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Project estimating – Mindmaps are a tool in the armory

The key to getting something useful out of this article is to read the author’s title carefully. Mind mapping simplifies the process of project estimating -- it doesn’t simplify the actual task-time estimation. Every project manger knows that the work of a project must be broken into separate and manageable units for estimating. To look at a project and think “That’s about a week’s effort” is a recipe for frustration and missed targets. Mindmaps, spider diagrams and bubble charts are excellent for the first phase of breaking a project into manageable parts. For me mindmaps, as strictly defined by Buzan’s rules, are less suitable than spider diagrams for this type of analysis, but we can assume that Dr. Mariaraj is not being too strict in his use of the term below.






How Mind Mapping can make Estimating Project Time an absolutely simple process

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An important aspect of Project Management is scheduling time accurately. This is a critical component of Project planning as this will decide the deadline for the completion of a project - whether small, medium or mega. Closely linked to this is your credibility since you have to meet the deadlines you have committed to. Another crucial impact of Project time scheduling is that when deadlines are not met and the timeline gets extended, project costs escalate accordingly. This will impact on the profitability of your project work. Additionally, it may lead to unnecessary stress and work load in the execution of the projects. More importantly, your credibility takes a beating and can trigger a whole range of other avoidable problems.

Therefore assessing the time period aptly for varied tasks assumes great importance in Project Planning. The usual problem is that most people underestimate the time needed to execute different types of jobs. This is especially so when the person is not very familiar with certain type of tasks. When you are ignorant about certain areas of work involved, it leads to improper judgment of time schedules.

Another aspect is that people fail to fully comprehend the enormity of the tasks involved. They are unable to realize the entire dynamics of the activities that a project work demands. You have to have a clear idea of the entire spectrum of work involved in a specific project.

The foremost requirement for estimating time schedule correctly is a clear understanding of what you need to achieve. You have to have a firm objective defining the outcome of the project in a measurable way. This would mean that you gain a complete and comprehensive picture of the entire project work to be undertaken. Every single aspect of the project work must be crystal clear in your mind's eye. Of course this is gained as you gather more experience. Nonetheless you must strive to thoroughly understand the nuances and nitty-gritty involved in the simplest of tasks. Once you have absolute knowledge of the full range of tasks to be executed, you will be in total control and be able to handle any situations effectively.

The next part is to break down the entire project work into different units of task. By splitting them into different small units, you will know the entire range of work to be undertaken for each of the segments thoroughly. There should no unknown areas as these prove tricky, and invariably consume the greatest amount of time and follow-up. If there are some unfamiliar areas, every effort must be applied to understand the nature of the task and the best way to successfully execute them. After all the multifarious tasks of a project are covered in all their detail and complexity, you will be able to make time schedules for each and every aspect of the task segments. It will enable you make accurate time estimation.

An important element of project planning is allowing time for administrative work such as liaison work, supporting documentation, meetings, quality assurance, supervision, project planning, project management, etc.

Another vital part of scheduling is factoring in time for contingency situations as accidents and emergencies, changed priorities, absenteeism and sickness of employees, breakdown of equipment, non-delivery of supplies, disruptions, strike, quality control rejections, natural disasters and a host of other unexpected turn of events. Very often these are not taken into immediate account and when such situations arise, you will come under intense pressure as the work runs beyond the scheduled time. It is therefore absolutely crucial to incorporate for unforeseen events and build them into the time schedule.

A systematic and meticulous way of assessing every minute aspect of project planning and management will help you in making accurate time schedules for any type of project work. As you gain hands-on experience in handling project work of various dimensions, you will soon become an expert in drawing up appropriate time schedules and project plans.

In such project planning, the standard method employed is to list all the tasks to be undertaken for project execution under different categories. Such a listing process is self-limiting and like a dead end. However by Mind Mapping, you will be able to cover the most intricate details under different sub-groups and make accurate time estimation. Apart from covering every minute part of project work, Mind Maps will help trigger new ideas and solutions, and reveal the links and connections between different aspects of project work. By highlighting the association between various parts of a project you will gain a greater depth of knowledge of the intricacies involved and know how to tackle them in an efficient and creative manner. You can merge all the various Mind Maps into a comprehensive Mind Map so you can assess clearly the dimensions and scale of the project work.

Since concise words are used in Mind Maps, you will be able to cover the entire gamut of work involved in the project plan easily, and evaluate how segments of the job could be better coordinated and aligned for effective execution. These and many other critical advantages can be gained from using Mind Maps. In the hands of an experienced Mind Mapper, not just Project time estimation but even the entire Project Planning and Management tasks are made easy and perfect. Learn Mind Mapping to gauge its effectiveness.


About the Author:

Dr. Vj Mariaraj is a Mind Map enthusiast and has been using Mind Maps for the past twelve years. He has created over 5650 Mind Maps. To learn more about mind mapping send an email to freemindmap@aweber.com . He is the founder of BusinessBookMindMap.com that creates Mind Map Summaries of Business Books. To learn more visit http://BusinessBookMindMap.com/mind-map.php?ga25

Written by: Vj Mariaraj

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The mindmaps or spider diagrams produced in the project-planning phase can show individual tasks, estimates for each task, notes about tasks that need further investigation or special resources to be found, and the assignments to team members of each task. I also like to attach files of information that will support each task, when I have them, or make notes about the need for research. This can be a great way to manage project information.

chad 2007-02-11 22:56:06
Nice.
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