By: Leanne Armstrong
If you’re like us, you’re probably painfully aware of everything that can go wrong on route to achieving your project objectives. You may even be intimately familiar with any number of methods for planning, executing, and monitoring your way from conception to closure.
But did you know that common project management techniques can be made significantly more effective when you hitch them to a visual framework?
Project management visualization involves a combination of data visualization tools and methodologies, traditional communication, reporting, and task management. It means taking a visual approach to project management and execution.
We know there’s nothing more satisfying than discovering tools and techniques that help make your projects run smoother. So we’re going to share some of the biggest benefits of project management visualization and show you how easy it is to create and manage your projects visually.
[Free eBook] The Ultimate Guide to Visual Project Planning
What is project management visualization?
Effective project management means meeting your goals by combining the best of your knowledge and skills with the most efficient project planning tools and techniques. So it only stands to reason that being able to turn to a reliable, repeatable, highly visible process will ramp up your project success.
Project management visualization is just such a process.
By integrating data visualization tools and methodologies with traditional communication, reporting, and task management, visualizing your project streamlines your capacity to get the most from basic variables like:
- your team and scope of work,
- timelines and resources, and
- communication channels
And that’s important.
Because for each new scenario you encounter, the better you can see the various stages of the project management process laid out before you, the greater clarity you’ll have into what’s driving your project forward at any time.
Why you should be visualizing project management
Picture this: you’ve just been tasked with putting together an employee handbook to help new hires navigate your departmental workflow.
Sounds straightforward enough, right? Not necessarily.
In many cases, a project like this may be the direct result of an unexpected employee departure, or a change in your team’s responsibilities. Either way, time is likely to be short and those involved may already be juggling multiple workloads.
So what’s the best approach? Project management visualization.
Laying out the creation of your handbook visually puts you way ahead of the game in terms of your team’s ability to see the entire project at a glance.
Not only will visualizing the process help you navigate it more efficiently than text-based documentation or cumbersome spreadsheets alone, visualization offers incredible fluidity in terms of:
- creating, assigning, and managing project tasks in real time,
- responding to planning oversights or scheduling discrepancies as they arise, and
- integrating project documentation and links each time they’re sourced or created
We get it.
With great projects of any size, comes great responsibility – from assembling the right team, overseeing their performance, and meeting deadlines, to communicating effectively with stakeholders.
Fortunately, you’ve got a lot of great options when it comes to customizing the right project management technique to fit your needs.
Project management visualization enhances outcomes
The very best project management technique is the one that makes it as easy as possible for you to carry out your responsibilities as organizer.
That said, some of the most widely-used project management methodologies include:
- Work Breakdown Structure (WBS),
- Critical Path Method (CPM),
- Lean Six Sigma, and
- Gantt Chart
Each has its benefits. But whether you opt for one of these traditional techniques, or you’ve developed your own approach to overseeing assignments, project management visualization will make it work better.
By making it possible to present and manipulate information graphically, and on-the-go, a visual context emphasizes the best features of whichever project management technique you choose to implement.
Let’s face it: the bigger or more complex the project, the more overwhelmed your team members are likely to feel – especially if you try to jump in without a proper plan. Juggling large amounts of information on the fly not only increases the risk of time wastage and cost overruns, your group is apt to run out of steam mid-assignment.
Even the simplest of projects run more smoothly when everyone is on the same page. And one of the biggest advantages of visualizing project management is that it takes the collaboration needed to carry out a project successfully to greater heights.
Project management visualization drives collaboration
Visualizing project management gives your entire group real-time, at-a-glance views of your mission’s breakdown and status.
It does this by using data visualization tools to:
- graphically redefine scope of work as smaller, more manageable components,
- create and share a visual breakdown of every task and subtask, and
- visibly track, update, and communicate project progress
Visualizing your planning technique is easy to do when you use dynamic project management software like MindManager.
Take WBS as an example. You and your team can move forward together by taking advantage of built-in tools like mapping templates, flowcharts, diagrams, and project timeline visualization to:
- label the major deliverables in your project work breakdown structure,
- subdivide and organize those goals into mini-deliverables, and
- assign the tasks created to individual team members
Using highly visual techniques like WBS, Kanban, and Gantt Chart in conjunction with MindManager also makes it easier to calculate and manage the budget and potential risks attached to your project.
5 steps to creating and managing a project visually
Simply merge the following 4 steps with versatile, easy-to-use software like MindManager to make the most of project management visualization for your next assignment.
1. Initiate your project
Creating a visual framework gives you a flexible foundation for managing your project, your team, and your objectives. Have your group use pre-built mapping templates to quickly and easily:
- transform work scope into strategy – complete with charters, dashboards, and status reports,
- brainstorm project ideas,
- break out and diagram specific deliverables and tasks, and
- initiate and share project timeline visualization
2. Create a visual project plan
Making every detail of your plan visible to team members, management, and stakeholders will pave the way to a successful execution.
Use MindManager to:
- Leverage project timeline visualization by using the built-in Gantt chart tool to lay out and assign
- tasks and subtasks,
- milestones and deadlines,
- resources like personnel, finances, and knowledge management
- Set up and incorporate success metrics and KPIs that are clear and make sense for your project.
- Establish a risk management plan by
- using flowcharts to highlight potential bottlenecks,
- pre-identifying delays or disruptions attached to staff absences or scheduling conflicts,
- fleshing out a contingency strategy with integral diagramming tools.
- Enable decision makers by setting up communication, notification, and sign-off channels.
3. Execute your project
When it comes time to put your plan into action, project management visualization will guide your team through each milestone.
- Use interactive maps and timelines to make it easy to jointly track and update task due dates and dependencies.
- Incorporate links and attachments to continue to add content and context to your planning map.
- Put budgeting and forecasting tools to work to keep project resources on point financially.
4. Monitor project outcomes
Monitoring, managing, and reporting KPIs and project outcomes is easy with MindManager.
- Use the centralized dashboard in conjunction with Gantt or Kanban views to monitor and manage your timelines, resources, budgets, and risks.
- Communicate individual and group outcomes visually as they’re documented, or use integrated Microsoft and Apple productivity apps to share and publish reports in your format of choice.
5. Close out your project
Closing out your visually driven project after a successful run is as simple as closing out the tasks in your mapping platform, handing off deliverables to management or project stakeholders, wrapping up your KPI reports, and debriefing your team so you can learn from what worked and what didn’t.
No matter which project tools or techniques you’ve come to rely on, reinventing them through the lens of project management visualization will enhance your results and make every mission easier to execute.
- Getting back to the basics of project management
- 5 stages of the project management process
- What project management tools should every business be using?
- 7 project management methodologies to kick start your next project
- Your guide to making the most of project management flowcharts
- Gantt chart project management: getting back to the basics
The Ultimate Guide to Visual Project Planning
Download this free eBook to get a primer on the concept of visual project planning, an exclusive Project Planning Visualization Toolkit, and 13 downloadable visual project planning templates to get you started right away!