Archive for the ‘planning’ Category

Grumpy Old MindManager User

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

MindManager 9 was released in August 2010. Some features from previous versions were omitted and people moaned including me. During this week I have missed three lost features again:

  • A working project planning tool like JCV Gantt.  See this discussion in the Mindjet Forum – Task Info operations’ behavior remain a mystery to me
  • Topic Alerts
  • Outlook Map Parts: I can use the MindManager 8 ones but frustratingly whilst opening an Outlook window for e.g. a task, it does not add the task to to the current topic.  You have to go to the Task window in Outlook, open the Add Ins Ribbon and then add the task to the map.  Made the mistake of demonstrating this to a client before Christmas thinking it was still working in MindManager 9! 🙁

Will Service Pack 2 wind the clock back and when will it appear?

What are you grumpy about?

p.s. I am also grumpy about:

  • Why some web sites bring Firefox to a grinding halt or was it the Skype Add Ins Manager.
  • Why Windows can’t remember the actual size of my extension monitor. It often uses an approximation of 1360 x 768 but it’s actually 1440 x 900.

Being a veteran user and revised features for Task Managment in MindManager 9

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Task Roll Up DependenciesOver time you become programmed to expect that adding a relationship between two topics with an arrow head at the destination implies a finish to start dependency.  It did for several years but now there is an extra step.

This picture (click to see the full size version) shows how you define the dependency type.  The roll up calculator ignores the dependencies until you do this.

You can select all relationships and define as Finish to Start in one action.  Home Ribbon > Select > Select Special and then select the dependency type in the Task Management pane.

Now I can plan that event in minutes!

Unconstrained Project Planning is Best

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

I must have written this somewhere before but after a course I ran yesterday on running MindManager with Microsoft Project I feel like mapping it again.

Unconstrained project planning is the best for getting the most from project planning tools

I started using Project Planning software in 1988 at Unilever Engineering.  I managed to grab a PertMaster Advance box that was lying in a cupboard. I used it not just to plan but also to prepare cost estimate for projects. I was in a man hour based project management consultancy.  If someone said the plan was wrong. The required change was immediately reflected in a cost estimate change.

In 2000 I was one of 4 project managers using a pool of 40 engineers to design, programme, build and commission control systems for blue chip and utility companies at Cougar Automation.  We were resource constrained!  Every Monday we met and discussed our resource scheduling for the next week and month.  Most of the time we had the facts in front of us: resource pool utilisation plan produced by Microsoft Project.   It made it relativly easy to agree who was going to work on what when!  This was only possible if our project plans were relatively unconstrained.  Making programmer unavailable to Project X for a week because he was now going to work on Project Y had to immediately show the impact on Project X.

Why mention these experiences?  The rules I outline above were true two decades ago for me, and at the turn of the century and today.  If you want to maximise the benefit of the time used to produce a project plan following these rules will help.  Short cuts won’t.

To help search engines find this page and those with impaired vision to “read” the map, the image map content is repeated below as a text outline.

Unconstrained Project Planning is Best

1. For getting the most from project planning tools

2. Tasks

2.1 Brainstorm

2.2 Include finish and start milestones (also for phases and stages)

3. Organise

3.1 Work Breakdown Structure

3.2 Phases, Stages, Disciplines,

4. Add the minimum dates

4.1 Earliest start

4.2 Latest finish

4.3 Key milestones

5. Add Resources

5.1 People

5.1.1 Be generic e.g. Builder Project Leader Programmer

5.2 Tools

5.2.1 Bulldozer

5.2.2 Development Computer

5.3 Locations

5.3.1 Meeting Rooms

5.3.2 Building Site

6. Duration

6.1 Recognise duration is not working time it is elapsed time

6.2 Working time is person hours on the job

6.3 Add any significant non-working periods

6.3.1 Christmas

6.3.2 Summer Break

7. Add all the dependencies

7.1 Finish to Starts

7.2 Parallel and Series

7.3 Only link tasks and milestones not phases or stages

7.4 Make sure all tasks are linked at their start and finish except the start and finish

7.5 Do not link the finish to the start (that’s a process!)

8. Save


9. Calculate

9.1 Activate the Task Management Tool in MindManager

9.2 Start JCVGantt

9.3 Export to Microsoft Project or via MPX export to other tools

10. Validate

10.1 Are tasks floating in space?

10.2 Are the start and finish dates reasonable?

10.3 Are tasks running in parallel when they can?

10.4 Identify the critical path

11. Experiment

11.1 Change the finish or start date to find earliest finish or latest start.

11.2 Remove a constraint e.g. Christmas holiday!

11.3 Save a version of the plan e.g. Scenario 1

12. Adjust

12.1 Return to the Least Constrained Model

12.2 Add the dependency and task changes from Scenario 1

12.3 Add new milestones or other discovered constraints


13. Allocation

13.1 Now you have a better model, you can see who it is appropriate to allocate the tasks to.

13.2 One person is made responsible for each task

13.2.1 Too many cooks!

14. Iterate

MindManager Add Ins and other related software

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

This is work in progress. I am compiling a map of the MindManager add ins and related software. There are many more to be added to the map but I thought there were enough now to share with you.

