When Wood Young started as a new enterprise architect at Farm Credit Mid-America, one of his first assignments was to recommend a diagramming application for his entire team to use. Wood and his team already had access to Microsoft Visio, and he evaluated a variety of other applications as well. But one solution in particular stood out for its extreme ease of use. Realizing how important this ease of use is for team adoption, Wood recommended that the team adopt Lucidchart.
Fast forward four years, and Wood is now AVP of enterprise architecture at the company and still using Lucidchart with his team. The ease of use has proven to be key—while training a new user on Visio took one to two hours, new Lucidchart users are able to jump in immediately and learn on their own with the intuitive platform. And word has spread, as other teams across the organization are turning to Lucidchart as well.
Wood and his team design the applications that employees use to process loans for customers. When starting a new project, this team relies on Lucidchart to effectively communicate their ideas through technical diagrams. Whether it’s a systems diagram showing how different systems communicate or a workflow diagram outlining the user interface, visuals are critical for early application development.
When starting a new project, Wood holds a meeting to go over the problem to be solved. Then each team member creates their own diagram outlining their recommended path forward. These diagrams guide the next discussion as the team works to determine the best solution.
If they are trying to improve an existing system, the team builds current and future state diagrams to identify areas of improvement. With most of his team now remote, Wood will even host virtual workshops where he shares his screen and diagrams in Lucidchart in real time during a group discussion. Wood explains:
“When you're thinking about a complex, technical solution, it's always easier to be able to show something visual that really outlines all the different pieces and how they're connected. And then from there, it's much easier to dive into a more specific technical topic. But it brings a baseline level of understanding to a conversation that really launches and accelerates a lot of the projects that we work on.”
Once a solution is agreed upon, these diagrams then serve as important artifacts for the application development team as they work to actually build and implement the solution.
Bridging the technical gap
Wood also needs to provide stakeholders with visibility into proposed solutions. These stakeholders vary in their level of technical understanding, so it’s crucial that Wood clearly communicates solutions in a way that everyone can understand. He relies on visuals to serve as the common language:
“When we partner on a project with our business, a really important factor for our success is that we're able to clearly communicate what it is we're doing to both technical experts and those without that expertise. And so diagrams are almost always bridging that gap between these two groups.”
Building a consistent brand
Using features like Lucidchart’s shape libraries has helped create consistency across projects and teams. It has helped Wood and his team build a visual language and a recognizable brand, and the standardization has resulted in increased understanding across the org.
“We’ve started to build a language, a visual language that over time people will just be able to look at a diagram and suddenly understand much faster than if we had a bunch of different ways of doing the different layouts and the diagrams, or even different programs and applications.”
Enjoying a frictionless user experience
Farm Credit Mid-America strives to consistently provide a positive experience for their employees, and Lucidchart is one platform that helps them do so. Wood describes:
“The main benefits from a producer side is that it is super easy to use and extremely fast. So when you're looking to capture an idea or very, very complex system, any friction that you have is just going to add to the frustration of the user. We as an organization are really focused on the experience our employees have. And we really feel like Lucidchart provides a great user experience.”
When employees are in creation mode, they don’t want any disruptions that lead to disjointed thoughts. For Wood, it’s the little things like smoothly connecting shapes and arrows that remove friction and allow users to create without disruption.
Saving time and increasing velocity
This “painless, easy experience” also saves employees a great deal of time and has increased the velocity of projects.
“In my opinion, having a well-built, well-defined diagram can often mean the difference between hours, days, or in some cases even months of conversation and trying to get understanding feedback. There's certainly time savings from my team's perspective in building those diagrams.”
Employees across the organization are starting to notice, asking themselves, “Why am I struggling with Visio? Why can’t I just use this other tool?” Now teams across the organization are turning to Lucidchart to save time, increase understanding, and communicate effectively.