Microsoft Visio has been the industry standard software for creating flowcharts and network diagrams for well over a decade. As with all the Office suite applications, Visio has evolved beyond its roots as a simple drawing tool, and in the 2010 edition offers a wide range of advanced features, including mapping diagrams to live data as a front-end for business intelligence dashboards in SharePoint.
If Visio deployment is limited in you organization to network engineers and project managers, you should consider moving the software out to front-line business users-at least anyone you consider to be a mid-level Excel user or who is involved in building reports that could use a little visual flair to avoid data overload. And for any manager involved in modeling out business processes, Visio is a must.
The Visio 2010 Quick reference Guide, from our partners at CustomGuide, offers new Visio users a two-page cheat sheet on the software's basic diagramming and chart-building features. The 2-page PDF, which is available free to IT Business Edge members here in the IT Downloads library, won't make a newbie an expert on creating live data charts, but it does offer a solid introduction to the application.
The quick guide's centerpiece is a visual breakdown of the main Visio workspace, accompanied by lists of menu options and keyboard shortcuts for core functionality, such as finding shapes in the extensive libraries and building persistent connections between shapes.
The sheet also includes overviews of the diagram template available for the program, as you can see in the screen cap below.
Each Visio diagram templates includes stencils, sets of images that are specific to a discipline. Stencils are particularly useful in these areas, since computer engineering has a common visual vocabulary-a database is presented by the same image in any given flowchart. Visio also has a scheduling template that can be used to create either traditional calendars or Gantt charts, which of course can be tied to Excel and other data sources.
If your company is not using Visio or is considering expanding use of the software, you should definitely download this guide as starting point for introducing the application to a wider base in your enterprise.
Also be sure to check out CustomGuide user tip sheets for a wide variety of productivity software, from Adobe Acrobat to Microsoft Access, all available here in the IT Downloads library.