies might find it too comprehensive for their needs, while others will find a project management solution in a class of its own. Testing the waters first is key to determining whether such a serious program is right for your team.

Our customer service experience with LiquidPlanner was insightful and helpful, if a bit intimidating. The representative explained the software thoroughly, which took a while and meant a series of questions about some of the more in-depth features. However, we came away from our first call feeling well-informed, if a bit overwhelmed.

We did find the sales team a bit pushy at times, but never in a manner that really crossed the line. We were often reminded about just how powerful LiquidPlanner was and told that it was head and shoulders above the industry standard. The complexity of the program was not ignored, but we felt that it was downplayed more than it should have been. It bears repeating – the learning curve on this software is steep.

Ultimately, though, the customer support team was reliable and friendly. The only customer service drawback is that subscribers to the "small team" pricing tier only receive online help, while the other two tiers enjoy access to phone and email support as well as "quick start onboarding" implementation and user training.

Technical support is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. LiquidPlanner also maintains videos and documentation to guide users through any problems or questions they might have. Training videos are included as well to help get team members up to speed. 

The major drawback to LiquidPlanner is its sheer complexity. While the software is powerful and incredibly comprehensive, that also makes it rather daunting. If your priority is ease of use, you won't find it here.

While LiquidPlanner is an excellent solution for large teams, it could be counterproductive for smaller teams, or those with less experience using a project management platform. If an expedited implementation and training time is your priority, you might want to look elsewhere. It is worth mentioning, however, that LiquidPlanner employs a lot of drag-and-drop functions that make navigating its many features smooth and easy.

Another drawback is LiquidPlanner's price. The adage "you get what you pay for" applies here; LiquidPlanner is one of the best solutions on the market and gives you access to immensely powerful project management tools, but it costs a pretty penny in exchange. Because of both of these limitations, we recommend LiquidPlanner for large teams with the expertise to truly learn the system and enterprise-level companies with the bottom line to support the subscription costs.

Finally, LiquidPlanner doesn't include an integrated chat application, which could be an issue for larger teams. Users would have to resort to using an external chat application, backing out of LiquidPlanner to contact team members. While this is a drawback for larger and complex teams, LiquidPlanner's comprehensiveness and strong features made up for it in our estimation. While a chat application would have been a nice touch, there's so many redeeming qualities that make LiquidPlanner the ideal enterprise project management solution.

Adam C. Uzialko

Adam received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University. He worked for a local newspaper and freelanced for several publications after graduating college. He can be reached by email, or follow him on Twitter.