From understanding a customer’s existing architecture and processes to outlining the desired state, teams at 4C use Lucidchart visuals to bridge the gap between technical and non-technical audiences and turn ideas into action.
As EMEA’s largest independent Salesforce Platinum Partner, 4C has their work cut out for them as they help a wide variety of clients with Salesforce strategy and implementation. Consultants work to design systems and processes that will help clients better manage and serve their own customers throughout the sales cycle. Their clients span from small companies needing to optimize their existing Salesforce process to large enterprises requiring intensive implementation of Salesforce for the first time.
Regardless of the size of the company or scope of the project, 4C can’t successfully serve their clients without constant clear communication, both internally among employees and externally with clients. Luckily, 4C has found their ticket to ensuring seamless communication and clear understanding during a project: visualizing with Lucidchart. From understanding a customer’s existing architecture and processes to outlining the desired state, visuals bridge the gap between technical and non-technical audiences and turn ideas into action.
Mapping architecture with ERDs
As a lead consultant at 4C, Jordan Fraser works with a team primarily on the solution design and build phases. In doing so, he’s often trying to communicate very technical concepts to a relatively non-technical audience—and he’s found that visuals do much more than a written or spoken narrative ever can. Jordan explains:
“Visual is always better for the customer. A lot of the involved stakeholders understand business objectives but not the underlying technology. Using Lucidchart to translate a very technical conversation so that it directly maps to their expectations in terms of business objectives is extremely useful."
Visuals are a crucial part of the solutions design that consultants create for their customers, which also acts as the blueprint for actual implementation. One of the most important diagrams included in this documentation is an entity relationship diagram (ERD), which maps out the architecture housing a client’s data. Using Lucidchart, Jordan diagrams the current state against the target state in order to highlight differences and demonstrate where data needs to be migrated. Jordan takes advantage of Lucidchart’s schema import to make his diagram creation even easier. He is able to share his diagrams with the technical consultants so they can offer feedback directly within the document to ensure accuracy.
“Lucidchart makes it a lot easier to sort your thoughts and to put them down somewhere. You can accomplish a lot more with a tool that keeps track of everything you’re doing rather than with a static and messy whiteboard,” Jordan says.
Gathering requirements with mind maps
Kasper Jensen is another lead consultant at 4C. Like Jordan, he was already using Lucidchart to easily create ERDs. But he quickly realized he was just barely tapping the potential of Lucidchart with this single use case—there were so many more ways visuals could help in his role.
Now Lucidchart has become the focal point of Kasper’s customer interactions, helping him and the customer get ideas and information out of their heads into an actionable format so they can come to shared understanding and move forward. Kasper explains:
“Visuals make it easier to validate what I’m thinking and to get customers talking. Instead of taking notes and sharing them after, I can do ‘public note taking’ in real time that allows customers to provide feedback more easily. I can draw how I understand their process, and they know right away whether or not I understand it correctly."
Kasper kicks off the requirements gathering process by sitting down with a customer and building a mind map in Lucidchart. This practice helps get the client talking—seeing these ideas visualized in an organized manner can often help the customer remember crucial elements they might have otherwise forgotten. And conducting this process in real time helps everyone get on the same page the first time around.
“Before Lucidchart, I was just taking notes and then sharing those with the customer after. But two people can be taking notes in the same discussion and come up with completely different views on what the customer said. With a visual, you get to shared understanding faster,” Kasper explains.
Optimizing and planning with process maps
Using the details he has gathered, Kasper next maps out the customer’s current process with them in real time, allowing for immediate feedback to ensure accurate documentation. He then outlines the to-be process with his suggested improvements—whether it involves improving the process used in an existing Salesforce instance or implementing Salesforce for the first time.
These visuals ensure that everyone understands the proposed solution and that the agreed-upon processes are clearly documented in a central location. They’re easy to share, and Kasper knows everyone always has the most up-to-date version without him having to email out every new iteration.
During one of Kasper’s projects, the primary contact at the client changed, and questions suddenly arose about the solution that had been built. They discovered some aspects of the involved processes were incorrect, and both parties were worried that significant redevelopment would be required.
So Kasper went back to the drawing board and slowly mapped out each and every process involved in the client’s sales cycle, from the client’s initial contact with a prospect to the invoice. He built a Lucidchart document with several tabs for each process, using hotspots to link to the different processes internally. By completing this activity with the stakeholders in real time, everyone understood the details and agreed that the existing solution was very close to what the new contact had in mind, eliminating the rework that had been expected.
Kasper finds it helpful to update his Lucidchart diagrams as clients come up with changes or new requests. Doing so makes it easy to see when the scope changes and saves the company significant time by helping to prevent rework. Kasper says:
“Lucidchart is a good investment. It verifies we’re going down the right path so we know we’re doing it right from the beginning."
Mapping user stories with mind maps
Alan Morgan is head of design at 4C and heads up a team of senior consultants that design projects for technology implementation. But Alan has a second job: Lucidchart champion and power user. He has encouraged adoption of the platform throughout the company to consultants like Jordan and Kasper because, as he puts it, “Lucidchart solves a lot of my problems.”
One of these problems was attempting to meet customer demands for faster turnaround. Customers have a hard time understanding the necessity of 4C’s complex design process—they just want their solution built as quickly as possible. Alan realized that in order to cut down the time and work required for design, he specifically needed to speed up the creation of user stories. One project can typically require hundreds of user stories, and documenting these stories can take weeks—which is not a scalable activity.
So Alan turned to Lucidchart to reinvent his user story documentation. He started building mind maps to document user stories in real time with a client. It’s a collaborative activity that allows each department to outline what is most important to them and offer feedback. These user stories are a constant iteration, and the fact that changes can be made on the spot rather than through back-and-forth feedback saves customers five to six days of work. This process educates the customer on the size and scope of a project and allows for revisions without completely rewriting the user stories.
Once a final version has been reached, Alan exports the mind map as a list that is then transferred to Excel and becomes the master requirements document, or defined list of what needs to be built for the customer. Documenting user stories in this way saves Alan two whole days of work, significantly speeding up project turnaround for customers. Alan explains:
“Lucidchart saves me a lot of headaches during this documentation process. Doing it live allows for greater understanding and collaboration. What we create in Lucidchart provides the bedrock of our solution design document."
The faster turnaround has expanded 4C’s customer base—they are able to work with clients who have tighter budgets and previously couldn’t afford the service with the extra hours of work required for design.
Alan loves the fact that he can use Lucidchart absolutely everywhere—whether that be from his PC, Mac, phone, or tablet—and he takes full advantage of this capability. In one instance, Alan was dropped into a sales pitch in which the CEO deviated from the original agenda and instead started grilling Alan on the project, which had been agreed upon months ago.
“I had dealt with so many clients since our agreement, I wasn’t expecting to be grilled, and I was having a hard time recalling the details of this specific project. My laptop was dead. So I used my client’s laptop to log into Lucidchart. I walked them through the documentation we had stored there, reminding myself of the details as I did so. Lucidchart set me up for success in that situation,” describes Alan.
Building the blueprint
The documentation that Alan, Jordan, and Kasper create sets the client and 4C up for success, serving as the blueprint that the build and customer success teams can use to implement and maintain a client’s technology solution. The documents are easily shared internally and externally using Lucidchart’s integrations with Google Drive and Quip. As a result, projects can easily change hands without losing the context and understanding that has been carefully gathered from customers.
Creating visuals in Lucidchart provides the communication and collaboration 4C needs to create success for their company and their clients.