Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Using Visio to architect solutions

Often I have to make up a presentation from scratch. Some of you would argue that this is more of a job for marketing or documentation, but when you have to show a customer a picture of what your product will do for them, you need to be self-sufficient and do it yourself.

Microsoft Visio is often a great tool for doing this kind of stuff. However, if you are like me, and not using it all the time, sometimes you find yourself scratching around for hours getting the right sort of picture going. There are so many different tools and toolsets for getting information in and building diagrams, network maps and other cool stuff, but how do you get them working?

Luckily there are a lot of how-to tutorials online that should get you going quick. The Visio Guy links to some very helpful video tutorials, and in general he is a great resource for finding your way round the program, and programming it to do other interesting things.

I often just build a diagram in Visio and drop it straight into a powerpoint or word document. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words, and looks a damn sight better. A must for any customer response I would say, so I would use them in any of the following situations:
  • Customer Architecture presentation
  • Product Integration Diagram
  • Network Diagram
  • Roles and Responsibilities chart
  • Anything involving an Active Directory or LDAP
  • RFI responses
  • Service Provider model
And I am sure there are many other points of doing a visio presentation as well.

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