The problem with project management software is that the average user can't readily discern what is happening with any given project.
The fact that most users of project management software have to be trained to effectively use it readily explains why most people don't end up using it at all. Instead, the vast majority of people will fall back on a spreadsheet, database or even presentation software.
But none of those applications readily lend themselves to project management. The good news is that project management is about to get a significant boost from Mindjet, which today is launching version 9 of its MindManager. Mindjet has a long history of adding a visual overlay to PC applications that were not designed with the average person in mind. This new version, says Neil Mendelson, vice president of product managment, applies that appreciation for visualization to project management.
A visual approach to project management is long overdue. Given the fact that just about everybody has a project to manage somewhere, no further indictment of the state of project management software is required other than the fact that nine out 10 people that have a project to manage don't use it. MindManager is designed to manage projects the way people naturally think. By visually linking elements of a project together, users can create a timeline to manage their project and then share that information in a way other people can readily understand.
And best of all for the project management wonks in the company, Mindjet can export a project management file in the form of a Gantt chart. That means average people can manage a project and then share that information with the project management application that has been adopted as the corporate standard by people who have been specifically trained in the mysterious ways of the formal project management priesthood.
Software in general was designed to manage data, rather than information, and that is a problem. The good news is that advances in how to visually manage data are being made every day; they're just not necessarily being made by the people who design the software that is used most used in the enterprise today.