Monday, 14 July 2014

Mind Mapping for Project Management

Not the most obvious scenario for project managers or project workers – using mind mapping software for planning project requirements, creating work breakdown structures (WBS), then going on to use the same mind mapping software to schedule and ongoing monitor, control and close – what on earth could mind mapping possibly add or contribute to the project management process?
• Are there any advantages or benefits?
• How can there be a fit?
• Does it ultimately save time and effort?
• What possible difference or value can this approach bring?

Similar to adoption of any other process, tool or solution, the use of mind mapping software needs to deliver value, tangible benefits, process improvement, increased efficiency and improved productivity. The expectations and requirements therefore are no different. So, does mind mapping software, particularly in a project management environment deliver?
Absolutely it does - let’s explore how…



1. Planning


Mind Mapping enables you to quickly capture and visualize the crucial front-end of your Project.
Maps in general are a great way to read, assimilate and gain understanding on information and data. Mapping also helps with reducing “information overload” that sometimes gets in the way of understanding, decision-making and generally moving forward.

The mind mapping methodology, for example the parent / child branch relationships, together with the “drill-down” methodology, provides a visual and highly effective methodology for brainstorming ideas, layering each level of detail, ordering or grouping and getting structure and hierarchy of high-level phases and stages, through to all the tasks and activities involved.
The engaging, collaborative and visual process of Mapping provides structure, flow and aids clarity and understanding of the captured information (as a whole or in its component parts).
Modern mind mapping software provides the substantial additional benefit of being able to Categorise and Filter for parameters such as Priorities, Importance, Risk, etc, as well as being able to apply Resources and Timescales – all improving the time and effort spent trying to understand and analyse the information and introducing more momentum and efficiency to moving through the planning process.
Too often project workers start with scheduling, resorting to lists, spreadsheets, scheduling tools, etc. The use of mind mapping provides the huge benefit of visualization and “virtual whiteboard / flipchart” advantage to up the ante on the critical planning stage. This supports the “planning for success” ethos where proper, well-thought-through planning increases the chances of success (the opposite of “fail to plan, plan to fail” approach). Mind mapping, undoubtedly the value-adding creative front-end to the project planning.




2. Scheduling

Having benefited from thorough planning and creation of mapped project requirements (WBS), the mind maps can now be instantly and effortlessly converted to a Gantt Chart for effective scheduling.
One option can be to use the MS Office export functionality and export the map content into MS Project. This is a quick and seamless function with a ready-made MS Project Gantt schedule output saving time and effort.

However, for an even more efficient and truly seamless transition from map to Gantt view, and negating the need for MS Project, the integrated Project Mode / Gantt view provides the ideal functionality for project scheduling.

Again the easy and intuitive user interface ensures less time and effort is spent on allocation resources and timescales, linking tasks and interdependencies, setting rules and constraints, identifying project milestones and critical path, as well as viewing and managing under and over allocation of resources.

The fact that the Gantt view is integrated within the mind mapping software means that the map and Gantt Chart are synchronised, providing additional options and benefits such as switching from one view to another, mapping alterations, additions, changes, etc., whilst the Gantt view synchronise ensures all changes are adopted within the project schedule immediately.



3. Monitor and Control

Both the mapping and Gantt Chart interfaces provide the functionality to now go on to monitor and manage all the individual tasks and activities as well as high-level stages of the Project.
Each Task can be managed by updating status in terms of progress through to completion.
A comprehensive Filtering functionality allows you to filter on any map or Gantt view criteria such as your own tasks, due dates, tasks overdue, task completed, etc. This provides a mechanism for all project workers to pro-actively collaborate on and manage tasks and project stages through to completion.
Communication and collaboration is also a major component of mind mapping software with a variety of functions and features to enable that process to be as efficient as possible. This is executed through a range of options such as Filtering, Viewer licences, printing, file sharing, export to MS Excel and the export to MS Project if required.

4. Reporting

To augment the monitoring and control mechanisms and functionality, the mind mapping software can further provide a comprehensive and reporting functionality.
An example of this in MindGenius, the leading business mind mapping software, is the way it exports all the project data into a professional and presentation-ready Report in MS Word. This is a highly effective way of portraying all aspects of the project status and progress in a highly visual, engaging, collaborative and easy-to-understand format.



