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SharePoint is a good productivity tool, but it has its disadvantages. Partners, like Mindjet make it their business to resolve those disadvantages through integrated tools like MindManager for SharePoint.

Another Way to Look at Information

Mindjet is a provider of information visualization tools, the most well known one being their MindManager solution. MindManager is a tool that lets you see, in graphical format, all the information you are working in. It's a high level view with the ability to dig down into details where required.

CMSWire spoke with Felicity Wohltman, VP of Product Development and Michael Deutch, Director of Product Development for Mindjet to get a bird's eye view of this new SharePoint tool and how it can resolve some of SharePoint's shortcomings.

Resolving SharePoint Shortcomings

What exactly is Mindjet trying to help with here? One of the primary uses of SharePoint is to manage documents and lists of information. This information can be related to projects, departments or other group -- or individually -- focused work.

Often a user works within many different projects or team sites at the same time. But to get to the information they need to do their jobs, they have to go to different areas -- team sites, document libraries, lists -- and often need to click around a lot. When they do this, they are loosing focus of where they are in relation to other work they are doing.

Mindjet is attempting to resolve this issue with MindManager for SharePoint. They are providing SharePoint users with a big picture view of the work they are doing, while retaining the ability to manage the details.

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MindManager for SharePoint - MyDashboard
 

Oh the Things You Can Do

Now it looks pretty interesting doesn't it? You get the functionality of SharePoint through a MindManager view that lets you see all your information in a visual format. You can then dig down into the details of your work, while still retaining that larger, overarching view.

Click on a specific piece of information in your mindmap and you can immediately update SharePoint via a built-in browser view. MindManager for SharePoint respects both SharePoint workflow and permissions, so you never get access to information you aren't allowed to see.

There are a few ways you can map your SharePoint information:

  • View everything in a SharePoint team site or set of lists
  • View all information assigned to you -- tasks, documents, etc...
  • View all information assigned to your team members -- a manager feature

You also aren't limited to the default view of your information. You can sort, filter and update information that includes documents, list items like tasks and issues, calendar items, images and more. Included is the ability to add your own personal notes and comments to each piece of information. This information isn't added to SharePoint, but is retained in the mind map -- kind of like your own notebook or to-do list notes.

It's also not a one time view of your information -- it is automatically refreshed so you can be sure you always have the most update to date view.

SiteMaps and Searching

A couple of other features of MindManager for SharePoint are sitemaps and search. MindManager provides the ability to create a sitemap, showing you a real-time visualization of everything in your SharePoint environment, including the details.

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MindManager For SharePoint - SiteMap
 

You can also search for content in SharePoint using keywords. The search can work across all SharePoint sites, providing a map of the results within MindManager.

And of course Outlook and Office integration comes with MindManager for SharePoint. Create project plans for Project 2007, export your work to MS Word or create PowerPoint presentations.

Hosted, Offline, Multi-Environment

MindManager for SharePoint works with any SharePoint 2007 implementation - whether it's on-premise or hosted. Which means you can use it for SharePoint Online. As long as you have the security rights to connect, you can access your SharePoint environment.

You can also work offline with your mindmap, keeping your view of information, making any notes/comments to the mindmap for your own personal use. When you come back online, you can resync with the most updated view of the information and make any changes you need to.

Keep in mind that there is no auto-sync, so you can't make changes to SharePoint information offline, just view it.

And there is a really nice feature for those of you who may work within more than one SharePoint environment -- maybe your project team site for an internally project and a partner team site inside an extranet environment. You aren't limited to creating a mind map for each SharePoint environment, you can mix them all into a single view.

Business Application Visualizations

Mindjet is seeing a whole new way to use their tools via business applications. Mind map can be useful in a variety of business applications, letting you view your information in a different way. MindMap for SharePoint is Mindjet's first implementation, but not their last.

MindManager for SharePoint is currently a desktop application that connects to SharePoint 2007 using Microsoft's WSS (Windows SharePoint Services) API via web services. But this is only the first SharePoint product. They are also planning a web-based version that will work within SharePoint. Something to look forward to.

MindManager for SharePoint is available today for US$ 499 in English, German and French. There is a trial version available and some tutorials online that you help you understand how to use it.

If you are looking to increase your productivity without sacrificing your collaboration capabilities, take a closer look.