How to Use Mind Mapping for Project Management
Who plans, executes, controls, monitors every stage of the project starting with discussing and up to closure? Project Managers (PMs). In this article, you’ll find dozens of useful tools/apps to ease their work. How to make them more proactive and more successful? Just give them access to the ideas, tasks, solutions of the other team members.
Mind Maps is an incredible feature to organize and track the work, timelines, responsibilities, and dependencies with high accuracy. Though, it’s not a novelty. Yep. 40 years (!!!). And that’s not the age, by the way, but how long people use the method for different properties, including the planning, organization, management of different projects. The first concept of the method was presented by Tony Buzan (a vaunted British researcher and consultant) in 1972.
Today the concept is improved, popularized, and widely used in the business by the managers for creating visual maps, explicating ideas, planning big projects. Because of it, mind mapping is essential if we are about project management.
Mind mapping: what is it?
The idea is the ground for everything. The next step is to formulate a plan, find a team, organize the work, and move on the roll. Mind mapping is really helpful at the planning stage. However, let’s define mind maps. It’s a technique used to present and structure information visually. It’s best to see what resources are needed and what you are to do on your way to the goal.
You can organize the related topics around the core and central idea with graphically established connections between the concepts and/or ideas by means of lines and curves. Thus, create a web of relationships. Herewith, any complex tasks/ideas/concepts can be classified, captured, analyzed, and visualized. Thus, break down the entire project into smaller actionable tasks to assign them to certain executors. It definitely eases the realization of the core idea.
Mind Maps in Your Project – How-to Guidance
If you’re thinking about starting a new project, you’ve so much to plan and organize. Certainly, today lots of tools are at your disposal to use for the purpose. However, it’s easy to visualize your idea using mind maps. Thus, you’ll see the full image. Define the scope, identify requirements, record meetings, manage team, and lots of other things can be done by means of mind mapping.
1. Collect project requirements and define the scope
When it comes to collecting requirements and you need to define the scope, mind maps are really helpful though. Herewith, using the graphical technique, visually define the scope, the human resources needed, the time required, identify the requirements, and just manage the step-by-step work. Mind Maps present a full image of the project, including the meeting notes, audit reports, the structure, etc. by means of words, lines, colors.
2. Break the scope into detailed tasks
Mind Mapping is extremely useful when it comes to a really large project. Just because the tool gives you an opportunity to break down the idea into lots of big subtasks with a host of small tasks, etc. Besides, describe the tasks in detail without a need to write hundreds of documentation pages.
In such a way you can create a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure). WBS allows you to cluster the tasks and subtasks into logical groups and focus on the tasks to be done right now. It also helpful when developing a business plan. Thus, you will get a broad picture of what you need to do to achieve the goal and control each task with high accuracy, eliminating the risk to miss something out.
3. Develop project roadmaps
When you define the scope, break it into smaller tasks, then it’s the moment to reorganize the map and structure it as a work breakdown (WBS). Develop project roadmaps for improving your team effectiveness. The roadmaps are good to quickly re-/organize ideas and get confirm work streams in a project.
4. Record meeting and discussion notes
It’s obvious that large projects require lots of human resources. That is fraught with many calls and meetings to hold. It becomes a true challenge to keep in mind all the decisions and follow-up tasks. Use mind mapping to capture the conversation, save discussion notes, and follow-ups in the single document. What’s more, no converting is needed, send the map after the meeting finished.
5. Manage team more effectively
How to manage the team more effectively using the mind maps? Thanks to the tools and features provided hierarchical nodes can be created. That allows PMs to save time to assign workers to tasks quickly. Besides, mind maps improve not only the organization but the communication by means of visual dimension. Consequently, the team works with higher efficiency.
6. Brainstorm ideas, concepts, strategies and project objectives
Lots of Mind Maps have built-in brainstorm tools that are useful to define the scope, write down ideas, discuss concepts, strategies, and objectives. The ability to present the ideas in the visual and hierarchical format is a highlight of the method. Yes, visualized plan and concepts are much easier to understand, remember, control.
7. Improve decision-making
Project management is fraught with lots of choices and decisions. Mind maps can improve decision-making in a particular context. The ability to enlist the whole team in the discussions fastens the process of agreement and confirmation of further actions. What’s more, it’s much easier to find a better way when the entire project before the eyes.
Mind mapping benefits for project management
It’s a more likely old concept but highly popular and widely used for project management today. Discussion, creation, and exploring the maps with other team members is good to generate ideas, solve problems, understand the concepts. That’s possible thanks to the visual aspect of the tool. Let’s observe the benefits of mind mapping below.
Help in generating new ideas
Thanks to the illustrative purpose of the technique you make the brain work more effectively in a more creative way. Mind maps stimulate your more dominant right side of the brain. Herewith, mind mapping helps in generating ideas to start the project. Besides, using the tool, other members of your team can be involved for higher efficiency. It’s a well-known fact that two heads better than one.
Improve critical and creative thinking skills
Besides the aforementioned ways to use mind mapping, the tool is excellent to create a new perspective on the info and see things differently. Thus, you stimulate your critical and creative thinking. Using not only words but images and various colors on your map, you start to think outside the box. It is bound to figure out an absolutely new and fresh way to solve the problem or task.
Help with problem-solving
Various difficult situations can take place in any project. It’s important to solve difficulties fast. As we have mentioned above, mind mapping is helpful in finding an out-the-box solution. Thanks to the structure and visibility of maps you’ve got the capability to see the entire project with all connections. That is a way to outline the problem and bring aboard other members of the team to discuss and find the solution. Yes, everybody knows that a problem shared is a problem halved.
Improve learning and understanding of concepts
It’s a well-known fact that visual information is much easier to understand and remember. Mind maps are visually driven. That makes mind mapping not only a perfect option for planning but the presentation. Showing your ideas eases the understanding and learning of the project concepts.
Let’s summarize. Project management is a time-consuming process that requires lots of skills and, sometimes, creativity. Mind Mapping is what can help to manage large projects and succeed. We found a tool essential to plan, visualize, control, track the project from the idea to the realization. Besides, the method is useful for analyzing existing plans, improving efficiency, increasing the productivity of your team. Use the technique and make the process more transparent, clearer and easier.
Anna Zvada is the Senior Project Manager of DDI development. Anna is a capable, self-motivated individual who has exposure to delivering a lot of projects within tight timeframes and to budget. Creative approaches to project management is her passion.