In what may feel like the longest year ever, 2020 is finally coming to a close.
If you are looking ahead to 2021, brainstorming and project planning tools are some of the best ways to visualize ideas and organize information as you look to the future and decide what new projects to tackle and problems to solve.
To help you get started, we've compiled the best brainstorming and planning tools to empower you to bring your projects to life and follow them through to completion for (a hopefully brighter) 2021.
What is an idea map?
An idea map is a visual tool for organizing information by hierarchically grouping related ideas and concepts in a way that shows relationships.
What are the benefits of using an idea map?
Idea maps provide benefits like:
- Organizing and conveying complex information
- Connecting related ideas visually
- Increasing retention of ideas
- Enhancing collaboration and communication among team members
How to create an idea map
To create an idea map, follow these steps:
- Determine the purpose of your idea map
- Start with the main concept or topic to be explored in the center
- Add affinities of related subtopics to the main topic
- Continue branching off each subtopic affinity with child affinities that include more specific details
- Optional: Color the text, outline or fill of affinities to further visually categorize or group ideas
It can be hard to know where to start when creating an idea map, but using idea mapping software like Minitab Workspace can help make the process much easier. With built-in templates, a brainstorming list, the ability to easily drag-and-drop nodes and affinities to reorganize on the fly, the option to prioritize nodes and the capability to quickly export and share with others, Minitab Workspace could be a game changer for any of your future brainstorming sessions.
Brainstorming doesn't just start and end with idea maps; additionally we suggest using a Fishbone Diagram. Known as a Cause-and-Effect or Ishikawa Diagram, this tool helps the user brainstorm and identify the potential sources for an outcome (both desired and undesired).
What is a Gantt chart?
A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart that visually illustrates a project's schedule and progress.
In a Gantt chart, each task in a project is represented by a horizontal bar that gets filled in as the task is completed. Along the horizontal axis is a timeline. When combined, the Gantt chart allows you to quickly see which tasks need to be completed sooner vs. later, and how work is progressing on those tasks.
What are the benefits of using a Gantt chart?
Gantt charts provide benefits like:
- A more organized overview of your project
- Enhanced communication among team members and project managers
- Communication of high-level plans and status updates to executives and stakeholders
- Ability to track progress, update and view project checkpoints
How to create a Gantt chart
There are several key components in a Gantt chart, including:
- When the project started
- What tasks are included in a project
- What important milestones or deadlines to be mindful of in a project
- Who has been assigned to work on each individual task
- When each task should start
- How long each task should take to complete
- When the project will end
Putting a Gantt chart together can be overwhelming depending on the project size, number of team members and deadlines. Creating a Gantt chart in Minitab Workspace, however is easy and ensures you're able to make any updates needed, add details and export your Gantt chart for maximum sharing and team collaboration.
For more information, check out our blog: The Ultimate Guide to Gantt Charts.
Planning doesn't just start and end with Gantt charts. We also recommend using:
- 30-60-90 Action Plan: This tool helps identify intentions and a course of action over a period of 30, 60 and 90 days.
- Project Prioritization Matrix: This tool assists with evaluating and prioritizing potential projects using set criteria, so you can choose the best projects to work on first.
- RACI Chart: This tool is used to understand roles for project deliverables and articulate who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed throughout.
Planning Ahead with Minitab
Searching for simple solutions to achieve the greatest impact with your work and provide business value? Minitab Workspace enables you to move work forward with powerful visual tools, process maps, brainstorming diagrams and forms all in one intuitive interface right at your fingertips. Our tools help form processes and identify opportunities, ultimately making problems easier to solve.
Elevate your work with the ultimate toolkit to clearly visualize, optimize and map your business value better than ever before. Start your free trial or connect with us today to discover Minitab Workspace.