Tuesday, July 20, 2010

LiquidPlanner vs. Wrike, the Battle of the Online Project Management Tool Continues

Next in my little battle for the title of the best project management tool, I took a look at Wrike and compared it to LiquidPlanner. If you’ve read any of my posts before you know that the battle is a little uneven, I am clearly biased towards LiquidPlanner but I do try to take a fair look at each tool. I also like to keep this as a friendly forum for discussion, so if anyone out there from Wrike wants to pop in a comment here and clarify anything about my descriptions, feel free.
I will be comparing the following features:
  • Task Management / Schedule Building
  • Collaboration
  • Reporting
  • Mobile & Misc
Task Management / Schedule Building

Creating new tasks is pretty quick and simple with Wrike, I specify a title, assignee, start and due date, duration, status, priority, included in, shared with, and description with a rich text edit box. I am allowed to set a recurrence on the task, which is kind-of handy. The duration is a single-point estimate of course. I have yet to find a project management tool that will allow me to have a ranged estimate for a task like LiquidPlanner does. This builds in a level of uncertainty into the schedule which is critical to keep projections realistic, and will keep the project manager from continually going back to revise the schedule when estimates change.

The “priority” field has 3 options - Normal, High and Low. This is a handy feature to be able to flag the task, but it does not make it go any higher in the list of tasks. A personal task list is ordered by due date, which makes sense at a basic level. If tasks need to be re-prioritized then the due dates need to be edited for each task individually, or the end dates adjusted via the timeline. I had fun dragging the little blocks around the timeline but the problem here is that the timeline is only as realistic as I set it to be. The timeline does not take into account the durations of tasks, the resources assigned to them and the other workload or work schedule of those resources, office holidays, etc. There is no way to see if any of the tasks are at risk of being completed by their due date, until they are actually overdue and then they turn red.

With LiquidPlanner, making a task highest priority is done simply by dragging it to the top of the task list. When this happens, the expected completion date for that and all other tasks updates appropriately. The expected completion date takes into account the other tasks assigned to that resource, working schedule of the resource, delay until date, and any other outside dependencies. The date calculated and schedule created shows a much more realistic picture of when things will get done, not just when we hope they will get done. Any items that are risk of not being completed by their promise date will immediately turn red and will remain that way until priorities are shifted or dates revised.

Wrike has a feature called “Flexible Structures”, which allows the manager to build hierarchies of tasks and simultaneously put a sub-project and a task in many projects. Tasks can be sorted in many ways. LiquidPlanner also allows the manager to organize tasks into a folder view and a task list view. So, projects are built and organized in the “Organize” view and then priorities are set and adjusted in the “Task” view.


Wrike has a “Discussions” tab for each task, and a tab where files can be uploaded. LiquidPlanner has additional levels of collaboration for each task, project folder, and root of the project. LiquidPlanner includes:
  • Description (plain text edit)
  • Discussion (Twitter type comment stream)
  • Detailed Notes (rich text edit)
  • Links
  • Attached documents

This keeps the collaboration rich & organized. Wrike is launching an “Activity Stream” feature with it’s new version, which will show all activity over all projects and also include comments or discussion. This is a nice way to watch everything but I didn’t see a way to sort this stream by project/user/etc.

LiquidPlanner has a client portal system, a great way to collaborate with clients while controlling exactly what they can view & edit. Wrike does allow clients to be invited to the workspace to view projects, but as far as I can tell there is no portal-type system setup with controls over what elements can be viewed, edited, etc.


Wrike has a nice sized list of filters available, all prebuilt and accessible from the left column. This is handy, but what I personally find more practical and useful is the prebuilt (and very slick) reports and custom filters that can be setup with LiquidPlanner. LiquidPlanner includes the ability to sort by task owner, project folder, task list and status (active, complete, flagged, work remaining, etc).

LiquidPlanner has a free iphone app, Wrike reports to be working on their app.
Both systems include timesheets.


Although I found the Wrike interface clean and fairly easy to use, LiquidPlanner still has more of the features that are important to me in the type of project management work that I do, with constantly shifting priorities and tasks that need to need ranged estimates. And with all the talk of project collaboration tools, LiquidPlanner is pretty packed with great (and very organized) ways to collaborate.

What do you think?