Monday, January 10, 2011

Olympic Limited Releases OPTi-Docs for MindManager

As a long time MindManger User it is really exciting to see how 3rd party companies can expand the functionality of the program with add-ins. I have come to know Nigel Goult from Olympic Limited and over the years he and his company have developed some very innovative and unique add-ins for MindManager. I had a chance to catch up with Nigel last week and he shared with me some of his new development work that he just completed on Opti-Docs for MindManger.

Brian: Tell us about your company Olympic Limited?
Nigel: Olympic is a supplier of information management tools and a developer of value added solutions/content. We primarily focus on MindManager add-in development but are steadily working our way towards platform independent solutions and have just recently completed our first solution for PRINCE2 project management, OPTi-P2 for Windows. Our knowledge of MindManager spans almost ten years across three companies and we have been involved in add-in development since MindManager X5.

Brian; Tell us about Olympic  and the range of your products?
Nigel: One of our recent goals was to start to create a brand for Olympic and that has now become what we call our "OPTi-Range" of solutions. Currently the range includes:
•    OPTi-P2 for MindManager, a PRINCE2 Project Management Solution
•    OPTi-Q for MindManager, a Quality Management System based on ISO9000
•    OPTi-Suite for MindManager, a utility add-in that extends MindManager
•    OPTi-P2 for Windows, a platform independent PRINCE2 solution for Windows
•    OPTi-Docs for MindManager, our latest MindManager add-in to manage documents linked to MindManager maps.
All of our products are developed with simplicity in mind. We believe that day to day activities such as project management, document management etc do not have to be complex and often simple solutions provide the best results. That is always the key objective whenever we look at producing a solution for any given task.
 Brian: Please share with us how Opti-DOCS came about?
Nigel: OPTi-Docs came about through several discussions I had with a long time colleague who is also a Mindjet MindManager Value Added partner like Olympic. During several conversations the fact that one of the first things that new users of MindManager tend to do is attach documents or files of some type into their maps became very apparent. This quite common task/use had always been obvious to me but I had never looked beyond the basics of the process and suddenly it struck me that currently there is no real way to easily control documents of this nature unless you are using something like Sharepoint etc. We did some thinking about what basic qualities an add-in would require and after a few brainstorms OPTi-Docs was born.
Brian: What are the Key Features?
We decided that the add-in would require several key features to really deliver benefit and as a minimum decided that a simple check-in/check-out mechanism was definitely required as well as an easily accessible top level overview of document changes so users could quickly see what changes had taken place for each document.
The add-in creates a new MindManager Task Pane that displays the details of documents on selected topics and this makes it easy for users to see the current status of the selected document and its history etc.
Auto-revision was also key to the add-in as was the ability to easily  include past document revisions in the map for other users who perhaps did not have OPTi-Docs installed. Above all the add-in had to be simple. We wanted it to be very much a background process that simply just worked for the users and we think that the release offers a truly easy to use system that delivers a good level of control for locally linked MindManager documents.

Brian: Talk about the Value proposition
Nigel: MindManager is a great tool for organizing documents but when you want to apply controls it is cumbersome to have to open a linked document and then save it with a new name and then have to re-link to the new file. This takes time and most people tend to just edit the document and then overwrite the original meaning they lose document history and the ability to audit changes through iterative documents. Using OPTi-Docs automates this process and provides a simple document control system with a minimum of user interaction.
OPTi-Docs can also be used with almost ANY file type so it is not just "documents" that can be controlled but any file that is going through an iterative change process. Image files, audio files, zip archives, even software applications and installers can all be controlled with OPTi-Docs.

Brian: How do you envision that users of MindManager would use Opti-DOCS?
Nigel: The possible user base for OPTi-Docs is very large. It can be used by anyone who links files to their MindManager maps but some very specific examples of user types are:
•    Project Managers
•    Quality Practitioners
•    Solicitors
•    Lawyers
•    Librarians
•    Software Developers
•    Graphic Artists
•    CAD Librarians
•    Human Resource Managers
•    Technical Authors
The list could go on...and on.
We developed the add-in to be compatible with MindManager versions 6, 7, 8 and 9 so users of earlier versions can also take advantage of the benefits that OPTi-Docs can offer.

Brian: What are some of the unique features of OPTi-Docs?
Nigel: OPTi-Docs does not have what I would call "unique" features. Check-in/Check-out routines and auto version increments etc are not unique, however, we are not aware of another solution that specifically aids MindManager users with this task except of course for the much larger Sharepoint type scenario's.

Brian:What do you see as the benefits of users using Opti-DOCs?
Nigel: Users benefit by gaining a level of control of documents in their maps. As mentioned earlier, the add-in's simplicity and background automation help users achieve control with very little effort or involvement except where necessary. Quick visibility of document status and change history also helps users understand their documents progress and helps users identify the current status/stage a document is at in its lifecycle.

Brian: What are your customers saying?
OPTi-Docs has been very well received by our customers and has proved to be the second most popular add-in we offer. It has also aided users of of our other add-ins/solutions such as OPTi-P2 and OPT-Q, both solutions that have documentation attached to their main dashboards, by bringing document control to those solutions. In fact OPTi-Docs is now provided FREE to purchasers of OPTi-P2 and OPTi-Q to help users of those solutions get maximum value and benefit from them.

Brian: Are there plans for future developments for Opti-DOCS?
Nigel: OPTi-Docs is very much a product in what we call "fluid development" which means it is being improved as and when we come up with ideas or are presented with feedback from customers.
We are already working on several new features to be included in an update which will be available in Q1 of 2011. These will include roll back of revisions, an additional method of accessing document details and some maintenance options to help users manage the files that the add-in creates.

Brian: Nigel thanks so much spending the time talking about OPTi-Docs. and thank you and your company Olympic Limited for providing me with 3 licenses as part of an OPTI-Docs give away.  In order to be in the running for the free licenses I will need you to Tweet this statement. Read about how you can use OPTi-DOCS for MindManager to streamline your document management for the New Year!-

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