Chapter 4: Sharing your map

Conquering mapping software - The ultimate guide

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When to share a map


You have created your perfect map, and now you'll want to communicate your results. There will be times when you and your team will collaborate on maps. We can identify a few of these as examples:

  • The most frequent use case is for performance reporting and feedback. Plot regional and territorial results on a series of maps. The visualization provides a great way to compare results across regions or against targets. Distribute your visualizations widely to aid communication and decision-making.
  • Prepare one-off maps for annual budgets or strategic plans.
  • A retail company includes a map of its stores on its website.
  • A franchise management company shares its analysis of individual franchisee performance with each franchisee.
  • A franchise management company publishes a list of available franchise locations to potential franchisees.
  • The CSO includes a visual display of regional performance in her report to the CEO.
  • A central data analysis team prepares reports for use by regional managers and needs to share these.
  • A territory re-alignment project requires regional sales managers to collaborate on proposed changes or to break a large territory into smaller sub-territories.
  • The logistics team prepares optimized routes and shares these with the delivery teams.
  • The marketing team has identified a list of potential customers the sales team should target for a new campaign.

Sharing techniques

The best mapping software will allow for easy communication and collaboration. It will also provide different sharing options. The most common are:

  • Publishing an interactive or static map to a web page for the public
  • Sharing a link to a web map with a limited audience
  • Sharing a map within an organization with individuals or teams
  • Generating a PDF of the map and attach this to an email
  • Adding a map or 'mapbook' to a PowerPoint presentation
  • Printing the map and distribute the printout (or just pin it to a wall)
  • Generating an Excel file with a targeted list of addresses or phone numbers

When we talk about sharing a 'map,' we also refer to the complete map visualization, including any legend, titles, tables, charts, or annotations you may have added to the map. Sharing allows for aggregating maps into a single mapbook if sharing the complete set of maps is required.

User interaction

When you share your map, decide the extent you want the recipient to be able to interact with the map. For instance:

  • Can they pan and zoom on your map?
  • Can they filter (or un-filter) data on the map for further analysis?
  • Will they be able to edit the data on the map or add new records?
  • Can they add new layers to the map?
  • Can they change any of the styling options on the map, such as pin styles, data filters, or labels?
  • Can they generate a thematic map or turn off a thematic?
  • Can they save a new version of the map for their use?
  • Are they allowed to re-share the map?

The answers to these and other questions will vary depending on your situation and are influenced by whether you need full collaboration or simply want to share the output.

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You have created a great visualization that generates exciting insight to save the company money. You have shared this with the team that can affect the necessary changes. The last part of the process is to ensure they know you've shared the map. The best software will include notification systems that automatically alert the recipients that the map is available. It includes automated emails and in-application messaging.

Single source of data

Where collaboration is essential, everyone in the organization must be working from the same data sources. In the past, mapping software implementations used stand-alone desktop solutions, leading to data getting out of sync and miscommunication.

Modern software stores all the data in a central database, giving all users access to up-to-date information.