Importance of Diagrams in Planning
Planning is the Key to Any Successful Project
A high percentage of software project fail. Software and intangible and it's hard to see the end results until everything is done. Same can be said about a marketing campaign or a product design process. When the outcome is intangible planning becomes even more important.
A good plan is easily understood by all involved parties. it should be easy to breakdown a plan to smaller tasks and the responsibilities and timelines should be clear. Usually it's the top management that comes up with the plan, with some input from other team members. The hard part is communicating that plan to the rest of the members.
Calling a meeting and explaining the plan in 30 minutes to the team is a good start, but it's more important to get them involved in the process and clearly communicate each members or teams responsibilities. The article explains how diagrams can do just that.
Never underestimate the power of visualization. Most people will not bother going through a thousand word project proposal, but if the same information is presented as a summary using a mind map people are more likely to check it out.
People are attracted to images, which is why most social networks give more emphasis to images and actively encourage it's users to upload photos. Similarly a diagram is great for grabbing attention. Once you get the attention it's becomes easier to explain and keep people interested.
Diagrams makes it much easier to visualize and understand dependencies. For example lets take a look at the following Gantt chart.
You can clearly see that the task 2 is dependent on task 1. Imagine going through a project propose to find out that face. So clearly diagrams makes it much more easier to identify dependencies and makes you better understand your responsibilities.
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The difference between an image and a diagram is that there are certain standards to follow when drawing diagrams. But these standards are what makes them universally understood as well.
For example lets take a flowchart, probably the most widely used diagram type in the world. Although there are many other elements in a flowchart basically it consists of decisions, processes and arrows to show the flow direction. There are standard symbols to represent them - box for processes, diagram for decision - so a flowchart drawn by someone in China gives the same meaning to someone going through it at USA.
In a large project there could be people from all over the world and standard diagram makes it easy for them to understand them. This could be useful avoid language barriers as well it the situation demands it.
Collaboration Using Software
Another advantage with diagrams is the the collaboration ability provided by the diagram software. Probably the most popular diagram editor in the world is MS Visio, but you need Microsoft Sharepoint to achieve real-time collaboration. And Microsoft products come with a heavy price tag.
A better option is to use web based diagram software like Creately. If you're trying to collaborate using a flowchart you can use their flowchart software and templates. The reasons are simple. You don't need another software to achieve real-time collaboration and it's provided much better value for money.
There are Only Advantages
There is simply no downside to including diagrams in your project plans. The above mentioned points clearly highlights the importance of diagrams in planning. There are plenty of software available to draw diagrams at very affordable rates so it wont be a problem for anyone. So don't leave it late, start including diagrams right now in your plans.
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