4 Ways That Visual PM Tools Help Design Teams Excel

Learn four ways that visual PM tools help design teams excel.

Zight | August 02, 2019 | 8 min read time

Article Last Updated: July 02, 2023

4 Ways That Visual PM Tools Help Design Teams Excel

Managing a remote or growing team has its challenges, but there’s some good news.

You can now help your team focus on its goals and optimize its efficiency without sending hundreds of emails or Slack messages to coordinate everyone.

All it takes it the right visual project management tool, which is the software that helps you organize your business tasks in a simple manner.

What is a Visual Project Management Tool?

You might have tried using charts or complex spreadsheets to keep your tasks organized. If you did, you surely noticed that things can get complicated fast. Simple processes, such as creating or adjusting task dependencies or setting up project milestones for each team member, can make you dread filling in the charts.

And the thing is, most projects, no matter how complex they are, can be divided into three large areas: tasks your team completed, tasks your team is currently working on, and tasks your team has yet to start.

A good visual project management (PM) tool can help you divide your projects into separate categories with minimal effort, assign tasks, and move the project from one step to another without wasting time.

How do Visual Project Management Tools work?

Did you know that more than 80 percent of the information your brain registers is visual? You write to lay down your thoughts, you draw to visualize your plans, and you take quick notes on napkin corners when you want to remember something.

Just like these examples, visualization can also help with project management. One of the reasons visual PM tools can help with task management is that anyone can tell what’s going on with the project in one glance.

Visual PM software simplifies your team’s workflow by creating a separate column for each step of the process. Every member of your team can understand what items should be prioritized and who should be working on what without being overloaded with information.

The good thing about having a shared, common view of all the work you and your teammates need to do is that it eliminates guesswork. You can actually see who is having a difficult time finishing a task, and you can optimize the process to avoid bottlenecks and roadblocks.

With the help of visual project management software, you can gain a better understanding of your team’s work capacity, and you can move work through the process without flooding your team members’ queues. This enables your team to focus on the task at hand.

And the best thing is, each column you create can be personalized. You can add information for all your team members to see, link to resources, create checklists to help individual team members prioritize their tasks, and add due dates to keep projects on their intended workflow.


Benefits of Visual PM Tools for Design Teams

At this point, you might be wondering how visual project management tools benefit design teams specifically. Let’s take a look.

1. Speed

The most important benefit of visual PM tools is speed. The project management board can produce, replicate, and relay critical project information in a more effective and efficient way.

· Plan, execute, monitor, and control a project in a single glance.

· Visualizing the project improves its clarity and its operational plan.

· It ensures that you can prioritize, plan, and allocate resources in real-time.

· And delivers the information in a simple way, so every team member can consume it at a time and place that’s most convenient for them.

2. Improved collaboration

Design teams need to collaborate well if they want to deliver quality projects. Communication is an important asset for every team, but it should really be the focus when team members are not co-located.

Remote teams are only successful when all the teammates know what they’re supposed to do, and when they’re supposed to do it. Visual PM software gives managers, developers, and designers the possibility to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities clearly, as well as hand off projects with ease.

3. Clarity

Clarity is an important detail for every team, and it’s a critical aspect for every remote team trying to reach a common vision of what it’s trying to achieve. Every team member should be able to understand the plan and see how they’re contributing to the bigger picture.

Project management software helps spread the vision of success across team boundaries, so every group has a clear view of what it should do in relation to the company’s goals..

Having clearly assigned tasks allows each team to focus on its work without wasting time remembering the details. Or worse, keeping track of them in spreadsheets. In addition, as a task is completed, it is reviewed, optimized and tested, so the final product has a superior quality.

Further, each design team has its own language. Designers use different abbreviations and phrases than developers or project managers. Visual PM tools align cross-functional teams around a shared goal using a common language that’s clear for everyone involved.

4. Helps visual thinkers

Another benefit of using visual PM tools as a design team? It’s a familiar way of thinking.

Most designers are visual thinkers, so it’s easy for them to do so when it comes to project management.

