Management August 24, 2015 Last updated September 18th, 2018 528 Reads share

3 Simple Reasons You Need Visuals to Manage Projects

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One of the biggest challenges in managing projects is communication, whether it is a lack of communication, over communication or miscommunication. Communication challenges can be the deciding factor whether the project is a success or failure. Project Management Institute estimates that approximately 70% of projects fail each year due to a lack of proper requirements management. So how do project managers over communication challenges?

The communication challenges partially lie in how the project is tracked. Managing projects in a visual way can alleviate a lot of the barriers employees and managers face when working through a project. To successfully tackle the communication challenges, project managers have to find the best visual method to communicate the structure, resources and deadlines of their projects.

There are a lot of visual methods of tracking projects such as project management software, charts, diagrams, whiteboards, kanban boards and ultimately, management has to find the best method that will work the best with their team.

However, there are a number of reasons managers should choose a visual method.

Benefits of Visual Project Management

According to leankit.com, project managers must have visibility of the constantly moving parts of a project. This allows the project manager to provide updates and coordinator information in a way that keeps everyone on the same page the project status. Visualizing individual responsibilities allows the team to see their part as well as the project scope as a whole.

Sixty-five percent of the world has visual learners and there are many reasons to organize your projects visually so your employees are on the same page. From motivation, to the way your brain processes visual information, to the simplicity of using a visual tool, here are the reasons to use a visual method for project tracking.

#1. Motivation and Collaboration:

Gathering around a whiteboard increases productivity, creativity, motivation and collaboration, which essentially leads to better, well thought out ideas. When employees can see a color-coded update of their progress, they can see what to do next, see how they are doing relative to other members of the team and see who they need to coordinate with. Here are some other benefits of using a visual method for project tracking to motivate and collaborate:

  • Effectiveness of ownership of project tasks/status gives employees a sense of what’s going on in the office and allows employees and managers to identify and fix problem areas quickly.
  • People are more motivated to stay on task and have a better understanding of the project when they can see their progress visually and compare it to others on the team.
  • Visual management makes prioritization of the work much easier because you can see it in a single view
  • According to leankit.com, visuals help managers easily identify bottlenecks in productivity and reallocate resources accordingly, keeping timelines in place and maintaining project cost.

#2. Your Brain:

The way your brain processes concepts visually is much different than when it processes audio and when you learn using hands on methods. You actually use your whole brain and you are engaging in a higher number of cerebral points and nerve fibers when you process visual information. Here are the other ways your brain processes visual information better, making it the best way to manage projects:

  • When thinking visually, you are constantly combining and recombining things in unique ways
  • Pictures help thinking and make our brain more active
  • We make decisions faster thinking visually
  • Visual thinking helps communicating our decisions and visions
  • We receive up to 80% of the information we process by our visual senses
  • Creating visual notes allows a greater number of neural connections and the notes set longer in our memory. 

#3. Simplicity:

Managers must be able to get through the five phases of project management smoothly from the project conception and initiation stage, to the project launch to the project close and do so efficiently to prevent overload. It doesn’t have to be that complicated though. If everyone is on the same page with a visual representation of the project tasks, it makes the project go much more smoothly than trying to get status updates via project management software, emails or conference calls.

  • If there is one visual, it makes it easier for everyone because employees have a clear view of their expectations and managers don’t have to continuously update their employees on what they need to do.
  • A visual allows employees and managers to focus on the overall goals of the team, instead of individual employees getting caught up in their own tasks that end up hurting the project because they are irrelevant.
  • Effective visuals make endless amounts of complicated data more accessible, understandable and usable. This includes timelines, milestones and deadlines.
  • Maintaining a visual project “dashboard” can be an especially valuable vehicle for communicating in update meetings with senior management.
  • Project descriptions, goals, priorities, resources, tasks and timelines are much easier to communicate visually.

A project manager’s job is not easy, so it’s important that they find the proper method of tracking projects and overcome communication challenges. Simplicity is a key element to successful project tracking and information display. Your project tracking system must be easy to set up, easy to use, easy to see, easy to understand and easy to update or it will be a burden to the team. Something as simple as a magnetic whiteboard with color-coded magnets is a great way to display each task throughout the five stages of project management.

If the team isn’t on the same page and the project isn’t laid out and organized properly, chances are that the project will fail.

Organizing and communicating projects with a visual method caters to employees and managers strengths and communicates expectations to everyone on the team. Charts, diagrams, whiteboards and kanban boards increase collaboration and motivation among project management teams as well as provides a simplistic view of your project status. At the end of the day, project managers need a method of tracking their project that helps manage projects, training and people and considering a visual method could solve of their challenges.

Images: “Project Management Concept on the Mechanism of Metal Cogwheels./Shutterstock.com

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Victoria Burns

Victoria Burns

Victoria Burns is a Rochester, NY native and joined the Magnatag Visible Systems team right out of college. She is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Journalism. With extensive knowledge in Magnatag Visible Systems’ history, she knows the ins and outs of scheduling, communication, productivity, information display problems and works with customers every day to find Magnatag products that will make their jobs easier. Burns has an invested interest in journalism and been the editor of Magnatag Insight for two years.

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