Previously, in Managing a Simple Plan, I have illustrated how a simple plan might be managed using MS Outlook and mind mapping software (MindView).  Using the same starting point the plan might also be managed using a Gantt chart.

Making a Plan

As before, follow the 5 step procedure to create a plan. 

 

Replace Garden Shed

In this instance I’ll use the plan referred to previously for replacing my garden shed. 

The initial ideas for the plan are added to the MindView template and refined until the list of steps is satisfactory. 

Add dates to each step to be included in the plan.

 

To get a Gantt view of the plan using MindView is simplicity itself –  from the “View” menu, select the “Gantt” view.

Gantt

All the elements of the plan are listed as tasks in the MindView Gantt view.  The timeline is created automatically from the dates entered previously, creating the typical Gantt view of tasks over time.

Replace Garden Shed Gantt

If you go on to manage the plan using MindView you can update the tasks with progress and status or you can edit tasks and add new ones.  MindView also includes a project reports function which creates a snapshot of the project for viewing in a browser.

Replace Garden Shed report

Or if you prefer you can export the plan to MS Project.

Replace Garden Shed Project

Advertisements

Something needs to be done.  Maybe a report needs writing or maybe you need to book a holiday.  Whatever it is, a moment’s reflection before diving into the action might help you achieve whatever needs doing more efficiently or with less prevarication.

When the need for a simple task first arises, it is sometimes easy to dive straight in.  However after some hard work you might realise that you’ve taken a wrong direction, misunderstood the brief or just gone off at half cock.  In other situations it can happen that you start thinking about what the the finished article might be, what it might look like, where you might go or what people might think of what you’ve produced.  Before you have even started on the task, its apparent difficulties or the effort that might be involved start to grow in your mind.  The task then seems more complicated, risky or time consuming than at first thought and procrastination creeps in.

To help you focus its worth taking just a few minutes to devise a simple plan.  This can be broken down into five steps:

  • Decide the aim or goal – what needs to be achieved
  • List the small steps you will take to achieve the goal
  • List the obstacles that might get in your way
  • Make a mini-plan of the small steps you will take to overcome each obstacle
  • Consolidate all the small steps into a simple list and review the list.

Then do the first actions now.  Make a start – you might not be able to book that holiday right away but you can take the first steps towards it – doing some research; deciding a budget; finding out where everyone wants to go; checking prices and so on.

Making a PlanThe mind map summary (created using MindView) includes additional focus questions to prompt you and help you stay focussed.

The plan you produce can be as simple as list of things to do with some idea of the order in which to do them.  Alternatively, you might want or need to set some dates against each item or note to whom you might delegate a step.  Depending on what you come up with, you might set the steps as tasks in Outlook, for instance, or go even further and create a small Gantt chart or timeline.

You might not be able to identify everything you need to do at the first attempt but you will have enough to encourage you to make a start.  Ideas for additional steps will arise naturally as you execute your simple plan.

Technorati Tags: ,

Presenting Project Timelines

February 22, 2011

tmp2 Gantt charts are most commonly used by project managers to represent activities and milestones over time.  These work well however there are times when an alternative form of presentation would be nice.  Not everyone new to projects and project management understands or appreciates Gantt charts, for instance.

One alternative is a timeline.  There are many ways of creating these using software but one of the easiest to maintain might be that produced by MindView.  MindView can take a project plan – whether a mind map created in MindView (or MindManager) or in MS Project – and prepare a timeline view with just a few clicks.  Programme - timeline filter

As with most things, too much detail can hide the key messages, so filter the items to show just what you need.