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The Ultimate Guide to Visual Project Management Software

Projects today no longer follow a linear path primarily because projects have become exceedingly data-rich (think: data related to labor estimates, capital costs, operational expenses, key performance metrics, task lists, cost-benefit analysis worksheets, risk profiles, and beyond).

The mere process of collating, analyzing, monitoring, and managing the diverse data touch-points throughout the project is emerging as a near-impossible task.

That’s not all.

Projects are becoming increasingly complex and demand agile turnovers, thanks to the advent of technology and rising customer expectations. Moreover, the inability to control external factors such as environmental effects, a hike in the cost of materials, workplace accidents, and so on negatively affects project performance and, by extension, project success.

In fact, one of the biggest pet peeves of project managers is the inability to manage the project pace, which often leads to project failure, according to recent research.

This is where visual project management software comes into play.

The importance of visuals in project management cannot be undermined. Here’s what science tells us:

  • According to a study by MIT, humans are wired to process the world better in the visual format. The study claims that the human mind can “identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds.”
  • Another study claims that visual learning offers better results than traditional learning systems.

Needless to say, even in the project management field, visual project management tools are becoming more commonplace (and understandably so).

So, What is Visual Project Management (VPM)?

According to PMI“Visual project management is a new practice concept that integrates visual thinking tools and data visualization methodologies with more traditional project communication, reporting, and facilitation practices.”

In other words, visual project management, or VPM as it is commonly known, is a type of ‘lean’ project management methodology. It empowers project managers to:

  • Achieve project tasks and milestones efficiently and effectively within the proposed timeline
  • Gain insights into key project deliverables and boost visibility
  • Engage in visual thinking and leverage tools
  • Improve the project performance and effectiveness
  • Remove potential threats and uncertainties
  • Plan, control, and complete projects using visual techniques and tools

The takeaway: The visual project management methodology enables project managers to leverage ‘visually-rich’ tools to improve project awareness and understand critical project data points and key performance metrics.

Top-4 Benefits of a Visual Project Planning Tool

The biggest benefit of visual planning software is that it empowers project managers to demonstrate complex ideas in a simplified and easy-to-understand format using diagrams and visual boards. This invariably helps save your team’s time and allows you to utilize your resources optimally.

A visual project management software also showcases key work processes clearly. In simpler words, this means that everyone understands their role and responsibilities in bringing the project vision and ideas to life.

Here are the 360-degree advantages of using a visual project management tool:

Increased Agility

A strategic visual project management tool empowers project managers to save time and allows the team to understand the project progress at a glance.

Biggest benefit: Say goodbye to convoluted and lengthy project briefs as well as updates. Visual project management allows the team to work with greater speed by gaining access to insights at the click of a button. Plus, the right tool can provide contextual information and offer actionable insights into the ‘entire story’ of the project performance.

Improved Convenience

The right tool can help team members communicate effectively by eliminating the need to send lengthy and time-consuming emails or conduct endless meetings. It also helps to make the information more ‘actionable,’ thanks to the intrinsic insights-driven approach.

Biggest benefit: Project managers can utilize the ‘saved time’ and use it for problem-solving other crippling issues that may be plaguing their projects.

Better Clarity

A visually-driven project management tool clearly demonstrates the task/project progress, empowering the team to identify the pain points and roadblocks quickly and make data-driven decisions.

Biggest benefit: It ensures quicker buy-in from key stakeholders and informed decision-making as everyone’s on the same page about the project status or progress.

Increased Transparency

A robust visual project management is one that can empower project managers with a bird’s eye view of the entire project. This increased transparency prevents chances of human error or misunderstandings.

Biggest benefit: The tool paves the way for improved collaboration, allowing team members to communicate effectively and improve project workflow.

The Top-3 Different Types of Visual Project Management Tools Available at Your Disposal

Project managers can take advantage of many types of visual project management tools, such as flowcharts, Kanban board, the Gantt chart project management software, timelines, and more. The type of tool and technique you choose will depend on the project you are dealing with.

Let’s look at the top-3 visual project management tools you can choose from:

Visual Project Management Tool Overview Pros Cons
1. Kanban boards
  • Illustrates a project at varying stages in the process.
  • Utilizes cards to showcase work tasks and columns to depict each stage, such as “to do,” “done,” etc.
  • Functions by managing and monitoring work-in-progress.
  • Ideal for monitoring a collection of smaller tasks.
  • Allows project managers to visualize where each task is in the process and pivot as needed to improve the workflow.
  • Mostly used by sales managers and software developers.
  • Easy to learn and implement.
  • Offers greater flexibility in terms of work style and execution.
  • Allows managers to pivot in real-time as it does not need a set timeframe to accomplish tasks.
  • It can become complex and convoluted if the number of tasks skyrockets.
  • The absence of a rigid timeframe can cause chaos and confusion.
2. Gantt chart software
  • A bar chart that visually demonstrates a project schedule, showcases when tasks occur, highlights when tasks are due, throws light on which team members are assigned to certain tasks, and the critical path.
  • Effectively illustrates overlapping deadlines and project task dependencies.
  • Involves first identifying essential tasks and then indicating task relationships.
  • Helps map out the project progress seamlessly and accurately.
  • A Gantt chart online tool is commonly used by engineering firms, political campaign managers, etc.
  • It is useful for project managers who wish to run numerous tasks that are all interdependent on one another to achieve an end goal.
  • Using a Gantt chart maker online is the way to go if you are dealing with complex projects with overlapping timelines.
  • Helps managers create reasonable timeframes.
  • Provides an accurate forecast of when the project will be complete.
  •  Allows teammates and project managers to view task dependencies, making project timelines more manageable and easy to monitor.
  • Gantt charts can be confusing and complex to understand.
  • It can become difficult to build without access to the right tool.
  • The interdependency of tasks, along with strict deadlines, makes it a somewhat inflexible tool.
3. Scrum board
  • Tracks work in sprints (about two to four weeks), which is the ideal length of time, allowing tasks to be completed quickly and helping teammates to focus on one or a small number of tasks at a time.
  • Helps achieve task completion on a fixed time scale.
  • Often facilitated by a scrum master.
  • The idea for a project that mandates product delivery as it allows the entire team to focus on the workload during a given timeframe
  • Mostly used by software companies, event planners, design firms, and the like
  • Helps increase team accountability.
  • Improves team focus and productivity as it requires teams to work in two-week sprints.
  • Offers a predefined process for reporting/ analyzing each sprint, allowing for continuous improvement.
  • It can become challenging to implement for beginners.
  • It is relatively less flexible as users cannot add tasks mid-sprint.
  • Requires team members to complete their tasks within two weeks.


To Wrap Up

Think of a visual project management tool as the superpower your team needs to:

  • Visualize key processes and workflows in real-time and monitor project progress or status on the fly
  • Understand the role every team member plays and how it affects each  other
  • Anticipate accurate and realistic timelines
  • Manage projects with greater ease and more fun
  • Drive data-informed decisions ‘in the moment’ instead of waiting for weekly reports to come in

Simply put, if you want to condense mountains’ worth of critical project information into a simple, aesthetic, and easy-to-digest visual format, you need to leverage the power of the right visual project management software. Pick the right tool for your team and see your team members succeed, one project at a time.

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