Designing is about solving problems, creating clarity, and connecting the content with people. Visual thinkers know how to convey complex messages through their designs, so the viewer gets a clear view of what they’re seeing. This is similar to how PM tools work.

It’s advantageous to take this approach, even for more analytical or non-creative teams.

Thinking and working visually is:

· Engaging – The human brain is more engaged when looking at visual communications than when reading something. That’s why you sometimes have that “Aha!” moment after seeing a picture.

· Stickier – You remember visual content longer than written versions. According to a study published in 2000, the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is definitely true.

· Inclusive – Remote teams often rely on professionals from a wide array of countries, with different native languages. Using visual content breaks down communication barriers that might make reading big chunks of text a challenge.

· Beneficial for your health – That’s right. Thinking visually lowers your cortisol levels, no matter how skilled you are.

Visual project management tools help visual thinkers by playing to their strengths. The software enables you to break down the design process into steps that are easy to follow and understand. The information is easy to access, and every member of your team will know what to do next.


Examples of PM Tools that have Visual Components

1. Kanban

Kanban is one of the most popular frameworks used for visual project management. Kanban boards allow you to visually manage your team’s tasks.

You’re probably familiar with the visual management principles behind Kanban boards, even if you don’t know it. If you ever used sticky notes to remind yourself about something you should do, or if you used memory cards to learn something, you’ve used the same principles that Kanban does.

Kanban boards allow you to visualize your team’s tasks, create visual connections between them, and optimize workflows. Their versatility makes it easy for team members to move seamlessly from one project to another or to move projects from one team to another.
Despite its apparent simplicity, using Kanban has many advantages:

· Encourages continuous improvement – With the help of Kanban, you can easily review your team’s progress and make improvements as you go. You can cut waste, streamline workflows, and reduce overhead.

· Responsiveness – Using Kanban allows you to respond to your company’s needs in real-time. You need to deliver a product faster than expected? No problem, you can simply assign more designers to work on it.

· Eliminates distractions – The Kanban board encourages your team to work together to cross the finish line. Every task is represented as a card on the board, so all the team members working on it know what to focus on.

· Empowers team members – One of the great things about Kanban is that it provides a clear overview of what it takes to complete a project. Every team member learns how their work helps the entire project move forward, and can see all project details in one place.

2. Agile Project Management

Agile project management is an iterative approach to guiding your projects to success. Rather than planning, focusing, and working on an entire project, those who use an Agile approach complete it in small sections.

Each project section is called an “iteration.” As the team working on an iteration completes its tasks, the project team reviews and critiques the work. This helps the company gain insights on how to approach the next section of the project. It is, quite literally, an agile approach to project management.

The main benefit of using an Agile project management framework like SCRUM is that you can assess your team’s progress and react to any issues that might arise in real-time. Using weekly sprints to assign projects helps you react quickly and make any necessary changes to save resources, keep the project on time, and respect a project’s budget.
Agile project management is useful because:

· It encourages efficiency – In an Agile project, each team member plays a specific role, so every individual can focus on a single task instead of the entire project.

· It’s predictable – As your team works collectively to move the project forward, the project’s tasks fall into regular cycles of production. This allows you to determine your team’s work capacity with accuracy, and it can help you predict when your team will complete the project.

· It ensures quality – When you use an Agile approach, the testing is done during the developing cycle. Each feature of the final product is tested repeatedly before launch, ensuring its high quality.

Why Design Teams should use Visual Project Management Tools

Visual PM tools help design teams finish their projects on time and within budget. The visual elements of these tools are tailored to meet the needs of visual thinkers, encouraging interdisciplinary teams to communicate and collaborate well.

Using project management software enables you to allocate your company’s resources where they’re most needed and to review your team’s progress in a single glance. Thanks to the clear overview they offer, you can easily avoid bottlenecks and blockages in a project. This can help your design team take on large projects and complete them successfully.

Dave Nevogt is the co-founder and CEO of Hubstaff. The 100% remote team builds time tracking software for growing organizations, along with Hubstaff Tasks, the Agile project management tool.

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