As a leading server solution provider, Silicon Mechanics provides the muscle behind many high-powered computing environments. As client workloads become increasingly complex and demanding, product experts at Silicon Mechanics search for more advanced technology to handle those workloads. But despite—or because of—the sophisticated computing solutions they sell, Silicon Mechanics still needed an easy-to-use diagramming program that could communicate ideas quickly and clearly to customers and team members.
Elizabeth Marshall, a product manager at Silicon Mechanics, explained, “Every time you see servers on TV, they’re like a wall of servers with blinky lights. Those servers are installed in a rack so that you can pull the server out if you need to, service it, and then put it back in. When we rack up all those servers for customers, customers want to know which servers will be where before they get the rack . . . and they want to have input in that decision.” Customers also wanted to know the exact location of cables, switches, and ports, and they needed that information in a visual, accessible format.
The team at Silicon Mechanics was using Microsoft Visio for their diagramming needs, but like many medium-size businesses, they were concerned about the high price of provisioning a Visio license for each employee. Elizabeth said:
“We were literally asking our help desk guy to take Visio off of someone’s machine and put it onto another machine, so that person could get a major project done. And he’d have to come take it away later. That is the opposite of scalable.”
Silicon Mechanics soon heard about Lucidchart and tasked Assistant Product Manager Britton Nesheim with learning the intricacies of the program. The team needed Lucidchart to solve two pressing issues: creating shareable flowcharts and process flows internally and functioning effortlessly as a Visio replacement for external communications.
Easing internal communication
Britton responded with glowing reports about Lucidchart’s ease of use, seamless integration with Google Drive, and innovative design elements. He stated:
“All the basic functions are so easy to use, but of course, the feature that really impressed me was hotspots and the ability to create faux webpages, which can add a lot of depth to the diagrams we’re doing. I haven’t seen anything like that in a program like this, and it’s really cool to have a mixture of every kind of media software built into one app that’s centered around diagrams.”
The team began using Lucidchart for internal flowcharts and were pleased with the results—but it wasn't until they understood the implications for external communication that they convinced a team account was worth the money.
Paying less for smooth external communication
After experimenting with several free accounts, the team at Silicon Mechanics discovered a new beta feature: importing Visio files. At that point, they decided that Lucidchart was the obvious choice for their company. Elizabeth said, ‘We basically took it to the CFO and said, “Hey, instead of paying for a lot of Visio licenses, would you like to pay this much smaller sum?” And he said, “Yes, yes, I would.’”
Sue Lewis, director of product management, said this about their final decision:
We bought a company license because we had a number of people at the company who needed something that would help them lay out processes and make them visible to our customers or other people in the company. A lot of our customers want to communicate through Visio documents, and with Lucidchart, we can export into standard Visio file formats. When we send those diagrams, we can choose from PDF or Visio format, and that flexibility is very important. Plus, Lucidchart was less expensive and didn’t need to be installed on everybody’s machine. But Visio import and export was our decision-maker. That’s why we chose Lucidchart.
With Lucidchart, the Silicon Mechanics team was able to import Visio files from their server chassis suppliers. Product managers could visually rearrange components and then seek final approval from the client. The entire process was expedited, and the end result was a digital reference document that could be viewed or edited at any time. Elizabeth said:
“A lot of our customers aren’t actually going to be in front of their servers when an emergency happens. If they’re in another city, having those documents can really help our customers picture where various servers are and how they’re cabled up. . . . It turns out to be, in a nuts-and-bolts way, pretty important.”
Lucidchart also solved the problem of cross-platform compatibility. As a web-based product, any Silicon Mechanics customer can view or edit Lucidchart files, regardless of operating system, device type, or Visio availability.
Silicon Mechanics used the smooth interoperability between Visio and Lucidchart to quickly communicate with customers and amongst themselves. Lucidchart helped them generate crucial diagrams and reference sheets that are always accessible and infinitely customizable.
See for yourself why Silicon Mechanics and other top companies are making the switch to Lucidchart.