News and thoughts from CS Odessa, maker of the ConceptDraw product line: ConceptDraw PRO, ConceptDraw PROJECT and ConceptDraw MINDMAP.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Article written by Julia Fedorenko, Head of Marketing at CS Odessa

ConceptDraw Office allows you to easily apply Agile project management techniques to real projects. The unique toolset in ConceptDraw Office makes it easy to combine project management techniques with complete information visualization in a single software toolset. Every project management methodology is unique in what is required to implement and all projects must be adapted to fit within the methodology used by your organization. Looking at the project through the Agile Modeling lens it is important to remember the following crucial ideas:

• The use of User Story mapping helps Agile teams create a clear model that reflects user requirements in the context of the project.

• UML diagramming defines project direction without dictating how you do it.

• Effective communication facilitates the successful management of a project’s allocation of time and resources.

An Agile Model User Story is a very high-level definition of user requirements so that the development team can better estimate the effort required to implement the described functionality.The basic components of a User Story are often defined as the three C’s (Card, Conversation & Confirmation). The Card is a written identification of what is being built, the Conversation contains recorded notes, mockups, drawings, and documents exchanged with the end users, and the Confirmation is a description of acceptance test criteria, the User Wish. ConceptDraw MINDMAP is a great tool to build and explore the User Wish and then to share with the project team. Using a mind map is an effective way to capture a user’s requirement in a visual format that is easy to read and to work from.

With ConceptDraw PRO, you can visually represent project progress using Unified Modeling Language (UML) case diagrams and class diagram, generated from information contained in the User Wish exploration mind map. ConceptDraw can be used at two stages; the User Wish Exploration stage and the Requirements Modeling stage. By using MINDMAP during the first or the User Wish Exploration stage, you can capture and share ideas and keywords at a high level view.

When using UML during the second Requirements Modeling stage you are able to model domain objects and use cases from the keywords gathered from the User Wish exploration mind map.Our project management tool ConceptDraw PROJECT is a powerful application that allows you to effortlessly manage and communicate project status between project team participants. The entire process is very easy to incorporate into your workflow processes. ConceptDraw PROJECT enables you to keep project files current as team members read, contribute, and complete their tasks. By using ConceptDraw PROJECT and ConceptDraw MINDMAP, the tasks of communicating and exchanging data to individuals or the entire project team in a convenient mind map format keeps everyone informed.Discover more about Agile Modeling using ConceptDraw Office and the best of class products included in ConceptDraw Office

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Strategic Accomplishment Mapping with ConceptDraw MINDMAP

Business is all about moving ahead; in one word it is all about ACCOMPLISHMENT.

To accomplish something, is to bring about a desired result with effort. Completion. Accomplishment comes in many forms. I like to break accomplishment down into tactical and strategic accomplishment.

To be tactical is mostly viewed as relating to small-scale actions serving a larger purpose, while being strategic is more focused on the integrated whole or planned effect. A good friend of mine who is a wiz in public relations once described the amount of interest she was able to generate for her company by using a tactical strategy. She understood the market dynamics well and was utilizing such knowledge to bring attention to her company.

Of course tactics are just as critical to any company as strategy. The difference is the potential leverage you can take advantage of with strategy. Tactics is most similar to using a sledge hammer to tear down a brick building where as strategy is most similar to using a wrecking ball to break down the wall barriers. Strategy also comes in different formats and with different levels of impact. The one given is that attaining strategy attainment is critical to businesses of any type or size.

I have built a sample Strategic Accomplishment Map (SAM) using ConceptDraw MINDMAP that can be downloaded from MindMapPedia.

With this map being used as a template your strategy is visible at all times, this enables you to focus more accomplishing your goals. All company strategic plans must be broken down to department, group and individual levels; if this is not done the company’s strategy may never be realized.

“If the building blocks are clearly defined, the essence of even the most complex strategy can be expressed on one page.” ------------- An excerpt from the book, Execution. The Discipline of Getting Things Done.

My own version of this quote would be

“If the building blocks are clearly defined, the essence of even the most complex strategy can be expressed on ONE MIND MAP. “

What Is Mapping Strategy Implementation?

I find that tactics are easy to identify and measure, but many times strategy after the initial planning can be elusive in its implementation. Strategy implementation is the inventory of all of the activities and resources that need to be identified and organized so that a strategic plan can be put into practice. Implementation always follows strategy formulation, and I find mind maps to be an excellent way to keep the strategy in view and at the same time be focused on the right implementation plan to accomplish the strategic objectives.

Works Cited

Bossidy, Larry, Ram Charan, and Charles Burck. Execution The Discipline of Getting Things Done. New York: Crown Business, 2002.

Hunger, J. David, and Tom Wheelen. Essentials of Strategic Management (4th Edition). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2006.