Sunday, March 21, 2010

MindGenius 3.5 -Gantt View

Last week I downloaded MindGenius 3.5 which added support for Gantt Charts right within the application. I have had the chance to develop some Gantt Charts using MindGenius and wanted to share my ideas about this new feature with you. Overall, you will find the implementation of Gantt Charts in MindGenius 3.5 to be easy and straight forward to use. Most of us who have been following the mind mapping arena have seen that almost all of the major applications have moved to including Gantt Charts as part of their solution. Mind mapping applications are a great tool for brainstorming and sharing information about new projects that are coming on-board. The visualization of the project makes it easy for everyone involved to see the project from another perspective by literally putting everyone on the same page. Likewise, mind mapping applications like MindGenius 3.5 makes it easy for the team, when you are ready to develop the Work Breakdown Structure.

In MindGenius you would build your project in the mind mapping view and then click on the Tasks Tab on the Ribbon to access the features associated with the Gantt Chart. You will find it easy to assign Start, End, and Due Dates for each task in your mind map by selecting them from the Calendar. You can also record what percentage of the task is complete, the priority for the task as well as the status for each of the tasks. You can also record the duration of the work completed and estimates for the how long the task will take to complete. If you intend to use your mind map to track your costs you can include a Cost and Quantity for each item in your mind map. If you decide to include the Cost and Quantity in your mind map you can then export and generate reports in Excel. Once you have entered Start and End dates and the other information you can view your Gantt Chart by clicking on the Gantt View Button from the Tasks Ribbon.

MindGenius displays a very traditional Gantt Chart with with your tasks listed down the left side of the page. If a task has multiple items associated with it, MindGenius treats the higher level task as a Summary Level task and each item under that a child task. Tasks and subtasks can be linked using the Linking tool that is provided. As far as I can tell MindGenius 3.5 only supports Finish to Start Dependencies and does not allow for lag time. The Gantt Chart is MindGenius 3.5 clearly shows what percentage of the task is complete and can be manually changed by the user as they update the progress of the project. I would have like to be able to change the color of the bars in my Gantt view but I did not see this as an option. Assigning resources to a task is rather easy in MindGenius 3.5 you simply select the person from the Resources pane. One of the strengths MindGenius 3.5 is the ability to quickly generate a Resource map by Tasks with a click of the mouse. This helps to quickly visualize who has which task assigned to them and the responsibility for the completion of the task.

Probably one of the most powerful features that is found in MindGenius 3.5 is the ability to filter the information in the Gantt Chart. There are some Quick Filters that let you quickly see the status of your project when you select one of the filters. If you find that the Quick Filter does not meet your needs you can open up the Filter panel and begin to customize it for your needs. There is also a Filter Builder for building more sophisticated filters if you need it.

All in all, if you have MindGeniu3 you should download the free upgrade to MindGenius 3.5 and begin to explore the Gantt View. For small projects MindGenius 3.5 could be just what you need to keep tabs on your projects. If you need to, you can quickly generate reports from within Excel or export you projects to Microsoft Project. Having access to the Gantt View is certainly a welcome addition to MindGenius 3.5 and one that users will find considerable value in using.

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