Internal control is the process an organisation follows to provide reasonable assurance of the reliability of its financial reporting, its operational effectiveness and efficiency and its overall compliance with laws and regulations. 

Taking its particular circumstances into account, the first step for an organisation is to define its ‘control environment’ – what are its values and ethics; what are its policies and practices; its management culture; organisational structure; the involvement of the Board and audit.

Using these as guide, the overall control objectives can be defined – taking into account the need to balance the need for control with efficiency.  A risk assessment provides further focus, identifying those risks the organisation wishes to reduce and is willing to devote resources to reducing.  This will identify the key business processes where controls are to be applied or assessed.

Internal controls follow two main strategies – preventive or detective.  The first attempts to prevent errors arising at all whilst the latter attempts to identify errors for correction “after the fact”.  Information systems (or applications) are integral to implementing an effective internal control environment as they provide many features for real time prevention and for logging and reporting of exceptions, rejections and reconciliation.  Mapping the controls onto business process maps and other documentation is also key and helps training and performance review.

The controls in place (or desired, if yet to be implemented) can be documented quite simply – process by process.  Such a list provides the checklist for a review of the health or maturity of the internal control regime in the organisation.

Defining and Assessing Internal Controls

Assessment of the control regime first identifies the critical processes and confirms the associated internal controls.  Each control is reviewed and any issues logged.  The risks indicated with each issue are be assessed and a decision taken on the response to the risk.  An action list will result which can form the delivery plan for the next phase of implementation of the control regime.

This summary is taken from a quick survey of what is available on the subject on the Internet.  It aims to pull out the key ideas of what is involved in defining internal controls.  Ideas such as reporting and monitoring – how do management know that the controls are working – also need to be considered in conjunction with this summary.

Free download. MindView Mind Mapping Software. The visual summary (above) was prepared using MindView and the full MindView map may be downloaded as a zip file by clicking the link: Defining and Assessing Internal Controls and saving the file.

 

 

A MindManager version of the map may be downloaded from either Biggerplate or Maps for That.

 

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Context Organizer for MindManager can be used to create visual summaries of any document or web page – right from within MindManager (see: Context Organizer post).

Included within the add-in is an options dialogue that can be used to create summaries with more or less elements and whether selected elements are displayed expanded or not.

image The basic option to consider is the size and scope of the summary produced based on keywords- options for this are: total number of keywords to be included; defining how many keywords are to be considered as “top” keywords (the default is 3); how many keywords of lesser importance are to be included as “other” (this is set automatically, being the difference between the total and top keywords).

imageThe next group of options determine whether grouping branches are inserted into the map and whether these groups are to be displayed initial either expanded or collapsed.

The best way to explain what the different combinations of these options result in is to illustrate with a few examples.  Here a Wiki page on business analysis is used as the summarised article.

1. All Grouping Branches Selected, Expand Only “Top” Keywords

default context

 

default context map

2. All Grouping Branches Selected, Expand “Top” and “Other” Keywords

context expand other

 

context expand other map

3. No Context Branch Group – Summary and Keywords Connected Directly to the Central Topic

context no context 

 

context no context map

 4. Only “Summary” Branch Group Selected, No Keywords Expanded

context no headers

 

context no headers map

As you can see, this last set of options attaches all the keywords and the summary grouping branch directly to the central topic.  Depending on the topic layout options you have selected in MindManager (right map, tree, split tree and so on), the keyword topics will be displayed in the relevant map layout.  Here the layout is “Map” giving the basic mind map radiant layout. 

To learn more about Context Organizer for MindManager visit http://www.contextdiscovery.com/context-organizer-for-mindjet-mindmanager.aspx

 

Biggerplate is Changing

February 7, 2011

BiggerplateThe premier site for exchanging MindManager maps is Biggerplate.  It is a free resource where you can post maps you wish to share and find others when you need inspiration.  The site is nearing the final stages of a new version and will shortly enter beta test. 

