Mindjet Connect

Today's high-end management tools, like Basecamp and LiquidPlanner, give organizations a veritable subatomic view of their inner workings. But, the project 'forest' can easily get lost amid the task 'trees.' Many firms find the oh-so-critical big picture is overwhelmed by an endlessly growing thicket of task lists and work flows.

Today, San Francisco-based software firm Mindjet is hoping to solve that pain point with a unique approach to task visualization. Mindjet last week announced a new Web-based collaboration tool called Mindjet Connect, which helps teams both organize and visualize their projects by creating a literal map of tasks to complete.

Teams and project managers should be able to create visual outlines for what needs to get done and then work from those diagrams to complete projects, says Chief Products Officer Blaine Mathieu.

What it is: Mindjet has been making mind-mapping software for businesses since it was founded. The company's MindManager program is basically a digital brainstorming tool that lets users create and collaborate on "mind maps." That is, visual diagrams that can define problems, plan projects and outline solutions. Mindjet Connect, which will debut in part on Thursday, aims to turn the MindManager system into a full online work management system. The intent is to let managers and employees implement their visualized projects and follow the progress on them to completion.

The basic Mindjet Connect Web tool will be free, with a more fully featured business version starting at $15 per month, per user. Mindjet will also begin making its iPhone and iPad MindManager apps free as well starting Thursday and both will be compatible with Mindjet Connect.

Why you might like it: Mindjet Connect's great strength is that complex business ideas are easily broken down into executable project plans. The brainstorming phase -- that is, figuring out what needs to be done -- is married directly to the execution phase, which calls for making a hard list of tasks. The two-in-one approach cuts out the need for exporting those original plans and ideas to another tool. And overall, we were impressed with how Mindjet created an easy-to-act-on task list.

Why you might not like it: Though the company believes its visualization strategy is actually closer to the way people think, the fact is working from a Mindjet map takes some real getting used to. And the service's document storage and sharing functions are not up to the standard of say, a Google Apps or Zoho. For true team document collaboration, you will need to go elsewhere.

Bottom line: By all means, if your business is like ours and it is drowning in a sea of Web-based tasks, Mindjet Connect can be a refreshing change. And it offers a compelling way to solve problems.

Just keep in mind, someone in your shop will almost certainly mind learning Mindjet.
 
How are you able to keep track of projects? Let us know how your current system is working in the comments section.