The Project Reports portrays crucial project data to inform any or all stakeholders of:
• Project status overview
• Project Milestones
• Project Summaries (% complete, No of tasks, Chart)
• Tasks report (Completed, Due, Overdue)
• Critical tasks report



Conclusion

There is no doubt that modern mind mapping software provides a platform that excels at the up-front planning stage. However, the whole plethora of value-adding functionality now brings a whole new level of efficiency, clarity, focus and overall productivity to the planning, scheduling and management of the whole project lifecycle.

All of this without making the whole process cumbersome or complicated – a real bonus for businesses not just looking for tools, but for businesses looking for an under-pinning process that provides a robust methodology, all-important simplicity and visibility on all aspects of projects.
All of the above only goes to prove that mind mapping software has moved on enormously since the advent of mainstream traditional mind mapping many decades ago. Whatever your past experience of mind mapping was, whatever pre-conceptions or even misconceptions were, this is an increasing popular and ever-growing approach for people involved in all aspects of project work regardless of type and size.

If you’re looking for an innovative, creative and comprehensive way of visualizing, planning, scheduling and managing project work with added advantage of having an equally suitable tool for all other day-to-day activities (e.g. brainstorming, research, meeting management, problem solving, planning, etc.) you need to take a serious look at mind mapping software for enhanced productivity.



If you haven’t already done so, please consider MindGenius for project management or any of the above situations in your day-to-day work. If you require help or assistance there are numerous resources both within the MindGenius Help and within the Resources section of our website
www.mindgenius.com.
We also provide advice and professional training and consultancy services to help you get the most out of MindGenius and its application for many business and education uses.
Contact us anytime on
info@mindgenius.com, we’d be delighted to help!





Author Bio: Jamie MacDonald, Head of Client Development at MindGenius. Jamie is a highly experienced trainer, facilitator and coach with over 20 years’ experience in training, development, HRM and business improvement.





How to Assign Resources to Branches…

This “How To” guide outlines how you can assign Resources to branches (e.g. for actions or tasks) via the “Task” Ribbon.
 

To assign a Resource to a Branch:

• Select the Branch you want to assign a Resource to
• Click the Resource from the Resource Gallery (You can open or scroll the gallery to see more Resources)
 
 
As Resources are assigned they are pinned to the top of the Resource Gallery and given a red icon. These are Resources used in the map and make it easier for you to assign or unassign them without having to spend time trying to find them.

As Resources are assigned, their initials are shown within the Branch (bottom-left corner). Hover the mouse over the initials to see full name.
 
Using the Dropper tool: 
 
The Dropper tool is available on the Tasks ribbon and can be used to “pick” and “drop” Resources onto Branches … 
 
• Switch to the Tasks ribbon
• Select the Dropper Tool
• Pick one or more Resources from the Resource Gallery
• Click one or more Branches to assign the picked Resources

Note:
To exit Dropper mode, re-select the dropper Tool from the Ribbon or press the Esc key.

MindGenius has a Review Mode

MindGenius Version 5 incorporates a Review Mode which lets you track Reviewer changes and capture comments.
Reviewers can edit maps as normal but are prompted to contribute their reasons before committing the changes – this enables you to review once the map is sent back to you.

Maps are switched in and out of Review Mode via the Review Mode Toggle command on the “Tools” Ribbon.
 
 

How can I access and Use Review Mode?

• Switch to the Tools ribbon
• Click Review Mode
• Enter the Map Owner name
• Click OK


Once the map is in Review Mode you can add comments of your own or send the map to others for review.


 
Whilst in Review Mode, you can:

• Use the Send Map command to send the map to others for review, or return the map to its owner
• Select the Add Comment command to add comments to the selected branch
• View comments and changes made by Reviewers via the Comments and Changes Pane
• Apply a filter to the map to show only branches with comments
• Spell check the map by clicking “Spell Check”


If you feel you, your team, or other MindGenius users could do with a helping hand to get more out of MindGenius and get better users truly adopting MindGenius as a productivity tool, simply contact us at info@mindgenius.com to arrange a call to discuss your requirements.

6 Uses for Mind Mapping in Business

Whatever your pre-conceptions, or even misconceptions, of Mind Mapping, it is now becoming truly embedded as a real value-adding approach in many aspects of planning and working throughout the business and education sectors. The added power of mind mapping software such as MindGenius has propelled this methodology into the all-important efficiency and productivity arenas.
 
Through the utilisation of Mind Mapping in your organisation or business (particularly through the adoption of MindGenius business mind mapping software) you are able to:

• Capture and visualise ideas, knowledge and information easier and quicker
• Reduce “information overload” dramatically
• Gain better understanding of the mapped topic or subject matter
• Save time and effort in planning and execution of tasks and projects
• Capture, enhance, improve and communicate processes
• Have better focus and clarity on all tasks, activities, plans, strategies, projects, etc. and much more…..

