Visual Project Management by Paul R. Williams, PMP. It’s quite a light book. Williams has put together all the different ways you can bring a visual element to your project communication and reporting. “Seeing is not only believing…seeing is understanding,” he writes.

He has split the graphical and visual tools available to you into three categories. They are all things you would consider to be project management artifacts. As a project manager, you’d create them during the project (or they would be created as part of the project).

I’m keen on communicating visually because it helps get the message across.

Here are the 3 categories of visual tools you can use on your projects, according to Williams.

Category #1. Visual Thinking Tools that Support Project Management

  • Mind Mapping
  • Process Mapping
  • Storyboarding
  • Root Cause Analysis
  • Charting, Diagramming and Graphing
  • Drawing and Sketching
  • Wireframes
  • Use Cases and user stories

Category #2. Visual Project Reporting Tools

  • Earned Value Analysis
  • Dashboards
  • Road Maps
  • Lean Concepts – Kanban
  • Agile Concepts – Scrum
  • Infographics

Category #3. Visual Project Collaboration Tools

  • Project War Room
  • Project Science Fair (this is like an education event where a big company can host a fair with a stand for each project so employees can find out about the company’s initiatives)
  • Project Display Wall (for when you don’t have space for a war room)
  • Project Flight Status Board (i.e. table that shows which project is in which life cycle phase, colour coded to show status)
  • Project Social Media (e.g. collaboration tools)
  • 3D Project Environments (real, e.g. 3D printing and virtual worlds, e.g. SecondLife – is that still around?)
  • Project Gamification

If you want to get started, I’ve written about 5 ways to use visual communication on projects so you can get some easy ideas from there.

Visual Project Management book reviewThe rest of the review

I’m aware that this review is starting to read more like a Table of Contents than an actual review but I can’t think of much to say. The book lists the tools and then describes what they are. It’s a handbook-style read that helps you understand the different types of data visualizations in project management.

The concept of increasing the team’s understanding through pictures is a good one, especially when the data is complex.

There are lots of examples and screenshots to explain the tools. Each section ends with further resources/reading and references. There is a good explanation of Earned Value and useful advice on dashboards.

It’s good in that it collates all the ways of working with visuals specific to project management. I tried to think of anything the author might have left out and could only come up with visual recording for meetings, but you could argue that isn’t really a project management specific tool (but neither are dashboards, to be fair).

I’d say that this would help new and student project managers but I felt myself going, “OK, I could display errors during testing as a graph.” It’s not rocket science.

Having said that, I am not aware of any other book that sets out the tools for visualizing project concepts so clearly or comprehensively. If you are looking for a better way to present your complex data, you’ll find plenty of ideas in here.

This article first appeared at Rebel’s Guide to Project Management

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