Late last week, I downloaded a copy of MindManager for SharePoint to install on my laptop for my new job. That resulted in a follow-up phone call by Mindjet SME sales representative Mike Blandford, who did a great job of shedding more light on this new product and what major problem it solves in corporate environments. Here’s a summary of what we discussed:
As I alluded to in my last post about MindManager for SharePoint, I’m not a fan of Microsoft’s network collaboration tool. At my old job, SharePoint was used by the department in which I worked (marketing) to keep track of dozens of complex projects, each of which had multiple resources, milestones and people associated with them. The folder hierarchy was so deep that it was often hard to find the folder I needed.
What I didn’t know was whether my experience with SharePoint was typical, or if I’m just a weirdo SharePoint hater.
Turns out that I have plenty of company, according to Blandford. He said that many of the Mindjet customers he has talked to share a similar experience: These firms typically implement SharePoint because they want their employees to collaborate better, and to provide a common place where all team members can post project updates. Then they become dismayed when no one uses it. It’s just too hard to find specific folders and resources. To make matters worse, SharePoint’s search capability is only rudimentary. he said Microsoft’s SharePoint discussion lists are filled with a lot of talk about how to improve SharePoint search, but not much has been done so far to address this shortcoming by the gigantic Redmond-based software developer.
In addition, in most companies, the corporate IT department usually gets to decide what the folder hierarchy is when they install the SharePoint Server. This arrangement may be somewhat arbitrary and idiosyncratic, making resources even harder to find. Blandford shared the story of one person he talked to who spent an average of 30 minutes a day – or the equivalent of 150 hours a year! (assuming 30 min./day x 300 work days/year) – searching for specific projects and pages on her company’s SharePoint databases.
How does MindManager for SharePoint solve this problem? By providing a powerful SharePoint search tool that enables you to simultaneously search several SharePoint databases and incorporate multiple filtering criteria into your query. This enables you to find what you’re looking for, faster. In other words, Mindjet has built the search tool that should have been native to SharePoint.
I mentioned to Blandford that perhaps this “corporate” version of MindManager may make it more palatable to IT departments, which control what software can be installed on the desktops of knowledge workers around the world. If they don’t “get” the value of mind mapping, then typically they don’t invest in mind mapping software. He agreed, and said that MindManager for SharePoint should actually make IT’s job easier. If you can empower employees to find the SharePoint resources they need on their own, then IT should receive fewer calls from frustrated employees, complaining, “I can’t find what I’m looking for on SharePoint!”