Mind Mapping in Project Management
The advantages of Mind Maps in project management applications
Classic Mind Mapping with pen and paper grants you the most freedom to artistically design your Mind Map. Although, having established your workflow, for many good reasons you might want to start using suitable Mind Mapping software. This article explains how to apply Mind Maps to project management and why it is a good idea to use a dedicated project management application with built-in Mind Mapping.
Mind-Mapping in project management
In project management you often need to represent complex issues in a structured fashion. Mind Maps lend themselves very well to visualizing the different components and processes required to undertake a project.
Planning a project and developing a strategy can be quite time-consuming. Group Mind Mapping is an excellent method for conceptualizing a project. It helps you compile and illustrate all the ideas and tasks. Once you have gathered all information and sorted your Mind Map by categories, the project appears more manageable, because you will have gained a clearer vision of all the tasks required for execution.
A Mind Map also enables you to break your project down into smaller components. Within those separate components you will be able to amend your Mind Map with special tasks and goals, which you work out in groups of experts and deciders with special know-how. There are risk analysis, stakeholder analysis and looking for solutions to particular problems, to name but a few.
Or you generate a Mind Map for planning each and every phase of a project to visualize its distinct elements and keep track of the important aspects of the phase in question.
Mind Maps are applicable in many more instances of a project manager's day-to-day business. I.e. when hosting a talk, preparing a business presentation or planning your day with a calendar.
The Mind Map in Merlin Project
Make your Mind Maps with software to save a lot of time. There are several great applications to help you organize your thoughts and to automatically transform them into a readily comprehensible and ordered list.
When employing Mind Mapping in project management, suitable software is advisable. Mind Maps and other diagrams assist with simplifying and visualizing complex matters. Thus, you deconstruct a multilayer, multifaceted project into its constituents and depict it graphically. You may display additional information with particular project components like costs, responsibilities and relations. This is how you ease a project's execution and render it more productive.
The Mind Map built into Merlin Project offers you all the advantages of digital Mind Mapping:
- Modify anytime
- Project management functionality
- Working in virtual teams
In Merlin Project a Mind Map is very easy to make. Firstly, enter the name of your project as the central idea. Next, just as with conventional Mind Maps, branch out your main topics by entering key concepts (Basic Ordering Principles) as new activities. Append twigs, if you will, of related subordinate terms as so-called "children" of their respective activities. This way you quickly attain a clearly laid out digital Mind Map.
1. Modify anytime
Modify your Mind Map generated with Merlin Project at any time with minimum effort. New main and subordinate branches are easy to subjoin or delete and reposition automatically. Quickly turn supposed subtopics into new Basic Ordering Principles.
Sometimes the need may arise to add a detailed text instead of a host of subordinate branches. To maintain the map structure, in such cases you should use notes that can be attached to every twig. Also, you will be able to copy and paste individual branches to different locations. As a matter of fact, the whole composition of the Mind Map may be restructured. Recolor branches and key concepts individually and after the fact to fashion your Mind Map even more clearly.
The opportunity to edit and modify your Mind Map importantly separates the creative part of the Mind Mapping process from subsequent revisions. No need to consider the exact make-up and the correct layout during your initial brainstorming.
When viewing an extensive Mind Map, you might want to simply hide the currently irrelevant branches to gain a better overview. Or you focus on one singular twig by separating and relocating it to a new Mind Map.
For a clearer perspective of large projects just filter your Mind Map. A filter is a potent tool to find certain information and data related by a common factor. Merlin Project comes with a plethora of built-in filters and even allows for making your own to display only those branches important to you at the time. E.g. all the branches assigned to a particular person.
3. Project management functionality
A Mind Map is a great instrument to capture and structure information. However, when planning and realizing a project, alternate representations like a classical Gantt chart are useful to afford a different view.
In contrast with many other applications, the Mind Map within Merlin Project is specially devised for the methods of working on projects. Compile the hierarchical structure of your project in a Mind Map and Merlin Project automatically transforms your input into the Work breakdown structure with no need for preparing a whole new diagram. Other than the Mind Map and the classical Gantt chart Merlin Project provides many more display formats for your projects.
Use those different views to quickly and easily develop complex activity structures with dependencies among activities and groups, define the durations of individual tasks and establish fixed milestones. In a flash you will have elaborated a precise project plan structured in a sensible hierarchy. Every change you make in one view is automatically transferred to all others.
Merlin Project offers both traditional and agile project management with its integrated Kanban board. Feel free to switch at any time between the views of Work Breakdown > Entry and Net Plan > Kanban or display them at the same time. Your progress automatically updates in all views. With this unique function you easily combine both methods and work with them flexibly.
4. Working in virtual teams
Usually, projects are planned and undertaken as a team. So-called Group Mind Mapping helps analyze and solve problems by several individuals pooling and augmenting their creative skills.
Even if the project team are spatially separated, the appropriate software and suitable technology will allow them to collaborate on a project smoothly. Merlin Project comes packed with helpful built-in functions and multiple additional products for this purpose.
Owing to the novel technology MagicSync team members can work on one and the same project file simultaneously and synchronize their changes with cloud services like Dropbox, iCloud Drive, Box.com or Merlin Server. By dint of MagicSync Merlin Project updates the diverging entries of multiple users across all devices without losing data or generating conflict files. Integrate your project status even from different documents. The automated action of MagicSync via cloud services or Merlin Server can be initiated manually, as well. E.g. when you receive a project status by e-mail.
If you want to share your documents with team members on iPhone or iPad, why not avail yourself of Merlin Project Go. It also works brilliantly with Merlin Server. Subscribe to existing documents on your server and edit them on your iPhone. All changes are synced immediately. Just open your projects from a cloud service or an e-mail like with Merlin Project.
When occasionally working offline with Merlin Project, all changes are initially stored locally and updated the next time you go online. Then Merlin Server or the cloud service consolidate all new elements — your own as well as those of other team members.
In certain situations you may want to keep comprehensive changes to yourself for the time being. Nor would you like to be disturbed by anybody else's editing. If so, simply switch to the private workspace of your Merlin Project document. Your own devices will still update, but your team members will receive your changes only if and when you choose to publish them.
It is important that you be able to convert your Mind Map and other project contents into different file formats to easily share them with others. Not everybody has the same software at their disposal and you yourself may want to process your Mind Map with a different program.
Merlin Project makes for a perfect exchange with other applications. Once you have structured and graphically laid out your project in a Mind Map, simply export and share the image as PDF, JPG or PNG (others file formats are available).
If any of your team members utilize different Mind Mapping software , i.e. Mindjet, just export your Mind Map made with Merlin Project to the prevalent Mind Mapper. No-one needs to do without their favorite Mind Mapping Software.
Among the most common file formats in project management are Microsoft Project and Microsoft Excel. Merlin Project both reads MS Project's .XML and .MPP files and writes to its XML format.
If you care to do further work on your Merlin Project files with Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers or OpenOffice, use the export option of Merlin Project that converts your data to CSV format for the aforementioned applications to read.
There are many reasons for using a project management application with built-in Mind Mapping like Merlin Project for planning and executing projects. Whether such an extensive tool is right for you and your project work depends on many individual factors and is finally your call.