Friday, 22 March 2013

WEBAUDIT now Authorised MindGenius Reseller for Brazil


Following rapidly increasing interest in South America, MindGenius, the leading business mind mapping software developer are delighted to announce that WEBAUDIT have been appointed as an authorised reseller of their products in Brazil.
 
MindGenius has been producing mind mapping software for business and education since 2001 that allows users to capture, visualize and manage their information. MindGenius is the only mind mapping software tool that focuses on aiding key business processes and allows organisations to specifically deliver business value in activities such as project planning, brainstorming, strategic planning, task management and information mapping.
 
WEBAUDIT help organizations seeking to assess and improve their business processes, aiming at a new level of management and business intelligence.
 
Marcos Depresbiteris, Commercial Director, WEBAUDIT said:
 
"WEBAUDIT are delighted to be working with MindGenius in Brazil and look forward to supporting customers here. MindGenius is a powerful and cost-effective mind mapping solution for business, individuals and education."
 
Derek Jack, Director, MindGenius said:
 
"We have seen a groundswell of interest in the South American region and working with WEBAUDIT allows us to offer localized help and support and work more effectively with our customers in the region."
 
Find out more at www.mindgenius.com.br/
 

How Continuing Professional Development uses MindGenius in CPD online courses


MindGenius partner, Continuing Professional Development explain how they use MindGenius in the development and presentation of courses.
Continuing professional development is a career long, systematic process to maintain and develop professional competence, creativity and innovation. Undertaking high quality CPD is particularly important in today’s fast moving technological world as the pace of change can soon make previous learning out-of-date.

At www.continuingprofessionaldevelopment.org MindGenius Mind Mapping software is a tool that we use to develop and present our online courses. MindGenius Mind Mapping software is an important component of our engineering and project management consultancy and so it was a logical extension to incorporate the features and benefits of MindGenius Mind Mapping software into our online courses. Here’s how we do it.

Course Overviews

We use the mind map layout to create course overviews so that users can view the course outline in pictorial form and see a map of their course journey. What are the main points that will be covered and in what order? In this format the course overview is compact and fits onto one A4 page, so it provides a comprehensive outline that can be absorbed at a glance. The overview for our Fundamental Project Constraints online course is included as an example.







For those who prefer a vertical listing in a table of contents style, we use MindGenius to export the mind map overview and create a PDF.



HTML Web pages

One of the most powerful features of MindGenius is the ability to create HTML web pages from the original mind map. We use this valuable feature in our Stakeholder Identification and Analysis online course to convert large amounts of information into easy to navigate web pages. One of the key benefits to users is that substantial quantities of information that would be boring to read are delivered in an easy to browse format. In addition, not everyone wants to follow a linear, start-to-finish path. A navigation bar to the left of the screen allows users to move through the webpages in any order or sequence. The ability to append notes and images provides a data rich browsing experience and the ability to easily locate information, move laterally, backwards and forwards through the data. Webpages provide the ability to browse and click on the piece of data that you want to explore. A screen shot of our MindGenius generated webpage on Stakeholder Identification is shown below.


Creating work breakdown structures

MindGenius Mind Mapping software and our online course on the Work Breakdown Structure are a natural fit. All the work breakdown structures in our online course are created from MindGenius mind maps and presented in a variety of layouts available in MindGenius. MindGenius Mind Mapping software is great for creating a work breakdown structure in graphical layout with the high level tasks either across the top of the page, or down the right hand side. These were included in our course as web objects so that users can scroll down to see the full work breakdown structure. An example is shown below.


Project Scheduling and Gantt Charts

A MindGenius Mind Mapping software feature that we often use in project management is the ability to convert the work breakdown structure in mind map format to a classic Gantt chart, and then to move seamlessly back and forth between the two views. Any changes made in the mind map are reflected in the Gantt chart and vice versa. This is a quick and easy way to produce and update your project work schedule. And your work breakdown structure is updated at the same time. We used this feature to produce example Gantt charts in our Project Work Scheduling online course.

Special Offer for MindGenius Customers

Enhancing your skills and knowledge will help you provide top quality professional services and take advantage of new career opportunities as they arise.

As a special deal for MindGenius customers, Continuing Professional Development is offering a 50% discount when you purchase two online courses – the Work Breakdown Structure course and the Project Work Scheduling course. These courses naturally belong together and deliver 5 hours of continuing professional development. For a limited time - until the end of March 2013, you can buy both courses for the price of only one. You can access this Combo WBS and Project Scheduling course here. After you have added the course to your shopping basket, click on View Basket and Enter the Coupon Code: 8452122E before you checkout to receive your 50% discount and save $US99.