Liam Hughes is the site owner and has provided a list of improvements for the new version.  These are:

  • Bulk Uploads: a fast method to upload up to ten maps at once
  • Auto-Complete: as a map is uploaded it will be scanned automatically to create a title, description (where available) and relevant key word tags, meaning there is very little data entry for contributors to do. They can of course edit everything as they choose.
  • Improved copyright and licensing options (control how your work is used)
  • Embed links to your own web site in the map descriptions
  • Mini-Profiles: Promote yourself and your business, and learn how other people are using mind mapping/Biggerplate
  • Fully integrated MindManager viewer to enable people to view mind maps without having to download anything
  • No more Google Ads!
  • No size limit on mind map uploads (previously maps with lots of pictures may have caused the site to reject them).
  • Vastly improved browse and search functions, making it far easier to find a wider range of mind map content.

screen_shot_1Some of these items caught my eye in particular, here are further details:

Auto-Complete

As a map is uploaded the site will scan it and create a title, description and tags.  To get the best results note the following:

  • The map title will be extracted from the central topic, so having an accurate and descriptive central topic for your map is a good place to start
  • The map description will be extracted from the properties dialogue within MindManager (File>Info>Properties) using any information that is added to the comments section. So if you want the Auto-Complete function to fill out everything, enter the information into this comments section when you save your map
  • The “Tags” for the map are extracted from either the keywords field (again within the properties dialogue) or, if there are no keywords entered in the document properties, the site will extract them from the level 1 subtopics within your map.

You will be able to accept these results or edit them to your liking.

Embed Links

One of the great advantages of Biggerplate is the platform it provides for marketing yourself or your business.  The new site will now create hyperlinks to links included in the map description, allowing other users to visit your site to find out more.

For instance, a map description can include something like:

This map on project managing in enterprise is intended to help senior IT managers plan complex projects from start to finish. For more information, please visit my blog: HYPERLINK “http://www.blog.biggerplate.comwww.blog.biggerplate.com

Biggerplate will recognise this and automatically create a hyperlink to the site indicated. This is a great way for small businesses, blog owners and web sites to promote themselves through the maps they share on Biggerplate.

Mini-Profiles

screen_shot_2 The aim of mini-profiles is to help people see and learn more about how others are using mind mapping and Biggerplate. Once registered on Biggerplate, you will be able to enter a short and information on how you use mind mapping, and/or Biggerplate. This will be displayed along with all the maps you have added to the site. You will also be able to enter information to help other people connect with you on your preferred online networks, by entering your Twitter Username, Web site Address, Facebook URL and so on. 

Say your mind map appears in my search results, I will be able to click your name and view your mini-profile. This may give me some extra information about who you are, and help me to understand better the context in which the map was created, perhaps lending extra credibility to the map contents.

Everything in the mini-profile section is opt-in, and no information (apart from username and mind maps) will be displayed if the user does not add it.

There is no published launch date for the new site however beta testing is due to start soon.  Liam has provided a couple of screen shots of the development site (click the thumbnails in this post), the final version will be different in some areas, and they should whet our appetites for now.

Whilst the function for exporting tasks to Outlook that existed in MM8 appears to be missing from the review copy of MM9, it is still possible to export topics to Outlook as either tasks or appointments.

Apologies to those of you who know of this option, I have only just discovered it (Doh!).  For those of you who don’t and want to export topics to Outlook, you can do so as follows:

  • Select a topic (just one at a time)
  • Right click on the topic
  • Select “Send To” from the menu that pops up …
  • … then select either “Microsoft Outlook as Task” or “Microsoft Outlook as Appointment”
  • View the Outlook task or appointment that opens, edit it and save and close
  • Repeat for additional tasks – one at a time.

image I have occasionally exported tasks, appointments and emails from Outlook using the MM add-in however my review copy did not install this to Outlook for MM 9. 

