Sunday, May 23, 2010

Generate writing ideas and organize your thoughts!

I recently took on a software project at work that will require extensive documentation and the occasional update. Right now the directions for installing, troubleshooting and administrating the software are all in my head or written on different scraps of paper. All of the customizations that I have done to suit our users are scribbled inside of a notebook. My dilemma is how to communicate all of these instructions to other members of my team and the process sequence they need to use to insure the software runs smoothly.
I stumbled upon this article about the mind mapping process on the ProBlogger website. I am a visual person, so all of these little bubble images caught my attention. I immediately knew this would be a great way to improve my blog and to work on some of my story ideas. The process of mind mapping allows you to take one idea or theme and by brainstorming you end up with many new ideas.

I downloaded trial versions of two different programs designed for mind mapping. While looking through some of the predesigned templates, I came across several for business use. I was thrilled to see how I could incorporate this idea into my software instructions. The various shapes can list the steps needed to be performed for a successful installation and a hyperlink can be added to each “bubble” if a technician needs further instructions. Once a technician has performed several installs and memorizes the instructions, they may just use the map for a refresher on the steps needed or for troubleshooting.

Another feature of both of the programs I tried, is the compatibility with the Iphone. Each developer offers a version on ITunes for use with the programs, making it easy for the technician to have the instructions right in their hands. Both offer excellent tutorials and help files.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trial usage but I am sorry to say I will not be investing in either program in the near future. The cost of a whiteboard and 6 dry erase markers does not even compare to the hefty price tags each program carries. Thankfully, the ProBlogger article “Discover Hundreds of Post Ideas for Your Blog with Mind Mapping”, suggests other methods of mind mapping. I am off to fill the wall above my desk with various colors of post it note ideas!

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