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  • Prem Sundaram

Visual Project Information Management

Visual project information management combines visual thinking tools and data visualization into the art of managing project information. This helps the project manager improve capture, retrieval and communication of critical project information to acheive a successful project.


notecards for project management
Manage a variety of critical project information - visually!

What Information is needed in Project Management?


Project Management is an extremely data intensive business activity and any time project management professionals are capturing, editing, transforming and communicating hundreds of unique data points about the project, the team and its status. What Project Managers (PMs) need are simple and reliable tools to help capture this. A lot of project management software - like kanban boards or gantt charts, do not help in this area.

PMs need to capture and organize a lot of information including:

  • Meeting notes

  • Project goals and project timeline comments

  • Tasks, stages and phase descriptions

  • Issues

  • Ideas

  • Metrics and finances and so much more...

This avalanche of information is often just captured into text notes that appear in a list - making it hard to 'see' the information when looking for it.

Need for Visualization


As the number of data points increases it becomes increasingly useful to show data visually. PMs are not unaware of many visualization tools that they already use for project management including Gantt Charts for project timelines, Kanban Boards for tasks progress, Process Diagrams etc. These are great for certain stages of the project management process but where do you capture and organize all your meeting notes?

But when it comes to notes and information there has not, at least not - until now - been good project management software solutions for seeing the project meeting notes and project information visually. This is especially important now for the increasing demands place on a PM - such as in fast paced agile project management - to have faster ways to see and retrieve their data in this faster pace world - to see the big picture and find the information needed quickly to share or reference in the next meeting.

More often than not, we assume it will be easy to retrieve specific project information from all our different data sources and project management software - emails, notes in OneNote or Evernote, kanban boards like Trello, chat message, web links etc. But in reality if they are not in one place and easy to see you will feel lost and, worse, be unproductive as you try to manage your project team.


What Makes a Good Visual Project Information Management Application?


In our opinion, to have an effective visual project information system it must be designed from the ground up to be visually friendly. To that end the the data must be presented in an information dense way and each note should be displayed in its entirety on the screen along with other notes - so that the project manager sees everything. Most notetaking apps available today show a small amount of text for a whole note, or just a small graphic of the top of the note.


In our view, the only way to solve this is to design an interface based on the 'notecard' format, and that notecard should not expand rather the information inside it should be contained to fit. This way a number of notecards can be created and displayed on a screen providing an information dense view. The notecard format allows the PM to capture snippets on PM information onto each card that can be seen all at once on the screen as mini-images. This is the core of visual project management of information.

Its' a commonly known fact that the eyes can see much more information than we can read.


There is a research study that also confirms this: according to research conducted by the data visualization services firm Insight Information, “the human eye can see visual patterns 65,000 times faster via picture than in tabular form” (Pensa, 2009). As a presult we want visual project management tools to help us be more efficient and productive.

We designed NoteDex to do just this for Project Managers.


NoteDex - A Unique Visual Project Information App


NoteDex was designed specifically for this - to be a true visual view of all the information on a card. This gives a PM the ability to see 20 or more notecards in one screen - a rich information view where they can easily pick out the information they are looking for. Together with scrolling down the page, a PM can rapidly see and identify the meeting or idea scribble very rapidly even if they have hundreds of cards. This is the heart of visual project information management that NoteDex was designed for and a unique spin on knowledge management tools.


We also provide additional 'Kanban' views to help the PM visualize cards - ideal when using cards to represent tasks as part of each stage or phase, and allowing the PM to see the project plan visually - as well as all their notes organized into differnet folders or tag categories.


Summary


PMs' need to manage more than project scope, deliverables, communications and teams - they need to manage large amounts of data as they conduct their agile daily standup meetings. Visual project management software is great but needs to be even better and extended to the area of information capture and retrieval.

Being able to see and visualize to help move the project forward, take actions and communicate are key. Knowledge management tools like NoteDex can help the PM sift through lots of information and visually see - remember a picture is worth a thousand words!


The benefits of visual project information are:

  • Information is available in a single easy to access view with all information related to one project in one place

  • It improves project clarity, organization, focus and understanding

  • Information able to be retrieved, organized and shared easily

If you are a Project Manager and need that one extra tool to help you - as you work with visual project management software tools like Trello (Kanban Boards) and Mindmaps already - then check out NoteDex - a visual project information management tool. It will provide you with the ability to organize lots of information for your different projects and you will be more relaxed knowing all your information is in one place and ready for your next meeting with your project team!

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