I recently had the opportunity to download and review the MindGenius 2018 release – their latest mind mapping software release for the Windows platform. I’ve written about MindGenius before (TechRepublic: Five Reasons to Use MindGenius on your Projects) and I’ve been a big fan of their mind mapping approach for years. MindGenius provides a new set of features to help project managers, marketing teams, HR personnel, entrepreneurs and other business professionals quickly apply visual thinking and mind mapping to their business.
The new features can be broken down into:
- New User Interface Updates
- Dynamic Views
- Gantt Chart Improvements
- Solution Finder
New User Interface
The MindGenius 2018 interface has been updated with a more modern user interface similar to the latest Windows Office updates. I liked the new user interface as I was able to get to many more features quickly from the main navigation bar. Below is the MindGenius 6 user interface and the updated MindGenius 2018 interface.
By placing the Templates gallery on the main navigation bar, I found it easy to quickly access the key project management template maps. With over 18 different project management templates, project managers can quickly create maps for both traditional waterfall and agile development projects.
The dynamic views feature in MindGenius adds a lot of useful functionality with just a click of the mouse. Most mind mapping tools provide the standard map view and advanced tools provide a project planning Gantt chart view. MindGenius put a lot of thought into how people view and manage the same data differently by creating Resource, Categories, Priorities and Status views all within the same map file. In each of these different views, the user can assign resources, start dates, finish dates, due dates and percentage complete on the map.
Below is the classic Map view with the task management features activated.
In this map view, tasks can be added or updated and based on the task status and task finish dates, the map will color code for on-track or late tasks. By setting the Quick Filter for overdue tasks and hiding the non-matches, you can view the late tasks all within a map view for team follow up.
Now that resources are assigned in the Map view, it is easy to identify tasks by resource by using the Resource View.
The resource view is an easier view to allocate tasks to resources and swap resources by dragging the task card from one resource column to the other. This is a useful view to identify the tasks each person is currently working on as well as identify resources who need additional work.
The Category Map has always been a favorite map of mine since tagging each node with a category type allowed for quick map organization. MindGenius still has the create Category Map feature and the new Categories View provides quick access to the map categorization without creating a new map.
Within a mind map and our project work, prioritization plays an important role. If the team doesn’t know the relative priority from one project or task from another, it becomes difficult to effectively manage the team. The priority view solves that problem by identifying nodes with a high, medium, low or no priority. I found this map helpful when prioritizing a product backlog, prioritizing projects within the portfolio and even prioritizing weekly tasks.
For Agile teams looking to manage their sprint or for business teams simply tracking work, the Status view provides a much needed Kanban board. Tasks can be tracked across Not Started, In Progress, Completed Tasks, Waiting On Someone Else and Deferred. Compared to the traditional % complete tracking, the Status view provides a simpler view of task completion.
Another useful UI improvement is the introduction of the View bar in the upper right corner. Users can quickly switch between the Gantt chart and the map view to view task data. In MindGenius 6, I always have to navigate to the Gantt tab and then switch to the Gantt chart. MindGenius 2018 just makes this process easier.
Gantt Chart View Improvements
The Gantt Chart has also been improved by making it easier to add tasks directly into the Gantt chart view, add or remove project data columns and create baseline snapshots. Traditional project managers typically used Microsoft Project but the project management features in MindGenius provide useful task scheduling capabilities. I found the Gantt Chart feature to be useful when summarizing a brainstorming sessions with a high level timeline.
Adding in different project columns based on need is another useful enhancements to the Gantt chart view.
The new snapshot features allows the user to track up to 10 different baselines in the Gantt chart schedule. Projects often change dates and it is helpful to track against the original project baseline as well as any approved changes to the schedule.
The Gantt Chart can also be exported to Excel into an easy to read Excel enabled Gantt Chart. I also like the Project Report that graphically analyzes the mind map and provides a status summary report.
MindGenius updated their brainstorming Solution Finder tool to provide a guided brainstorming session. Custom question sets can be defined for a variety of project areas (scope, risk, issues, etc) and different ideas can be generated quickly. It is important to note each idea appears as it’s own card in the tool rather than an a node on the mind map. When people brainstorm ideas, it helps to think of them as free form ideas versus attached to a particular branch in a mind map.
After the brainstorming session, a mind map can be generated and mapped to each of the questions in the question set. By organizing the brainstorm session into a map, the ideas can be further groomed, improved and acted upon.
MindGenius 2018 Biggest Benefits
The biggest benefit I gained from using MindGenius 2018 is being able to quickly change different views and communicate to different people based on their perspective. Some team members only want to see their assigned tasks. Other stakeholders want a prioritized view of tasks or projects so they can change priorities.
I also liked the Status view which provides a Kanban capability as tasks progress from Not Started to Completed. Instead of estimating the percent complete on the task, the 0% or 100% model helped simplify project tracking. Another benefit was all these views were within the same map. I didn’t need to switch or update a different map to get a priority view, resource view or category view.
For project managers looking to manage small projects with a mind map, MindGenius provides a lot of the core features you’d find in more advanced tools like Microsoft Project. The resource usage, project cost roll ups and multiple project snapshots enable the project manager to fully manage a project within MindGenius.
How much does MindGenius 2018 cost?
MindGenius also updated its license model to include a subscription based model and a perpetual license model. A yearly subscription will cost $232 per license and includes any software updates. The perpetual license model is a one-time $392 cost with ongoing support and upgrades. If you are a current MindGenius user, you can upgrade from previous versions to the 2018 subscription model for $80.
Download your MindGenius 2018 trial and start mapping
You can download your free 14 day trial of MindGenius 2018 at https://www.mindgenius.com/
Want to learn more about applying mind mapping to project management?
Check out my free BiggerPlate presentation on Mind Mapping Across the Project Lifecycle