 
There are many wide and varied uses, applications, not to mention tangible benefits and productivity gains to be realised from the application of mind mapping in a business context.
This document outlines 6 main uses…


(Map created using MindGenius business mind mapping software)

1. Planning and Analysis
 
Mind Mapping enables you to quickly capture and visualize the various strands of your Plan.
The parent / child Branch relationships, together with the “drill-down” methodology, provides a visual and highly effective methodology for dividing topics, layering each level of detail, ordering or grouping and getting structure and hierarchy in terms of analysing the information.
The engaging and visual process of Mapping provides structure, flow and aids clarity and understanding of the captured information (as a whole or in its component parts).
MindGenius provides the substantial additional benefit of being able to Categorise and Filter for parameters such as Priorities, Importance, Risk, etc, as well as being able to apply Resources and Timescales – all improving the time and effort spent trying to understand and analyse the information and introducing more momentum and efficiency to moving through the whole “plan/analyse/decide/do” process.

This methodology can be applied to any personal, business or strategic planning, objective setting, research, analysis of information/data, “to-do” lists, as well as many uses in education and learning.
 

2. Capturing Knowledge & Information
 
One of the major strengths of using Mind Mapping for capturing knowledge and information around any given topic is the clarity and focus that the capture and visualisation interface provides.
The Mind Mapping methodology provides structure, linkages, relationships, as well as the ability to tackle the initial capture stage from a “blank sheet” perspective, or map out a skeleton structure to guide the process.
Maps are a great way to read, assimilate and gain understanding on a range of topics, plans, problems, projects, research work, learning and revision, etc. Mapping also helps with reducing “information overload” that sometimes gets in the way of understanding, decision-making and generally moving forward.
The added value and benefit of utilising MindGenius software includes the ability to add Notes to branches; link to documents and URLs; Navigate large maps easily with Map Explorer; Categorise branches to aid decision making, analysis and prioritisation; Filtering; Export to MS Office applications, etc.

3. Project Management
 
The mapping methodology really excels at the crucial “front-end” Planning stage of Project Management – providing an ideal format and layout for capturing the hierarchy, structure and order of all tasks and activities that form the project requirements or “Work Breakdown Structure”.
MindGenius software provides the platform to go further than Planning, providing the functionality to Schedule, Monitor, Manage and Report. It enables you to brainstorm the project requirements in a highly engaging and visual way. The integral Gantt functionality (or export to MS Project) provides the easy and intuitive format to allocate Resources, Start Dates, Durations, End Dates, Interdependencies, Constraints, etc. Built-in Filtering, export and significant reporting capability provides further efficiency, visibility and management capability to monitor and manage through the whole project lifecycle.
 
 
4. Action & Task Management
 
Bringing clarity and focus to meetings, discussions or any other situation where the “What / Who / When” needs to be clear, well-defined and communicated – that’s where the use of mind mapping really does add value.  Easily and quickly mapping out the Actions, assigning ownership and committing to timescales / deadlines, all contributing to a visual representation of agreed actions and outcomes.
MindGenius allows quick and easy mapping of Actions and then the dynamic application of Resources and Due Dates. The further advantage of being able to communicate Tasks through , for example, the synchronisation with MS Outlook, combined with Filtering capability for Resources and Dates, provide a truly beneficial method for agreeing, allocating and managing Tasks – another example of  a more efficient and productive way of working.

5. Prioritising & Decision Making
 
Mind Mapping enables not only the effective, visual way of capturing ideas, knowledge and information, but also to create structure, hierarchy and order – particularly useful if you need to get to a point of identifying priorities or needing to arrive at well-informed decisions.
Again the visual aspect is a huge benefit, as is the breakdown and drill-down effect that aids understanding and negates potential “information overload”.
The usefulness and efficiency that the use of Map structuring, navigation, Categories, Filters, etc, brings via the application of MindGenius further improves and enhances the whole process.
It also provides a vehicle for communicating and presenting the actual “information journey” as well as the outcomes with clarity and focus.
 
