project management mind map
Project management mind map

Have you ever planned a project or brainstormed an idea? It involves a lot of information. Project management activities can be efficiently planned, visualized and organized with mind map technique

On occasions you find yourself occupied with a lot of questions and confusion in scenarios such as:

  • There are a lot of details to start with but no clear picture of how it all fits together
  • The plan is ready but find it difficult to explain to team members or co-workers or even to your boss
  • Difficulty in tracking and mapping all the comments and discussions with the requirements

This is where mind maps can emerge as your savior

Mind mapping is an effective project management technique to help visualize project features, to plan effectively and to enhance creative problem-solving abilities

Consider it as an empty canvas to draw your ideas in a structured manner centered on one single concept

A good mind map shows the complete structure of the project with all the relevant details and emphasis set properly on all important aspects. It helps you break a consolidated idea in smaller pieces that make it much easier to plan and manage

Basic guidelines of a mind map

  • Start with one topic
  • All the ideas must be connected to the center topic
  • The ideas can further delve into sub-ideas in any level of the hierarchy, resembling with a tree that has multiple branches
  • Use images, symbols, and icons to emphasize
  • Use color to distinguish ideas
  • Have connections, associations, dependencies in your map wherever required

Good rules of thumb

  • Do not use lengthy texts to describe an idea. Try to use phrases or short words. This makes the map more focused and clear. All the details could go into notes
  • Use simple language that is easy to understand
  • Don’t add extra complexities such as excessive images, icons, colors, connections that make the map difficult to follow for others

Mind maps could easily be drawn on a piece of paper or on a board. Also, there are many tools available to help in creating quality maps quickly like Bubbl.us, Mindmeister, iMindMap, Mindjet, and MindGenuis. A complete list of tools is available here

Project management activities with mind map

#1. Brainstorming

Mind maps come very handy in brainstorming requirements and organizing ideas

They are an efficient way to break large plans into small manageable chunks

Helpful Tips

  • Firstly, list all your ideas centered on the topic, with no established relations or connections. Any feature that could add any value to the central idea, put them on map
  • Then, dig deep with each feature individually and list all functionalities that could be covered
  • Set priorities by adding the numbering
  • Lastly, add icons, colors, and images to uniquely identify features and create a beautiful mind map

All this helps in keeping track of all the requirements and help in preparing a quality scope for the project

#2. Planning

Mind mapping promotes effective planning without getting overwhelmed with the project requirements and complexities

Helpful Tips

  • Identify dependencies or associations or connections between all the features of the project
  • List probable assumptions and risk factors either for every feature or for the overall project
  • Plan development or execution of the project in Milestones/Iterations by identifying the priorities, complexities, and efforts. This will help attain a broader picture on overall aspects and set detailed focus
  • Summarize all the information, revisions, discussions as “Notes” in the mind map against each module to keep a better track of everything

#3. Decision Making

Well laid plans always help in taking better decisions

It is always better to take decisions from a well-developed plan that can be visualized. The same decisions could probably be achieved in the traditional manner using excel or word document with a detailed description as well, but visuals always tend to make more impact than just plain text

Decision trees could be easily plotted with mind maps to map all the scenarios, risks, complexities, and connections and then decide the best way to go with

#4. Problem Solving

Mind mapping is a way to promote creative thinking

It can bring following benefits in improving problem solving abilities

  • Mind maps allow quick reviews. As all the details are visually available, it becomes easy to follow
  • It can act as mnemonics to help you remember the short phrases and words

#5. Communicating details to your stakeholders

Visuals always aid in providing better explanations and bringing clarity in the thought processes

With mind maps, it becomes very easy to share the on-going thoughts with all the involved stakeholders

  • Add discussions that can later act as important reference material
  • Set clear expectations
  • Minimum chances of lack of clarity or misunderstanding which could save a good deal of time and arguments at later stages

#6. Team co-ordination and discussion

Mind maps save plenty of time in explanation. The well-laid details make it easier for individuals to understand and relate to the project better. It can provide:

  • Complete documentation tracked at the same place
  • Clear representation of hierarchies and associations/dependencies
  • Recorded details, notes, references throughout the project life-cycle

These are some of the many project management activities where mind map is helpful. You can explore a lot more with mind maps. I am sure you’ll love using them!

References

Check out these mind map galleries and resources to learn more about mind maps

This article was originally published by me on Medium

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot is the owner of this blog. She works as a Management Consultant with businesses to set up processes, and coordinate as Project Manager to help develop IT solutions. Travelling, reading, and shopping are her core interest besides work. Surbhi is available for consultant projects full-time, part-time, or remote work

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