Requirements for project information like schedules and timelines are more collaborative and interactive than ever. Management, sponsors, and interested team members want their own view into project data with the option to slice and dice information and make their own edits and additions. Such requirements may mean changing up your current project management tools.
If you are facing these new requirements, it could be time to check out Mindjet. You might know Mindjet mind maps as graphical tools for brainstorming new ideas; however, Mindjet (the company) has rebranded its tools with a focus on project management, team collaboration, and communications. The applications are now available as a part of a subscription service that includes:
- Mindjet desktop application available for the PC and Mac
- Mindjet apps for iOS and Android
- Public cloud service called Mindjet web or the Mindjet on premise private cloud solution (it runs on top of SharePoint)
The Mindjet platform also has a number of integration options for enterprise and cloud tools like Box, Yammer, Evernote, and others. Mindjet pricing starts at $30.00 a month per user with discounts available for teams of five or more users.
Mindjet as a project management solution closes some important gaps that traditional Gantt chart and desktop project management applications can't quite touch. For example, project planning can be spread across multiple tools depending on the manager and the team. Using MindJet for project planning can help break the silo between Planning and Execution according to the company because you are staying in the same tool for scheduling, analysis, and project documentation.The Mindjet desktop application includes a number of project management and planning templates such as Project Plan, Project Charter, and Project Timeline. There are also visual replacements for age-old project documents including SWOT Analysis, process definition, and risk management. Mindjet has a site called Maps for That! with additional templates for download. Figure A shows a Project Timeline from Mindjet. Figure A
A Mindjet project plan in progress (Click the image to enlarge.)
As a project planning medium, Mindjet supports tags, meta tags, links, images, and other content. A recent upgrade adds support for numerical calculations to mind maps — this is quite useful for what/if analysis and visualization of sales pipelines and other financial forecasting mechanisms.Visualizing project plans with Mindjet includes a Gantt Chart and List view. There is also an option to share tasks using Microsoft Outlook or SharePoint, which is going to be important for some organizations. If you dive further into the task information, you are going to find a robust tool that includes nice visualization options, all accessible from a sidebar (Figure B). Figure B
Task information in Mindjet (Click the image to enlarge.)
Microsoft Project integration enables you to export map data into Microsoft Project, which is a mandatory requirement in my book for project management applications these days. The Export process is simple and straightforward. However, just like any data export between applications, you are going to have to clean up the presentation once you get it into Project.
There is a real-time collaboration element Mindjet that could set the standard for other tools in the market space. The real-time component of Mindjet comes from the company's acquisition of Cohuman, an online collaboration tool. The new Mindjet enables you to save maps such as project timelines and project plans to Mindjet web, where you can collaborate on project data and forecasting information with the rest of your team regardless of their geographic location or device. All of this can be done using either a public or a private cloud depending on your Mindjet subscription.
One of Mindjet's strengths is data synchronization. When you upload a project document to the cloud, any changes to the document synchronize to all users who are accessing the documents whether they are using Mindjet on a tablet, PC, Mac, or via a web browser.Another important element is that Mindjet does a great job of maintaining the document format across platforms. Figure C shows a project plan map open in the cloud. Figure C
A map appearing in Mindjet web (Click the image to enlarge.)The cloud also has a Tasks view that can be useful for assigning tasks and tracking progress. Here is an example of the Mindjet web Tasks view (Figure D). Figure D
The Tasks view (Click the image to enlarge.)
Mindjet as your next project management tool
Mindjet does a wonderful job of making the leap from its origins as a brainstorming tool to a full-fledged project management application. Mindjet also has a wealth of professionally done online documentation that can help get you and your team live on the tools and test them against some of your current project management and team collaboration pain points.
If you are outgrowing your current project management tools and templates, you might consider checking out the free trial of Mindjet.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.