Visio Review

Provides a quick way to spruce up client reports and proposals with rudimentary yet impactful visuals

What is our primary use case?

I use Visio when I'm writing a client report in Microsoft Word, and I want to put in a simple graphic to supplement the text or better explain something. Visio's graphics are not complicated. They're quick and easy to create, so I use them mainly for what I would call static graphics, like simple charts and diagrams.

How has it helped my organization?

Visio has improved my workflow by making it easy to create charts, diagrams, and essential illustrations to use in my client reports and proposals. It has saved me a lot of time I would otherwise spend creating visuals for clients manually.

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable features is the online support from Microsoft. Whenever I'm stuck with a problem, I can contact customer support. They will almost certainly get back to me within a reasonable time frame. They're good with that.

It is easy to use online tutorials and training videos provided by Microsoft and elsewhere, such as on YouTube. So if I want to create a new diagram, add some shapes, or increase the weight of a connection from one object to another in your graph, I can easily find out how to do that.

Another aspect that I enjoy is the seamless online integration. For example, there's the ability to download all sorts of extras like different shapes, stencils, objects, etc., for free directly from Microsoft into Visio. Also, I like that you can drag and drop online pictures straight from the Web into Visio.

What needs improvement?

There could be better integration between Visio and Word, especially when it comes to importing graphics from the one to the other. Visio's graphics don't seem to play well with other applications. Sometimes I move a business process graphic to a Word document. It doesn't copy the picture correctly, or it leaves some of the connectors off. Or it puts the wrong one in or changes the font for no apparent reason. That's a pain in the neck, and it's one of my biggest complaints about Visio.

Moreover, when I connect a caption to a drawing and move the drawing, sometimes the caption gets left behind. And if you shrink the size of a drawing, I'd like Visio to scale the font automatically. Small details like this would significantly improve the product.

Aesthetically speaking, the graphics can be a bit crude and simplistic. The graphics are sufficient for most purposes. Visio is a static program that tries to keep things simple for most users. However, I would appreciate it if they made an allowance for at least slightly more complicated graphics. As they are now, they do not inspire. People don't look at the graphics and say, "Wow, that's a great graphic." They look at it and say, "Uh-huh, move on. Next!" It's a lot of sameness.

I would also love to see Visio with a more intuitive and reliable data linking feature. I shouldn't have to program or develop any complicated code. Just press a button, connect to the spreadsheet, and update it. For me, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. You should trust your application so that when you need it to link, it links. It would help to know that Visio is using the latest data, mainly because you don't want to embarrass yourself in front of a customer with wrong or outdated data.

I like dynamic programs. I want to take inputs from other places and have the application automatically update my chart and know that it's correct. And not only do I want it updated, but I wish to document updates, so I can see what updates were selected and used. So if the document references a spreadsheet or an Access database, it shows where the data came from, what version it is, and the date. If you're doing a nice bar chart in Visio and you want all the bells and whistles, you can see the source material and revision of the chart so that you don't have to go back and say, "Is this right?"

I want to create my objects and my object library more easily. I think you can do some of that, but it's not that simple. I haven't had a lot of experience doing it, but when I did try it, it was awkward.

The support is okay, though not super great; I wouldn't expect it to be. Visio is not a program where you need a lot of hand-holding for most tasks. It's quite suitable for those who want to drag and drop, so support isn't too crucial, though there could be room for improvement.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Visio since it first came out in the early 1990s.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. I have never had a crash in Visio ever.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

For my use case, there's not much need to scale it up in any meaningful sense. When I'm writing a proposal or preparing a report for a client, I try only to put in good graphics to get my point across.

I typically create my graphics and place them in a Word document. And then I hope they stay together as I move things around. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. So, in terms of scalability and accuracy, Microsoft could improve integration between the different applications.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't had to use technical support very often at all over the years. I might have used it only once or twice in the past twenty-something years. I'd rate the support I received as a five out of ten. Not too good, not too bad. Thankfully, they've gotten rid of a lot of the need for that kind of tech support by putting better help and documentation online.

Microsoft offers training videos online that teach the basics of Visio well enough. I can also go on YouTube if there's something unique or unusual that I need to do. Frequently, somebody's already done it, and I can quickly learn how they did it.

Suppose you do want technical support. In that case, Microsoft has a reasonably active Visio user group. However, it's not real-time help, and you may have to wait a little while for a response. If you want somebody to help you live, you're going to have to pay a third-party company for that kind of support. I don't use Visio so much that it's worth going that route.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I used a similar solution to Visio many years ago, designed for business flowcharts and business processing. The company that built the software went out of business.

How was the initial setup?

It's easy to get started with mocking-up simple flow charts and diagrams. Still, it can get very complicated when setting out anything a bit more detailed—especially when getting titles, labels, and font sizes to match up. Suppose you want to make a custom organizational chart or a product line chart with all the details and specifications. In that case, I suspect you'll need to set aside some time to learn the user interface more thoroughly.

What about the implementation team?


What was our ROI?

I haven't actually calculated an ROI, but I would approximate that I save at least two hours time of cumulative manual effort for each graphic built with Visio.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The licensing process is a breeze. Buy the license and download the application from Microsoft. Enter the license key in Visio to activate the software.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No.  I've used Visio for many years.  It does what we need it to do.

What other advice do I have?

I like to call Visio a program for the graphically impaired. I use it because I hate spending lots of time preparing graphics. I would recommend skipping any fancier alternatives. Most people might benefit from adding quality visuals to their documents but don't have design skills. In that case, I recommend using Visio instead.

As long as you don't have excessive expectations, it will do what you need it to do and do it for a reasonable cost.

I would rate Visio an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?


Which version of this solution are you currently using?

Professional 2019
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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