For all that's fabulous about online work-automation tools, there remains a steep hill to be climbed: Yes, Google Apps (Stock Quote: GOOG), Microsoft Office Live (Stock Quote: MSFT) and Salesforce.com (Stock Quote: CRM) all sound great, but figuring out which one will work for you is a major pain.
We here in Blumworld have been doing our part, slowly but surely working our way through the work-automation-tool universe. We have tested, at length, Microsoft Office Live, Google Apps and Basecamp, the project-management tools from 37 Signals. And now we are embarking on our next victim -- eh, "test!" -- LiquidPlanner (free for nonprofits, $30/month/seat, or $300/year/per seat).
The Bellevue, Wash.-based online collaboration and project-management-tool company was started in 2006. Over its relatively brief life, it has grown to be an industry innovator with more than 500 deployments and several thousand users. The software has a typical project-management interface, a la Microsoft Project, but it's been heavily modified for Web-based collaboration. The company has also introduced a very interesting idea into project management software: The code attempts to diagram the probability that a project will be completed, which heaven knows is what we all really want to know.Here are my early impressions over our first round of deployments.
What You Get
LiquidPlanner, like most others in the space, puts all tasks, schedules, documents and comments about a project in a single place that you and your employees can find. Believe it or not, that's actually sort of a commodity these days. But LiquidPlanner deserves credit for doing a nice job with these basics.
Sign-up is easy and free for the first month. Simply enter your name and email address and some other information, like the correct time zone. (Don't forget the time zone, which is the source of project-management woe for those who work across the country.) Once that's complete, there's a series of reasonable online tutorials for getting started.