Visual Project Management [Book Review]

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If you recognise the title, it’s because I have recently read another book with exactly the same name as this: Visual Project Management by Mark J. Woeppel.

This Visual Project Management is different and 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.

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

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, e.g. SecondLife)
  • Project Gamification

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. 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 visualising 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.

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