Click the map to see the full size clickable image map.

Please add your suggestions by commenting on this post.

Managing and giving access to document sets. Example Prince2

Friday, February 13th, 2009

How do you get an overview of a complex document set?


ProjectQualityPlan.rtf ProjectQualityPlan.rtf ProjectIssue.rtf ProjectIssue.rtf RequestforChangeForm.rtf RequestforChangeForm.rtf StagePlan.rtf StagePlan.rtf WorkPackage.rtf WorkPackage.rtf OffSpecificationForm.rtf OffSpecificationForm.rtf ProjectInitiationDocument.rtf ProjectInitiationDocument.rtf CommunicationPlan.rtf CommunicationPlan.rtf ExceptionReport.rtf ExceptionReport.rtf ProjectPlan.rtf ProjectPlan.rtf CheckpointReport.rtf CheckpointReport.rtf HighlightReport.rtf HighlightReport.rtf PostProjectReview.rtf PostProjectReview.rtf ProductChecklist.rtf ProductChecklist.rtf QualityLog.rtf QualityLog.rtf RiskLog.rtf RiskLog.rtf BusinessCase.rtf BusinessCase.rtf EndStageReport.rtf EndStageReport.rtf ProjectMandate.rtf ProjectMandate.rtf EndProjectReport.rtf EndProjectReport.rtf FollowonActionRecommendations.rtf

FollowonActionRecommendations.rtf IssueLog.rtf IssueLog.rtf ProductDescription.rtf ProductDescription.rtf LessonsLearnedReport.rtf LessonsLearnedReport.rtf ProjectApproach.rtf ProjectApproach.rtf ProjectBrief.rtf ProjectBrief.rtf AcceptanceCriteria.rtf AcceptanceCriteria.rtf

I developed this map back in 2003 when reviewing Prince2 and how it could be used at a Systems Integrator. Click the map and a RTF template document will download.

You will see a few highlighted documents. These did not exist in the Prince2 set in 2003 but were part of our project management system. It was easy to link to either company or client templates such as Permits to Work and live data such as Finance. This map can be on an intranet giving access to all employees to the current document set. With a simple document approval process (one or two people have the rights to post the current templates to the web site) it can be used to ensure that everyone uses the current version of the template.

You might have a set of documents you use for Customer Management or Accident Reporting or Recruitment or …………….. MindManager can be used to quickly gather together disparate sources of information and turn them in to a coherent process map. For instance in finance you may wish to show internal, accountancy best practice and HMRC (tax authority) documents in a set.

These documents were obtained from the PRINCE2 On-line Ordering and Downloads part of the Official PRINCE2 website in 2003. They are not the current set. A single zip file of all the documents could be downloaded from there in 2003. This is the current Prince2 web site. Now there are MindManager Add Ins such as Olympic’s QP2 which provide a complete management system for Prince2.

Cabre can work with you to create a customised map(s) for your project or company process which links to an existing or new document set. Please contact me to discuss.

MindManager Year Planner for 2009 created with Excel

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

I normally post something to help MindManager Users plan for the new year. I struggled to find something and then I thought about getting the whole year on a map!

It was a challenge but on the way I discovered a useful way of cutting and pasting from Excel. If you structure your spreadsheet like this you can create the dates quickly in Excel and then paste to MindManager.

The first column becomes the main topic. Offset the content of the next column by one row and it becomes a subtopic. The third column creates seven sub-subtopics.

The good thing about Excel is you can quickly create these groups by starting a series e.g. 1, 2 and then dragging it down to fill to 7.

The third column was formed by combining columns 4 and 5.

I then pasted the first three columns on to the map. Hey presto the year appeared.

The organigram format created a compact map to the second level. Increase the level of detail to see the days in a week, month or year.

Download the MindManager map and the Excel 2007 spreadsheet.

It would be interesting to hear if anyone finds these of use.