6. Effective Meeting Management

Again, mapping brings more clarity and focus to each stage of the effective meeting process – from planning, the actual meeting itself, on to assigning priorities, actions and timescales and through to monitoring and managing agreed outcomes and actions to completion.
MindGenius software provides the intuitive and easy-to-use interface to map and manage the whole end-to-end meeting management process – the purpose/objectives, planning, execution stage, follow-up and close out. This is achieved through: easy and quick capturing of all information; sorting and grouping for hierarchy, structure and related topics; Categories and Filtering as/if required for priorities, decisions; allocation of Resources for Task ownership; allocation of Due Dates; Task status and progress monitoring; synchronisation with MS Outlook; and many more ways to simplify and provide clarity and focus at all stages – a really visual and productive way of working!

 
Other Uses:

The “6 Uses” above are of course only some of the many wide and varied personal and business uses for Mind Mapping and MindGenius. When you think of the underpinning methodology and processes afforded by the powerful combination of the technique and the software, it opens up a whole new dimension for creativity and productivity enhancements in many aspects of day-to-day tasks and activities, e.g…

• Brainstorming
• Problem solving
• Risk analysis
• Objective setting
• Learning, study and revision
• Research
• Change management
• Creative thinking tools and techniques
and more…


If you haven’t already done so, please take a serious look at using MindGenius for any or all of the above situations in your day-to-day work. If you require help or assistance there are numerous resources both within the MindGenius Help and within the Resources section of our website www.mindgenius.com.
We also provide advice and professional training and consultancy services to help you get the most out of MindGenius and its application for many business and education uses.
Contact us anytime on
info@mindgenius.com, we’d be delighted to help!






Author Bio: Jamie MacDonald, Head of Client Development at MindGenius. Jamie is a highly experienced trainer, facilitator and coach with over 20 years’ experience in training, development, HRM and business improvement.
 

How to... Use Quick Filters

This “How To” guide outlines how you can apply pre-defined Filters for Tasks and Categories via the “Analyze” and “Task” Ribbons.
Maps can be filtered based on properties assigned to Branches, such as Action attributes, Resources, Categories, etc.

 
Quick Filters are available in two locations: The Analyze Ribbon and the Task Ribbon.
 
 
How best can I use the Quick Filters?
 
ANALYZE:

The Analyze Tab allows you to Categorise branches. Subsequently, the Quick Filters available via the Analyze Ribbon allow you to filter for Branches with certain Categories assigned.

• Ensure the Analyze Ribbon/Tab is selected
• Open the Quick filter menu
• Select a Category from the list
• Branches that do not contain your selected Category will be greyed-out. (You can select “Hide Non-Matches”).

 
Note: The list of Categories displayed when you open the Quick Filter is “dynamic” i.e. it is based on Categories assigned in the Map. You must add Categories to the Map before the list will contain any.

 

 
TASKS:

The Tasks Tab allows you to assign Actions to Branches. Subsequently, the Quick Filters available via the Tasks Ribbon allow you to Filter for Branches meeting certain Action criteria.

• Ensure the Tasks Ribbon / Tab is selected
• Open the Quick Filter menu
• Select a Filter from the list e.g. “Actions Overdue”
• Branches that do not pass your selected Filter will be greyed-out. (You can select “Hide Non-Matches”).


 

 The following combinations of Filters are available:
 
• Actions Due - Returns a positive result where a “Due By” date branch property exists and the date value satisfies that specified Filter

• Resources - Returns a positive result where the Resources properties for a branch are equal to any specified in the Filter

• Categories - Returns a positive result where the Category properties for a Branch are equal to any specified in the Filter

• Key Word (Notes or Title) - Returns a positive result where the Branch Title or Notes Text is equal to any specified in the Filter
 

 

Did you know...MindGenius provide Training & Consultancy Services

At MindGenius we could easily just sell you a software package, leave you to it and hope that you start using it to take advantage of its functions and features as soon as possible.
However, with many years of experience with a diverse range of global customers, we believe that proper adoption of MindGenius is mainly about users fully understanding and appreciating what MindGenius is all about and how to apply it in their day-to-day activities to enhance their productivity and efficiency.




Proper adoption is the only way that ensures individuals and organisations are getting the most out of MindGenius and are therefore accruing meaningful productivity benefits and tangible ROI.

Having successfully helped thousands of individual, teams and organisations around the world successfully adopt MindGenius, we have the experience, knowledge, expertise and a range of resources to help you do the same.

We offer a range of client development services to support MindGenius users in the use and adoption of MindGenius. We provide a range of online and onsite training offerings and consultancy assignments.
Our website provides details of our main offerings:
http://www.mindgenius.com/Products/Training-and-Services.aspx
We can tailor any training or consultancy packages to your specific requirements.

