New software doesn't often excite me. After all, software comes, gets upgraded and software goes - either because it becomes overburdened by "features" or gets rejected by the market. Or "new and improved" replacements may overtake it, or the rug gets pulled out from under because the supporting operating system is changed. Besides, software review is not my thing.
But in this case, I am taking the opportunity to test drive a new suite of project management relevant graphics programs to highlight three of my favorite topics:
- A new illustration of a systems model of project management
- My SCOPE-PAK brainstorming exercise designed to introduce to new comers the content and feel of project management, and
- A simplified mind map of the project management knowledge that an accomplished project manager really needs to know.
I suspect that the most common software used in today's projects is one of the many Email clients for exchanging Emails, and programs for text editing and number crunching for the exchange of words and numbers. Yes, of course, there are various project planning programs that ultimately communicate by pictures of bar charts, but these are typically sophisticated, highly structured, and require something like an advanced degree in computer programming to be able to manipulate successfully. The effort to produce effective plans and maintain them up to date often exceeds the value and usage of the graphics produced. And that probably accounts for why so many more scheduling programs are sold than are actually used.
That a "picture is worth a thousand words" is well known. So an easy-to-learn-and-deploy
graphics capability, especially across different computer platforms, would be
a godsend - not just for quickly creating Gantt charts, but idea maps, organization
charts, process charts and so on. Such a blessing may now be at hand, because
it appears that CS Odessa Corporation has produced a suite of three programs
that are ideal for just such creative diagramming.
These three programs are ConceptDraw PRO; ConceptDraw PROJECT; and ConceptDraw MINDMAP. Best of all, each of these applications are interlinked so they can exchange content with the others, and documents created on the MS Windows platform can be transferred to the Mac platform and vice versa. For its modest price, you get software for both platforms and, since the Mac is a much friendlier platform for graphics work, this makes it a software-of-choice for those like me who use both a Mac and a PC.
In the next three pages, I have used each program in turn to illustrate the three favorite topics that I mentioned earlier.