10 Things to do with MindManager over Christmas and the New Year

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
  1. Make your Christmas present list (Tip: Look at the map you made last year first)
  2. Record all the Christmas presents your family receive and who sent them (Tip: Use Task resources).
  3. Plan the Christmas lunch particularly and the period in general (Bad News: MindManager only works in hours not minutes)
  4. Make your New Years resolutions (Note: See Tip 1)
  5. Plan your must watch TV (Tip: Scrape info of BBC web site or similar)
  6. Play Family Brainstorm (Tip: Great use of wide screen TV)
  7. Map out the things you did not get for Christmas but will buy for yourself in the sales (Tip: Woolies is a mess. Don’t there.)
  8. Index your LP, CD and Cassette collection prior to selling on eBay (Note: This is for nostalgia not making any money)
  9. Research your 2009 holidays (Tip: Drag and drop links and prices from web sites. Note: Conflict with 10))
  10. Pause for some thoughts about how you could make the world a better place in 2009

Please note:

  • I have done some but not all of the above.
  • Some of these maps will have conflicting content. A master map may also be useful.

Have a great Christmas break and all the best for 2009.


p.s. Please substitute Christmas with your preferred festival.

Using MindManager 8 for Task Planning

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

MindManager 8 has a new function for calculating the dates in a task map. You can add topics representing the tasks with their durations. Then link them with relationships to show the order of the tasks. Finally add a start or a finish date. MindManager will calculate the latest start or the earliest finish and the dates for all the tasks.

This map shows a plan for redecorating a boardroom. One of those with plush carpets, paintings on the walls and a large table which you wonder how it ever got in there. No mini bar these days.

The project is partially completed. The tasks in pink are late and the Empty the Room summary task is in yellow because it is at risk of not completing on time.

Resources i.e task owners can be added as well but I have left them out to make the map less cluttered.

If you want to see this as a timeline you will need to use one of the following:

  • MindManager Add In JCVGantt Pro 3
  • Export it to MS Project
  • Export to MPX and import to any project planning tool
  • Finally the Sync with Microsoft Outlook tool and use the Task Timeline view in Outlook.

The first part of my Guide to using MindManager and JCVGantt is valid for setting up a working project plan in MindManager using this new functionality.

If you want to do what ifs on your plan, I suggest you save a copy of the plan with tasks, durations and relationships before you add any dates. After you add a date MindManager calculates and fixes all the dates. If you increase a task duration, the finish date extends but if you reduce a duration or parallel some tasks, the finish date is not brought forward.

My conclusions about this tool are that it will be useful for simple projects, the one shown is probably at the limit. After that any changes which shorten the plan will not be recalculated and the value of this functionality is negated. Of course many projects add tasks and the tasks take longer.

MindManager 8 is released today. What’s new? The flash viewer

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

This is the first of a series of blogs about the new MindManager function. This is the Save As Mindjet Player which creates an SWF (Flash) File which allows the map to be embedded in a web page and lets you interact with it.

This map is a project plan for redecorating a room. All the dates on this map have been calculated using the new MindManager task function but more on that later. I should get my room redecorated just before 2009!

How did I do that?

Save As > Save as type: Mindjet Player Maps – SWF.
Upload the SWF file to my web server.
Use this code to embed the map player in a web page. You may need to remove some of the line returns reduce the empty space around the player.

<object classid=”clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″ codebase=”,0,19,0″ id=”pyn2″ width=”610″ height=”460″>
<param name=”movie” value=””>
<param name=”bgcolor” value=”#FFFFFF”>
<param name=”quality” value=”high”>
<param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”samedomain”>
<param name=”wmode” value=”transparent”>
<embed type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” pluginspage=”” name=”pyn2″ src=”” bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” quality=”high” allowscriptaccess=”samedomain” wmode=”transparent” width=”610″ height=”460″></embed>

What could you use this for?

Using MindMananger and JCVGantt to create project plans

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Last week I ran an afternoon session on using MindManager with JCVGantt to create a project plan. As preparation for that I wrote a 20 page booklet for the attendees but also to make sure I really understood the process. Writing what you think you know, really does reinforce your comprehension.

Creating a project plan that automatically recalculates: the critical path, resources used and cost; requires discipline when setting the model up. The project planning tools have no ability to make assumptions on behalf of the user. 20 years ago I used Pertmaster Advance to estimate project costs and give me a timeline. I remember being asked “Why are you doing this before we have got the job?”. The simple answer is “How could I estimate the job without looking at the plan and considering what could be done in parallel, who could do it, when their and the clients holidays were?” The big advantage is when you have built a robust model and someone asked the really awkward question which throws the spanner in the works, you can make a few alterations to dates or people and the impact is immediately visible.

Outline of the Introduction to JCVGantt

The guide takes you through a process which should create a valid plan. You can see it now as a web site. An Introduction to JCVGantt – Creating a valid project plan in MindManager – Transforming it into a Gantt Chart

MindManager maps morphs into JCVGantt project timeline