Microsoft Visio Demystified

Have you ever tried to create a flow chart such as a family tree using Paint or Microsoft word? A lot of us have, and have quickly come to the realisation that it’s utterly impractical – the connecting lines go skew-whiff and won’t sit flush with the shapes, everything needs its format altering to ‘tight’ and overall, limitations ensure that your flow chart is often binned before the save button has ever been hit. That’s where Microsoft Visio comes in.

What is Visio?

Microsoft Visio is a Professional software used to draw flow-charts, diagrams and schematics in a business environment. It is a part of the Microsoft Office family and can be purchased in various forms: Standard, Professional or Visio Pro for Office 365 (2016 is the most up-to-date version).

One of the key benefits of Visio is the ability to connect diagrams and their shapes to multiple sources of data, ranging from a simple Excel file up to an SQL database. Imagine: if you connect your diagrams to data, they become dynamic and always reflect the data they are linked to. For many, this is the most relevant feature of Visio, and significantly contributes for one of the key benefits of the product which is to save its users time (note, this is the case with all versions except Visio Standard).

Each version has different features and benefits, all of which are explained in further detail on the Microsoft website. The Microsoft site also gives you the opportunity to test drive Visio scenarios and to download a free trial prior to purchase, to see if Visio is right for you.

Visio can be used on computers and portable touch screen devices –although this is not always best if what you’re creating is extremely detailed – and allows for co-authorisation and collaboration on diagrams.

How does Visio work?

When you start Visio, it opens the featured page, with a list of several new documents that use different types of templates, from business flowcharts to architectural objects and engineering projects. Not only does it provide several ready-made drawing templates, but it also has an intuitive workflow that makes the process far easier for users.

If you start with a blank document, you first need to choose either the metric unit or the US one.

You have rulers and grids for precision, as well as all the usual Office alterable tools like orientation and page size.

Visio drawings are composed of three main kinds of object: shapes, connectors and text.

The shapes are used to represent a topic, component or symbol. Connectors are used to connect two or more shapes together, showing the relationship between them, and text is used to describe the shapes and add notes/labels for clarity.

It is best to start drawing from the shapes, whether they be template shapes or fully customised. Each template shape has various connection points; however customised shapes require connection points to be manually added.

As with most Office applications, use the pointer tool to manage and edit objects.

What can be the purpose of Visio?

  • Marketing/Advertising: print/online flowcharts often increase engagement levels of readers
  • HR: show clearly the staff leadership structure of your organization with names, contact details etc.
  • IT Efficiency: use a Visio diagram to depict your business’ IT network, making it much easier to address bottlenecks.
  • Retail/Service industry: create a detailed overview of your supply chain, how your product is manufactured or a step-by-step guide to the service your business provides to demystify the customer experience.
  • Education: use Visio to depict scientific processes, complex theories/concepts or timelines to your students, hence making them easier to understand.

These are but a few!

An example of something Ebuyer made using Visio:

Don’t judge us, this only took about ten minutes to put together. We just wanted to prove that you don’t need super skills to make use of Visio.

Official Visio tutorials:

Hit ‘play’ below to watch some official Microsoft created Visio tutorials. Alternatively, Microsoft host regular Visio webinars that help you to get the most from its features. Reserve your space on the upcoming webcasts here.

Overall, Visio is a valuable tool for bringing diagrams to life and aiding visual communication. If you read this post and think that Visio could aid you or your business in any way, why not give it a try.

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