Posts Tagged ‘planning’

MindManager task management overview and relevant add ins

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Task Management Overview for MindManager - So many options and Add Ins

A client contacted me recently and asked for some guidance on how to manage his task list with MindManager. So I prepared an overview of the options in a MindManager map – Task Management Overview. It summarises what you can do with MindManager (Windows version mostly), Mindjet Tasks, Microsoft Office and Add Ins.

  • Desktop Alone
  • Desktop & Mindjet Tasks
  • Desktop & Outlook
  • Desktop & MS Project
  • Desktop & Excel
  • Addins – for Excel and “Getting Things Done

The overview doesn’t answer the client’s question it just shows the options from having a single map, through to interacting with Mindjet Tasks or Outlook, to exporting and importing from Excel and MS Project, to using add ins from the simple: My Things, to the complex: Results Manager.

The generic answer to managing your tasks (and other peoples tasks) successfully with MindManager is:

  1. Pick an option
  2. Define a process
  3. Stick to it for a week or a month
  4. Has it achieved your objectives?
    1. Yes – Repeat
    2. No – Why not? Look for an option that fills the gap
  5. Be prepared to compromise. The only software that will fully satisfy your requirements is one you write yourself! Commissioning someone else to write it is unlikely to satisfy you.  Admit you haven’t got the time or money to do that and make the best of what you can get off the shelf.

30 years ago I had a Commodore Pet which ran a chemical factories planned maintenance management system in Liverpool. It didn’t do things the way we “wanted” to but after a year even the most unionised technician on my staff was happy to have it on his bench.  It gave him a defined process, a database that was easy to edit, a range of reports and made his life easier. One of the options in the map will do it for you to.

Please download the MindManager map to see the details: Task Management Overview

Creating a Table Plan with Mindjet or MindManager

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Last Saturday I hosted a dinner for 60 at the local golf club for the Alresford Pigs Association (a charity I am in my last few weeks of chairing.  We help people not pigs by the way.).  On Friday I created the table plan. Five tables of 8 and two of 10.

I knew I could do this with Mindjet 11 or earlier versions of MindManager. I used table 5 as the central topic but you could use the title. All the other tables and title are floating topics.  The arrangement of tables and the doors approximates the actual layout. All topics have an area around them that cannot be overlapped by other topics. You may have to compromise.

I had all the names in two Excel spreadsheet columns (first name, surname). These can be copy and pasted direct to the map and form topics whose text is “first name surname”.  I had already allocated names to tables in the spreadsheet but you could paste the whole set in the map and then drag and drop to tables.  Letters in names have been replaced by #.

On Saturday afternoon one couple cancelled on a table of 8. A table of 10 had a couple dragged to another table. Print to A3 paper or poster print. Table plan done.

Formatting tips:

  • The Main Topic Handles are hidden with View > Detail > Show/Hide
  • Line Style has been set to: No line
  • Main and Sub Topic Shape has been set to: No line

Dining Table Plan Example

Download Table Plan Example Mindjet Map

This project was completed with Mindjet 11 for Windows. It will work with all previous versions of MindManager for Windows, Mindjet Web and, Mindjet and MindManager for Mac. The iPad and Android versions do not support floating topics but you could use the standard map arrangement.

Interview about Mind Mapping & Software

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Chantal Cooke from Passion for the Planet interviewed me about mind mapping and mind mapping software.  Click to listen to the interview Mind Mapping and Software or on the summary mind map below.

Mind Mapping and Software Interview with Andrew Wilcox. Principles, Publishing, Thinking to Action, Communicating, Appropriate, Learning to Use, Who

Andrew Wilcox Interview - About Mind Mapping and Software Andrew Wilcox Interview - About Mind Mapping and Software Chantal Cooke - Passion for the Planet Chantal Cooke - Passion for the Planet Andrew Wilcox - Cabre - Mind Mapping Software, Training and Consultancy Andrew Wilcox - Cabre - Mind Mapping Software, Training and Consultancy

Optimising your travel plans with MindManager

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Every fortnight for the next few weeks I will be travelling on Monday morning from Alresford in Hampshire to Mortlake in London. If you have ever watched the University Boat Race you will have heard the name. I have to be there at about 09:30. I will be comming back at 14:30ish.

I don’t want to drive and I started to look at the various routes and modes of transport I could use to get there. I knew the train fare would be more expensive from Winchester than Alton. I knew I could get lifts to Winchester and the bus back. I knew the bus times would be awkward. So I started to map it out.

I used a technique Nick Duffill introduced me to many years ago called Funnel Timeline. It’s a core process for using Results Manager. You place the objective on the right and start working back from their.

My objective is to be in Mortlake for 09:30 on Monday morning. I have a five minute walk from the railway station to the event. I used app on the iPad to get the train times and prices. It works a lot faster than the browser version on my PC. I used the local bus timetables. I have a friend who gives me lifts to Winchester railway station when I need them. He leaves at 0625 every day! And my wife can drop me off in Winchester on her way to work.

You can see the conclusions by clicking on the Alresford to Mortlake by 0930 map below.

Alresford to Mortlake by 0930 - the optimised route and times

And for those who have no idea where I ma talking about, here is a map showing the driving route.

View Larger Map

Using MindManager to prepare for an interview

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
MindManager map of questions and keyword answers for an interviewToday I was interviewed by Chantal Cooke from Passion for the Planet about Mind Mapping and Mind Mapping software for her digital radio station. Chantal sent me an email with an outline of the interview, so I could prepare my thoughts.  I copied and pasted the questions to a  MindManager Map and inked my responses to them in keywords / phrases. Click the map to see full size.

I think this really helped me answer the questions and made my responses sound professional.  I was not looking at the map during the interview.  You will have to wait until November to hear the result and the actual content.

Turning Ideas Into Accessible Information – Plans for the Road Show

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Turning Ideas Into Accessible Information an outline MindManager map for the interactive sessionThe Mindjet MindManager 9 Road Show is on in London and Birmingham on Thursday and Friday, and next Tuesday in Manchester. I am very pleased to be running a 30 minute session titled “Turning Ideas Into Accessible Information”.

The map is the outline of the session (there are more subtopics to prompt me). I would like it to be an interactive session. I am looking to the audience to pose questions for which I can produce an example to demonstrate how MindManager can be applied successully to solve the problem.  (Rabbit popping out of hat comes to mind)

If you are coming or not what questions would you ask of me?

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.