Continuing Professional Development’s special offer of 20% off the cost of MindGenius software also applies to everyone who purchases our online courses. You can see the details after you enrol in the course.

Vivian Kloosterman is the founder of Continuing Professional Development with over 30 years of professional experience in the fields of professional engineering, business leadership, governance, risk management and project management.
 
Continuing Professional Development offers a series of online courses which provide a flexible and cost-effective way to increase your knowledge and meet CPD requirements. Our online courses provide anywhere, anytime access, where practical skills can be gained as part of an online community, supported by expert course facilitators. To find out more about how our online courses provide essential skills go to:  www.continuingprofessionaldevelopment.org

Agile Planning with MindGenius


Mind mapping techniques can be applied to Agile planning concepts in addition to traditional project management processes. Agile project teams tend to favor low-tech solutions like note cards, sticky notes or a simple spreadsheet list of user stories. As Agile teams become distributed, it is helpful to work off a common product log and be able to quickly adjust the priority of the user stories.

In an Agile implementation, requirements are organized by iterations and iterations are included into specific releases. Each release produces a functional solution that the product owner (i.e. business customer) determines if the functionality should be launched or integrated into the next release. This method of delivery for software projects lowers overall project risk, delivers functionality sooner and results in better defined product at the end of a project.

MindGenius is a useful tool for managing a digital product backlog since MindGenius’s categorization capability reorganizes and maintains a product backlog for future release and iteration planning. This tutorial will show you how to use MindGenius to organize requirements into a product backlog and support planning for prioritization, user story complexity and story point estimation and detailed iteration planning.

Step 1. Brainstorm the product backlog

In an Agile implementation, the product backlog is a prioritized list of requirements that the project team reviews with the product owner. By meeting with the business customer to identify specific requirements or user stories, the project team is left with a list of needs (Figure 1). Scope definition and requirements gathering are common in both traditional and Agile software projects although the process artifacts are different.

Figure 1. User Stories Mind Map
Each user story can be prioritized and organized into specific releases and iterations using a manual Release and Iteration node approach (Figure 2). Each major node is a release and each sub node represents an iteration containing a few user stories. Each user story can be further elaborated with requirement details using additional branches or specifying the detail in the MindGenius note editor.

Figure 2. Manual Release and Iteration Plan
Building the release plan manually is ok but if the project team really wants to leverage MindGenius’s categorization feature, the team should categorize each user story by release.

Step 2. Categorize each user story by release

In the MindGenius template, I’ve included several custom Release category items including release names and a backlog category. In an Agile project, new requests simply get added to the backlog and the project team works the backlog based on the business customer’s priority. Using the Analyze – Category Dropper, I can add specific user stories to the relevant releases.

Figure 3. Categorize by Release
MindGenius will format each user story according to the icon and color for each specific release. By creating a category version of the map (Analyze – Create Category Map), the product log looks similar to a work breakdown structure organized by release (Figure 4). User stories can be moved from release to release and re-categorized based on the team’s priority.

Figure 4. Organized by Release
Step 3. Organize by iteration

In Figure 4, I used MindGenius’s Picture Gallery to assign numbers for each user story’s priority. The hierarchy of user stories can also be used to guide the priority of user stories. As the team works on each release, each user story will be further elaborated so the team understands the specific end user requirement.

In Figure 5, I used the Difficulty category icons to identify each user stories complexity. As project teams organize project backlog user stories into release and iterations, each user story will be assigned a complexity value usually in the form of story points. The abstract estimation and the project team’s velocity will determine how many user stories can be accomplished within the fixed iteration.


Figure 5. User stories by iteration and complexity
Step 4. Develop the detailed iteration plan

By using the Map Explorer, the team can focus on a specific release or iteration and start developing detailed tasks and target dates for each user story. Since iterations follow a fixed duration (i.e. 2 weeks or 4 weeks), the date range for each iteration and release is known. Team members can safely apply the “pick a date” task management to forecast when the specific tasks under each user story will be completed.

Figure 6. Develop a detailed iteration plan
Next Steps

By adopting an Agile approach using MindGenius, project teams can better organize the project backlog and develop release and detailed iteration plans. Using the MindGenius note editor, additional user story detail can be added as well as basic test acceptance criteria. For traditional project managers who still need a Gantt chart, the iteration map can be exported to a Gantt chart format for tracking during the iteration or release. However, for an Agile project, the project team can simply track using the mind map.

Download the attached Product Backlog Template and get started brainstorming user stories and prioritizing the project backlog. I’ve also included the completed iteration plan for reference.

Dr. Andrew Makar is an IT program manager and is the author of How To Use Microsoft Project and Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy. For more project management advice visit www.tacticalprojectmanagement.com.