Most project managers would agree that one of the biggest challenges they face in their work is juggling large amounts of information. Data overload is an issue that many companies can relate to, and one that affects most jobs within an organization.
With project management, information overload can lead to an overwhelming number of metrics and variables that can stagnate progress or make important decisions harder. The more data you have, the more options you have to weigh, and the harder it is to feel confident about your decisions.
Luckily, there are tools, such as MindManager, that project managers can use to overcome this issue, allowing them to identify the right choices more clearly. One method that is becoming increasingly popular is dynamically visualizing project management data.
What is dynamic project management visualization?
Dynamic project management visualization is a practice that integrates data visualization tools and methodologies with traditional means of communication, reporting and task management. The goal is to leverage best practice techniques to work with and present data visually, and incorporate it into a traditional project management workflow.
For example, projects will typically involve information related to resources, costs, timelines, and task dependencies (to name a few). This can be an overwhelming amount of information if you attempt to store it all in spreadsheets or standalone documents. Visual project management tools, such as MindManager, allow you to take all of that information, store it in a single location, organize it visually, and work with it in a way that provides better insights and direction.
How does it differ from traditional project management?
Project managers already use many different visual approaches to keep track of workflows. Some of the common tools includes:
- Gantt charts
- Work breakdown structures
- Process diagrams
- Team calendars
- Org charts
While these tools are a great starting point, more dynamic and responsive functionalities are required to effectively work with your project data.
Firstly, these tools don’t necessarily tell a holistic story of your project status or performance as you work. That is, unless you supplement them with the ability to link and merge all of your data from all sources, and have the ability to add automatic, rules-based formatting and calculations to show cause and effect.
Secondly, there’s the issue of communicating your project status to key stakeholders. Documents like those above often don’t contain the entirety of information associated with a project, and they are typically stagnant documents. As a result, the project manager still needs to spend time measuring KPIs, manually, collecting data, and creating lengthy project status reports to communicate results and progress.
Project managers today don’t have time for these lengthy reports, and must make decisions in the moment with the facts they have available. This is where dynamic project management visualization can help.
What are the benefits of dynamically visualizing your projects?
The goal or dynamic project management visualization is to present your information in as complete and simple a way as possible. It’s about creating an easy-to-use and holistic overview of your project data that changes and adapts as your project progresses. This saves you time and provides valuable and up-to-the minute insights throughout the process, which is not possible with traditional techniques.
The key benefits to dynamically visualizing project management, therefore, are as follows:
- It saves you time.
- It simplifies and centralizes your project data.
- It shows cause and effect when project variables change.
- It lets you make informed and timely decisions.
- It lets you identify and focus on the most important tasks.
- It lets you see and adapt to risks before they happen.
- It lets you communicate metrics and progress in real time.
Any PM would tell you that one of the most challenging parts of their job is juggling and adapting to all of the changing variables in a project. By visualizing project management activities, and centralizing then into one single platform that works alongside their team, PMs can relieve some of that pressure.
Using MindManager to visualize your project management
MindManager offers a variety of project management themes to help you get started with planning and executing your next project. These include traditional project management templates, which we’ll take a look at shortly, including:
- Project charters
- Project dashboards
- Project plans
- Project timelines
- Project status reports
- And more
On their own, these templates offer a great start for any project manager wanting to organize and keep track of their workflows. Combined with some of MindManager’s more powerful features, these themes can be turned into a platform for dynamic project management visualization.
Here are just some of the MindManager capabilities you can use to dynamically visualize your project.
- Users are able to build out their project plans using the MindManager interface, then pull all of their relevant data into the map from various sources.
- Add links to web pages, local files, SharePoint documents, emails, etc. to aggregate all of your project data.
- Add notes and images to project elements to provide more context.
- Add team resources, deadlines, task dependencies, tasks durations and progress markers to assign and track work in progress.
- Add cost values and calculations to keep track of expenditures and flag scope creep.
- Create powerful conditional formatting rules with SmartRules™ to visually show the effect of changes to your project workflow. This can include anything from changing the colour of certain project elements to red if a risk is flagged or a deadline is missed, to automatically re-allocating resources or adding custom tags if certain requirements aren’t met.
- Tag and filter different project elements to focus in on the most relevant information at any given time.
Now that we’ve looked how the data visualization features in MindManager can help you dynamically manage your projects, let’s take a look at some of the pre-made templates you can use to get started.
This is a simple Project Charter map structure to help you facilitate kick off meetings and capture all relevant information in one spot. You can pull in project information and assign task information once the kick off meeting is completed to build out your dynamic project map.
This Project Dashboard template can serve as your single source of truth for the health of your project. It includes basic cost tracking and calculations at the moment, but can easily be expanded to include as much information as you need. Building in conditional formatting and linking in project data will create a more detailed overview of your project, which you can use as a tracking platform to guide your decisions.
The Project Timeline is a great way to centralize past and future project information to easily communicate relevant data to stakeholders. Add overview information and pull in KPIs from previous project dashboards to create a living historical document of your projects.
These are just three basic examples of visual project management templates you can use in MindManager.
A second, and likely better, option for experienced project managers will be to build their dynamic maps from scratch. That way you can create the structure you want, and add as many layers of automation as you need to dynamically visualize and work with your project data.
Try MindManager for project management visualization
If you haven’t gotten your hands on MindManager yet, and want to see what if can do for your project management activities, you may be interested in a free 30-day trial.
Click here to get started!