Monday, 17 February 2014

Projects – Plan for Success

It's likely that most of us have heard the phrase “poor planning = poor performance” or “fail to plan – plan to fail” and other variations on the same theme.

What it all boils down to is that the success of any plan, process, initiative, project, etc, is usually determined by the quality of the planning process.

This is particularly true and vitally important in terms of Projects.

I’m sure you’ll agree that, amongst other aspects, the up-front planning stage of a project (or a series of related tasks e.g. arising out of a meeting) the “Why?” “What?” “Who?” “When?” and “How?” of the initial planning stage, need be clearly identified, effectively captured, clearly understood and well communicated.

In our own experience over a number of years working with clients and also studying research on Project Management, there is much evidence to prove that projects fail in many cases because of weakness or failure in the early planning process. The failures are mainly due to:

  • Ideas, input and knowledge are not being effectively captured
  • Then, more importantly, not effectively utilised
  • Loss of momentum between brainstorming sessions, meetings, etc and action
  • Lack of suitable tools for capturing project requirements and creating breakdown structures (WBS)
  • Combined with lack of suitable tools for visualizing project requirements

The weaknesses or failures in the planning process usually mean, and result in...
  • Project requirements are not visualised properly or thoroughly
  • Crucial aspects of the project are missed
  • The Project flow is disrupted or broken
  • The effective deployment and execution of the project is at risk
  • Time-wasting and unnecessary fire-fighting is increased
  • Expensive delays in time and mismanaged resources
  • Negative knock-on effects for staff, the business – and customers!
and much more....

The Map below depicts one of our views on "planning for success" in project work and project management in general.

I am confident that, as MindGenius users you are increasing your chances of project success through effective deployment and use of MindGenius – not only at the critical front-end, but through the whole project lifecycle.

In terms of project plans, MindGenius provides a clear, visual and effective:
  • Quick capture of information during project brainstorming sessions and meetings
  • Alternative to whiteboards, flipcharts and post-its
  • Visualization of project scope, structure and WBS, providing clarity
  • Process for efficient requirements gathering, identifying project risks and problem-solving
  • Automatic creation of Gantt charts from your maps, no need for re-typing or export
  • Filtering and comprehensive reports to monitor and manage project tasks and stages through to successful delivery

We are introducing two new user-friendly features to our Newsletter this month...

An informative “Did You Know?” section – highlighting a strong benefit-rich feature within MindGenius and indicating possible application and use.

We have also started an equally interesting and user-focussed “How To...” section – taking a useful MindGenius function and explaining how it works, why you would use it and what benefits it provides.

Both of this month’s “Did You Know?” and “How To...” articles have relevance to “Projects – Planning for Success”, I do hope that you enjoy them and find them practical, thought-provoking and useful.

Take a Bite out of MindGenius…

Continuing our series of bite sized courses… MindGenius for Project Planning

The success of Projects is largely down to the success of that crucial front-end planning stage.

MindGenius provides a highly effective methodology for capturing, visualizing and structuring project requirements (WBS). This short but informative course shows you how to plan for a successful project.

Are you getting the best out of MindGenius for that all-important scoping and planning stage of a project? Used correctly, MindGenius enables easy, quick and efficient capture of all the necessary requirements and brings an engaging, collaborative and highly visual dynamic to all project planning activities.

Our short 30 minute live online training session, hosted by Head of Client Development Jamie MacDonald, will take you through the fundamentals of using MindGenius to improve on the effective use of MindGenius at the crucial front-end planning stage of a Project, ensuring that you “plan for success”.
Cost: £50 / €60 / $80* per session.

This training session is scheduled for: Wednesday 5th March at 16.00 GMT, 11.00 EST.

Book Now or Find out More

“How To…”

For the first of our new series of bite-size “How To’s”, we will share knowledge and hints and tips on how to use Map Explorer.

How to use Map Explorer

What is Map Explorer?

The Map Explorer is unique to MindGenius and facilitates the navigation of large maps, allowing you to move quickly between the high level and detailed views of mapped knowledge, topics, projects, etc, without having to create a series of linked maps.

Where will I find Map Explorer? 

Map Explorer is located in the Property Pane on the left-hand side of the MindGenius screen, below the File menu.  

How best can I use Map Explorer?

The structure within Map Explorer is automatically created as you build your map. The structure within Map Explorer replicates the structure and hierarchy of the map.

Expand and collapse the sections to drill up and down through your map.  

Selecting a branch topic in Map Explorer makes that branch the focus in the main window.

The map view changes to show a new map with the selected branch as the core, allowing you to focus and add further ideas knowledge and information.

What are the benefits of using Map Explorer?

  • Allows you to focus on any area of your map
  • Used to re-visit topics/ideas captured earlier
  • Negates the need to pan around content
  • Enables you to navigate around easily and manage complex topics and content
  • Display succinct overview of content
  • Valuable as a learning and revision tool
  • Ideal for creating project structure (WBS)
  • Provides space to add map content without getting lost in detail
  • Aids understanding of any mapped content
  • Use to present content to others directly from MindGenius
  • Visually engaging and collaborative

“Did You Know?”

Welcome to the first of our new “Did You Know?” Newsletter articles.

This is the first of a regular series of informative, practical “bite-size” articles covering important MindGenius features and highlighting application and use.

Did You Know That...

MindGenius has an integrated Gantt View.

The MindGenius Gantt view...
  • Automatically creates a Gantt chart from your maps with no need for re-typing
  • Not an export – fully integrated within MindGenius  (there is an export to MS Project option)
  • Assign resources, dates and estimates of duration, etc
  • Sequence the project activities and add task dependencies and constraints
  • Identify and allocate project milestones and critical path
  • Manage under / over allocation of resources
  • Automatically create professional, comprehensive reports from map data
  • No need for other tools – from planning to scheduling, through to delivery!