• Have you activated your MindGenius licences yet?
• Are all your licences allocated and in proper use?
• Can you and/or your MindGenius users apply MindGenius effectively in your day-to-day activities and tasks?
• Are you aware of the key functionality of MindGenius and how you can apply that to a range of tasks and activities? e.g. effective meetings; task allocation and management; project planning, scheduling and management; brainstorming sessions; problem solving; strategic and personal objectives…etc…etc…
• Are you realising the full benefits of MindGenius as a productivity tool and getting optimum ROI?

If you feel you, your team, or other MindGenius users could do with a helping hand to get more out of MindGenius and get better users truly adopting MindGenius as a productivity tool, simply contact us at info@mindgenius.com to arrange a call to discuss your requirements.

Get Focus and Clarity on the Map!

Brainstorming sessions, team meetings, focus groups, workshops, training sessions, planning meetings, project meetings... think of how many meetings, sessions, groups, etc, businesses and organisations hold each day, each month, throughout the year – a staggering amount I would suggest!

Is that your organisation?

Is that you – do you hold or take part in a lot of meetings?

How well planned, executed and followed up are they?

What about encouraging and promoting creativity, engagement and collaboration?

With so many meetings, all held with the best intentions and objectives I’m sure, I can’t help but think of how important it is for us all that we plan, run, manage and follow-up on our meetings as effectively and productively as possible.

Yet, in our experience of working closely with a large client-base, I often experience and hear of instances of:

• Too many meetings
• Too many “waste of time” meetings
• Lack of focus on the reason and/or objective(s) for the meetings
• Lack of focus and clarity during the meetings
• Input, discussions, agreements and actions/tasks not being recorded properly
• Outcomes and actions not followed up effectively (on time or even at all)
• Increased dissatisfaction and annoyance within departments, teams and individuals that requirements, agreements and actions are not followed through

Of the many wide and varied successes, improvements and benefits that MindGenius has brought users over the years, the application and use of MindGenius as an effective collaborative tool to bring focus and clarity to each stage of the “effective meeting” process (Planning – Execution – Follow-Up – Close-Out) is one that provides real benefit and savings in time and effort.

If you haven’t already used MindGenius at any stage of your meetings, I would strongly encourage you to do so. It’s simplicity of use, the power of the visualization aspect the mapping format provides, the increased engagement and collaboration - all truly enhance that all-important focus and clarity that is vital to each stage of the meeting process –
• clear agenda and purpose
• ideal platform for creativity and idea-generation
• quick, easy, effective and visual capture of discussions, knowledge, information and input
• dynamic functionality to help with decision-making and prioritization (e.g. Categories and Filtering)
• clearly defined and displayed tasks, actions and resource allocation
• easy-to-use, intuitive task/action monitoring and management capability
• project management functionality without the need for other PM tools

Meetings and group sessions within businesses and organisations are now part of every-day business life – they are the platform and production line for an endless stream of strategies, decisions, innovation, direction, change, improvement, project management, etc, etc.

Why then, particularly when we have a tool and a “way of working” like MindGenius at our disposal, do we not maximise and improve our efficiency and productivity within this all-important aspect of our working lives?



(An example Map from MindGenius Templates)

You may have noticed the article in the April MindGenius Newsletter on assigning actions to branches, well worth looking at if you’ve not utilised that functionality. Building on that is a related topic in this month’s Newsletter – Export Tasks to, and Synchronising with, MS Outlook – another value-adding function that greatly enhances the management of tasks and actions arising out of meetings.

If you haven’t already done so, please take a serious look at using MindGenius for meeting management. If you require help or assistance there are numerous resources both within the MindGenius Help and within the Resources section of our website www.mindgenius.com.
We also provide advice and professional training and consultancy services to help you get the most out of MindGenius and its application for meetings and many other business and education uses.
Contact us anytime on info@mindgenius.com, we’d be delighted to help!



Author Bio: Jamie MacDonald, Head of Client Development at MindGenius. Jamie is a highly experienced trainer, facilitator and coach with over 20 years’ experience in training, development, HRM and business improvement.



 

Are you getting the best out of MindGenius to enhance productivity for you / your team?

MindGenius Ltd provide an extensive range of tailored training and consultancy solutions for individuals and teams. If you need to improve your use or wider adoption of MindGenius, contact your Account Manager or email
info@mindgenius.com – we’d be happy to discuss your requirements and options.