I don’t know if any of these apparently missing Outlook functions will be available in the final version. 

imageThe new MM 9 Outlook function works on the premise that you run a query from within MM 9 to automatically select and import the Outlook tasks, appointments, emails and contacts you want.  The queries can be edited to fine tune the selections, they can be cloned and edited or you can create your own.  image

See also Andrew Wilcox’s postings for further details: New Outlook Query Functions in MindManager 9 and The Outlook Query in MindManager 9

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A new feature in MindManager 9 is the Slide view.  Working with this one can break a map up into different views, each containing only a portion of the map.  This is a great option for walking through a map with colleagues, one part of the map at a time.

image

Using the map example here (left), let’s suppose we want to create views of the map based on selected main branches.  The purpose being we want to create a slide for each branch, then present and review that portion of the map displayed by the slide

imageSelect each branch in turn, perform a “Right Click” on the topic and select “New Slide from Branch”.  The first time this is done, a pane will open and display the slide thus created.

image Keep selecting branches and “New Slide from Branch” until you have all the slides you need. 

 

 

imageNotice how MindManager places a slide icon against each topic from which a slide has been created.

image You may now step through the map slide by slide by clicking each slide in the slide pane in turn.  This causes only the portion of the map forming the slide to be displayed in the main pane.

image Alternatively, you may use the “Slide Show” view to step through the slides in full screen mode.  The slide may be edited even in Slide Show mode – great for adding instant feedback and new ideas to the map.

image From the ribbon, select the drop down arrow on the “Slides” button reveals a print option. 

 

 

imageThe slides can be printed with a single click – great for emailing or hand outs – see this PDF example (below).

 

 

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MindJet have just released news of Version 9 of MindManager, generally available from 10th August.

From MindJet themselves we hear;

The new version improves upon the seamless integration with the Microsoft Office suite and SharePoint, allowing users to quickly bring together information and content from a variety of sources into an intuitive visual map that aids planning, brainstorming and project management. The scope and ease of integration with Office, combined with the intuitive display of multiple sources of information, has lead some to describe MindManager as “the missing office application.”

MindJet have summarised the key features of Version 9 as follows:

· Power Performance – Faster map loading while using fewer system resources

· MindManager Slide Show – Enables users to create and present a series of slides based off map, tree and organisational chart layouts helping to align and organise information, ideas and strategies to be more productive.

· Microsoft Outlook Integration – Features more powerful integration with Microsoft Outlook tasks, emails, notes, calendar items and contacts and enables individuals to easily assign priorities, filter on priority, and drag and drop content for better organisation.  Dynamic branches of Outlook tasks can be added to maps and visualised in MindManager’s integrated Gantt chart.

· Microsoft PowerPoint Integration – Users can now easily export content from MindManager into PowerPoint slides to accomplish more, faster.

· Microsoft Project Integration – Improved integration allows for exporting of plans created within MindManager as Microsoft Project files.

· Resource Utilization – To help ensure your plan’s success, users can better understand which resources are over or underutilised.

· Gantt Chart View– Individuals can view task and project plan timelines in MindManager’s integrated and synchronised Gantt chart. Updates can be made to maps by adjusting the Gantt chart or by making changes directly into a map.

I hope to be able to give an early review of some of these features in due course.  A slightly different summary is available at the MindJet website – click the image below.

image

 

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Mindjet

MindJet have begun a programme to recognise blogs that promote mind mapping and MindManager. Garret Scott of MindJet wrote, "It is individuals like you who help to champion the mapping way of life."

The programme includes the option to display the MindJet Trusted Voice logo on the web sites and blogs belonging to members.

The programme has caused some debate amongst mind mappers.  Some have declined as they fear that to display the badge may effect how others view their impartiality – a position I would fully endorse for those who provide us with reviews of the market as a whole. 

A scan of the postings on this blog will quickly reveal I am partial to MindManager as a user.  I am happy to accept the invitation.

Vic Gee has recorded some thoughtful observations on this subject at his Mind Mapping Blog – see http://www.mind-mapping.org/blog/2010/07/trusted-voice/