In this article I will briefly share my experiences with MURAL, a versatile visual collaboration tool for teams. I will also try to compare MURAL with Microsoft Whiteboard app for Office 365, that provides also simple visual collaboration features. MURAL and Microsoft have partnered for quite some time, so you can see various integrations in het Microsoft product stack.
MURAL – Packed Toolbox with versatile templates
“MURAL is a digital workspace for visual collaboration. Based in the cloud, MURAL provides shared, virtual whiteboards where teams can visually explore complex challenges, facilitate design thinking methods, and organize Agile processes across any device.”
The service description above on the MURAL support and help page is very strong, but directly it shows the versatility of this visual collaboration tool in the cloud. This versality is also reflected in the 100+ templates that are out-of-the-box available.
Personally I’ve used MURAL during a knowledge session of the IIBA (International Institute for Business Analysis) Dutch Chapter. Several collaboration exercises in break out rooms were done, to show the power of the visual collaboration capabilities. It was cool and fun to do.
- I see a lot of potential value for agile scrum teams, MURAL has templates that support the scrum rituals. (Roadmap, User stories, Scrum Framework, Retrospective)
- I see a lot of value in brainstorming and business model canvas and tools for other business model innovation activities;
In my honest opinion it are the templates that makes MURAL extremely powerful for visual collaboration. The learning curve is fairly flat and there are good tutorials available.
Microsoft Office 365 Whiteboard App or MURAL
Whiteboard has been in my Office 365 E1 subscription for some time, and there is also a free Whiteboard App in the Microsoft Store.
The look and feel is like a real whiteboard with pencils and markers. This is the case with both the Microsoft Whiteboard UWP App from the Microsoft Store and using Microsoft Whiteboard from the Office 365 ribbon in your web-browser.
Of course my 4 year old daughter loves it as her first steps on a Windows computer, in addition to typing a word document. However it can also be helpful in a professional setting, simply because you can add notes, note grids, lists and follow-ups. Further more you can add templates for brainstorming, kanban and retrospective.
The Microsoft Office 365 Whiteboard App works well, when you work with Microsoft Office 365, but the number of professional templates are limited and even basic when you compare it against MURAL.
Concluding thoughts and wrap-up
I’ve learned about MURAL during a knowledge session of the Dutch IIBA chapter.
It is easy and fun to use, yet powerful due to the templates that are out of the box available. I was positively surprised by the diversity of the available templates. MURAL and Microsoft have been collaborating since 2014. MURAL is hosted on the Microsoft Azure Infrastructure and it perfectly works with Windows 10, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Surface hardware. There are different price-tiers available while you can also try it for free. When there is a commercial benefit or you brainstorm a lot, than the $ 144,- for a year of using the MURAL service is reasonable. For personal use it is harder to justify.
The Microsoft Whiteboard App is free when you have an Office 365 subscription anyway. The templates are limited, but for personal use it might do the trick very very well. Lets hope that over time more professional and creative templates will become available, even if it would require a slight increase in subscription fee.
Did you use MURAL? And if so what is your preferred usage scenario?