5 Ways to Use Visual Project Management

Visual project management simply means using graphs, pictures, graphs, and charts to present project information.
People who prefer to draw or mindmap their To Do lists have done so for years. Those who prefer creating lists opt to create a list of tasks. We are seeing that project management tools are becoming more flexible to accommodate both preferences. This makes it easier to share information visually with those who need it. It also makes it easier for others to grasp complex ideas using simple graphics.
Why visual project management matters
It is much easier to communicate complex constructs and share many data points in a graph than it would be in a paragraph. This has been true for a long time, but technology makes it easier to extract the information we need and present it in an easy-to-understand format.
Visual communication is on the rise. According to Alexa YouTube is the second most popular website in the world with almost 20 minutes per day of users visiting the site. YouTube is also a popular search engine: users can find ‘how-to’ videos on almost anything, from understanding the complicated functionality of your enterprise project management tool to how to make crochet turning chains.
Screen capture taken from Alexa.com 9 September 2021Buzzsumo reports the average share for video content is trending up by almost twice and as far back in 2010 Forbes was reporting video is a critical source of information for senior executives. This highlights an upward trend towards watching business content online in video format.
The web is moving away from a text-based environment and becoming more visual, graphic, and video-based. This is also affecting workplace communication.
What this means for project managers
Your team members are seeing information in different formats. For example, the rise of Facebook video means that more people are now consuming video content. We’re also more used to searching for it. People bring their communication preferences into the workplace.
Your project sponsor will expect the same level information – condensed into manageable chunks – if they can download a three-minute video about the state of the economy and a complex piece of research on health.
Why not? We have the tools to help them.
How to Incorporate Visual Communication into Projects
You can share project performance data in a way that makes it easy for stakeholders to understand, whether it’s by breaking down complex processes into a simple process diagram or showing project progress on an interactive plan.
Here are five ways to visual project management communications.
1. Visual Planning Tools
No matter if your team uses Agile or waterfall-based methods (or a combination of both), you should think about how you can share your project schedule and ideas with your team.
Many project managers copy and paste milestones from their Gantt charts and list them in a report. You might consider showing a rolled-up version of your Gantt diagram instead. Or creating a visual plan that tracks milestones and only highlights the key milestones over time. This is a better way to share project progress than a list.
Kanban boards can be used in the same way: Create a high-level board showing the main project steps and progress and include a snapshot in your progress report.
2. Mindmaps
Mindmapping software is often associated with creativity sessions and process flows. But, you can do much more.
What is your project requirements document? If you have clearly defined requirements, there will be many pages of detailed notes. Although a mindmap does not eliminate the need for the team members to have all the detail, it does make it easier.