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“MindManager is a Key Tool Every PM Should Have in Their Toolkit,” says Andy Makar

Andy Makar - Project Manager

You may have noticed recently that we’ve been writing a lot about improving productivity and processes in your worklife. We’re obsessed with finding ways to help people find better and more efficient ways to improve both their own, and their team’s productivity. We love hearing how MindManager customers are finding news ways to move the dial on the results they get at work, and are thrilled to be a part of that journey.

As part of this obsession with productive teams, we’ve interviewed three of our customers about how they use MindManager, and how it helps them boost their productivity. Follow the Mindjet Blog over the next few weeks to hear from more of our valued customers.

This week’s customer interview comes from Andrew Makar, an IT Director and an Agile enthusiast with a keen interest in putting PM Theory into actual practice. In addition to his professional cat herding role, he is an author, instructor and lecturer on IT and project management. Andy has been an avid MindManager user since 2002. He can be reached at andy@tacticalprojectmanagement.com

Here’s what Andy had to say.

Q: How would you describe what you do for a living?

Andy: I’m an IT director responsible for project and program management, and corporate, marketing and sales systems. I’ve worked in IT my entire career with a primary focus on project and program management.

In this role, I mostly manage information technology projects, which include digital marketing, website development, corporate enterprise resource package implementations and customer relationship management system.

Q: What problems were you having with managing projects prior to learning about MindManager?

Andy: Some of the biggest issues I used to face were related to defining project scope, as well as the simple development of a work breakdown structure (WBS). This, combined with a variety of business factors, contributed to an overall administration overhead and burden that is commonly associated with project management.

Q: How did mind mapping help solve those problems?

Andy: Mind mapping helped solve these problems by providing a visual way to communicate complex ideas quickly and easily. By drawing a picture of a project’s scope or diagramming a high level WBS, complex problems were communicated easier without needing paragraphs of text.

Q: How does MindManager help you be more productive?

Andy: Mind mapping is one of the key tools that every project manager should have in their toolkit to improve productivity and communication. One example is in documenting meeting minutes. Instead of creating an agenda and transcribing the notes into a Word document, you can just use a map to facilitate the meeting and capture the notes in real time.

Q: How does MindManager help with switching between projects?

Andy: All project managers need to get used to constantly switching between different projects. Mind mapping helps makes this easier by allowing you to create a WBS faster, define scope better and develop team organization charts quickly, all with the same tool.

The key benefits of mind mapping for this is in the visual communication. I’ve found it easier to communicate visually rather than write long paragraphs of text. The visual nature of mind mapping lends itself to better communication and understanding.

Q: How does MindManager help you with defining requirement for new projects?

Andy: The benefits are particularly evident in project planning and scope definition. Normally, a new project starts out with all sorts of ideas. Organizing those ideas into a mind map and asking for clarification on scope helps clarify the project scope and boundaries. Being able to confirm if a feature is in out of scope by using a visual diagram is particularly helpful.

I’ve found that mind mapping is applicable across the entire project lifecycle. I primarily use mind mapping in the project initiation, planning and closure phases. Mind mapping has its role during project execution and monitoring, but I primarily use it in the initial phases of the project.

Q: What do you like about MindManager’s project management tools?

Andy: The Gantt chart view is particularly useful for communicating a high-level timeline. In actual practice, I use the mind map to establish scope and a high level work breakdown structure. Once I have scope confirmed, a team organization chart and a high-level WBS is developed. Then I use these maps to build out the actual schedule with the project management tools.

It’s a fantastic tool to gather requirements and organize features. When it comes to execution and management of tasks, I typically switch to other tools for real-time collaboration and scheduling. It is important to have multiple tools in a project manager’s toolkit, and MindManager is one of those key tools!

Q: How do you use MindManager with your team?

Andy: We typically use MindManager for brainstorming, and gathering requirements and scope definition as a group. By displaying a mind map and projecting it on a screen, I can engage the entire team to collect ideas and organize them effectively.

After the brainstorming session, I simply distribute the map. For example, defining the taxonomy and required features of a new website is made much easier by mind mapping. It lends itself perfectly to developing a site map as a team, and capturing notes about key features and requirements.

Overally, mind mapping helps to reduce administrative tasks, simplifies agencies and improves communications between team members. By thinking visually, everyone’s ideas are better communicated.

Q: How does projecting a mind map for a meeting change the dynamics of that group?

Andy: I’ve found this technique is very useful in strategic planning, brainstorming ideas to solve a problem or capture a list of features for a software product. The dynamic nature of collapsing or expanding nodes helps improve engagement. Plus, it’s different from the boring old agenda in a Word document format, or death by PowerPoint.

I encourage teams to give it a try and see how it changes to dynamic and engagement in a meeting!

Want to learn how to supercharge your productivity?

Adam Cherill | WebinarYou’re in luck! In his recent webinar, expert project manager Adam Cherrill shared his insights into what he calls “High-Velocity Productivity”. Adam has spent 20+ years in the U.S. aerospace and defense industry in a variety of engineering, business development, programs management and leadership roles.

Join us as we dig into:

  • Individual productivity: Mastering personal workflow
  • Team productivity: Applying the “Rules in Use” method
  • Organizational productivity: Understanding the Theory of Constraints principles

PLUS! Practical tools to help you put these principles into action after the webinar.

If you’re a knowledge professional who thinks for a living and seeks better guidance, navigation, and control of their work, you’ll want to check out this webinar. View the recording now!

 

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