It's possible I've tried nearly every type of project management software available and most of the time I've failed miserably. Have you ever committed yourself to finding and using (and I mean REALLY using) some kind of project management idea, software, or system, spent lots of time setting it up, and then realized a week or two later that it's not updated anymore? I know I have. Do you want to find a better way?
Sometimes, the reality is that project management software is too cumbersome to use. It takes longer to keep the software updated than it does to do the work. And how do you increase your productivity when you're spending a big part of your day just managing your projects?
Mindmapping, on the other hand, is a more intuitive way to manage projects, particularly if you have a lot of responsibilities and it's easy to let something slip if it's not right in front of you.
The system I use has two parts - mind maps and a really good (and inexpensive) web-based project management tool. I'm currently checking out OpenMind 2 Business - which combines mapping with traditional project management tools (e.g., Gantt charts, timelines) - and am REALLY impressed. A full review of the experience will follow with screenshots, tips and tricks, etc. For the moment, I highly recommend Chuck Frey's review of OpenMind 2 Business.
Manage Projects with Mind Map Software
My system uses mindmaps for the big-picture view of projects and project management, and I add maps until I get to the smallest task size that's still useful (the "next action" level in GTD parlance for those of you familiar with David Allen and Getting Things Done). I plan my week on a single mindmap which I then link to maps for specific projects and clients. For example, my weekly map might have a topic labeled "meeting prep for big project X, phase II," which links to my map for big project X. That map has everything I need to know about big project X in one place, with links to information and other resources I need to be more productive.
Mindmapping Project Management Resources
If you're interested in using mind mapping as an alternative to (or to enhance) project management software, here's where you should begin. This list isn't complete - I'm only comfortable recommending resources I've personally used or read and found valuable.
- OpenMind 2 Business, by MatchWare, not only is a great mapping tool, and it's the holy grail that combines mind mapping and project management. Convert maps to outlines, Gantt charts, timelines, export to Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, HTML, import from those same programs - there's way too much to love about OpenMind 2 to list here. Check out Chuck Frey's review of OpenMind 2 for more info - I can't recommend this software enough if you want to bring mapping into your small or large organization. (Free trial and online demo available.)
- How to Use Mind Mapping Software for Project Management, detailed article on Innovation Tools
- Power Tips & Strategies for Mind Mapping Software ebook by Chuck Frey. If you want to learn about mind mapping right now, this is the place to start. Available for immediate download, Power Tips & Strategies is loaded with basic and advanced strategies for getting the most out of your mind mapping software, including project management (p. 17). In my opinion, you simply can't go wrong with Chuck's ebook.
- The Mind Map Book, Tony Buzan. (Especially Section D.)
- Google search for mind mapping and project management
- Sample Project Management Mind Map at MindJet (scroll down to see the sample map)
- A thoughtful discussion of using mind maps for project management
- Visual Project Maps (project management software integration with Mind Manager). Free 21-day trial. Check out the demo. (Disclaimer: this was referred by a friend who loves it - I've never used it myself.)