As a certified PMP (Project Management Professional), I am always looking for tools and techniques to get the job done more effectively. For those of you who have been following me for a while it will come as a little surprise that one of my favorite tools is Xmind. Especially having just recently won Xmind’s best mind map competition for 2017.

In this post I will combine these two subjects that I care so much about, and outline some tips for better project management, using Xmind.

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Xmind in a nutshell

Xmind is a mind-mapping tool, and it is considered by many to be the best of its kind, not only for project management but as a productivity tool for individuals and teams as well. If you have not heard of Xmind, I strongly recommend that you try it. especially that a free version available, so you can try it out without any risk. Cool right?

Tip #1 – Create projects Dashboard using matrix layout. Mind map every project using sub-sheets

One of the coolest things about Xmind, is that you can have multiple sheets in one file, with different layout (or structure) for each sheet. This allows us to have a muster sheet in a table (matrix) format and to link each row (project) to a dedicated sub-sheet with all the relevant information, very similar to internal linking between excel sheets.

The main table may include as many columns as needed for example – project manager, next action items, related documents and much more.

  • Required license: Xmind free license is enough.
    For task management (such as % completed, and Gantt view) a pro license is needed.
  • More info: Read more at Xmind blog here, video tutorial here.

Tipe #2 – Use Taskinfo and Gantt View effectively

Prior to version 8, Xmind task management had many limitations. You could not display only tasks in Gantt view, it was very difficult to aggregate total percent completed for clustered tasks and more.

Version 8 however, introduced many improvements to task management.
It is now possible to display only topics marked as tasks (instead all topics).
Task dependencies allows us to display dependency information at the Gantt window. 

Unfortunately, updating completion task of a child-task does not yet update the completion status for the parent task,
This is mostly due to the fact that Xmind at the origin is a mind mapping tool and not  a project management tool.

I can only hope that future updates will continue to bring improvements to this section as it was so far.

 

  • Required license: Task management and Gantt both requires Xmind Pro license.
  • More info: Read more at Xmind blog here.

Tipe #3 – Use Presentation mode to easily create slides from your mind maps

Meetings, and presentations are part of any project, they run through it from the first initiation meeting, to the final closer meeting. Xmind Built in Presentation mode allows you to easily turn you mind map into eye-catching presentation.

There are two ways to use Xmind presentation mode

  • Walk through mode.
    In this mode xmind will automatically add all you topics and sub-topics (starting from the main topic) to the presentation and will allow you to navigate between them one by one.
    You can open specific topics by clicking on them, or simply the map according to the default topics order.

xmind_presentation_walkthrough

  • Side by side story.
    Everybody loves a good story right? Now I am not saying that building your project management skills solely on telling stories, but presenting your ideas, and current project status in an effective, elegant way – this is something I highly recommend.
    Xmind side by side story mode allows you to manually select the topics to be presented, so you can build a custom made presentation to meet any presentation type.
    Furthermore, if you use sub-sheets a discussed earlier in this post, you can change the layout of every to match the topic. 

 

  • Required license: Presentation mode requires Xmind Pro license.

Tip #4 – Use brainstorming mode to collect ideas effectively

Discussions and idea sharing are critical to the success on any project. I have never seen a project that was successful simply by following the leader blindly. Xmind brainstorming mode allows you to collect team members’ ideas easily.
Simply press F8 (or start brainstorming mode from the view menu and start collecting ideas.
The key factor in brainstorming tough is not to organize the ideas into the respected topic while you are brainstorming.
This is because the creativity part of your brain and the organized part of your brain do not work well together, in fact they are in constant conflict. So, if you are organizing and brainstorming at the same time, you are not effectively brainstorming at all. What you should do is simply write down the idea, at most organize them into groups, and then after the brainstorming session drag them into the right topic.

 

  • Required license: Brainstorming mode requires Xmind Pro license.

Conclusion – Effective Use of Xmind for better Project Management

While originally designed for mind mapping, and with that goal still as it’s primary purpose, Xmind (free and pro) provides an variety of tools to help project managers effectively manage and keep track of their projects and tasks, to better collaborate with their team by brainstorming and presenting ideas.

Of course, there are other ways to use Xmind for project management, than the ones mentioned in this post.
I invite you to share your own experience and techniques by adding a comment below.

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