The Wild and the Weird: Interesting Uses of the Lucid Suite

My husband recently asked me to help make a piece of geometric art out of wood, depicting the famous Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. He wasn’t surprised when I immediately opened Lucidchart, and sized a few shapes into the height and width of the pine pieces he would be using. But he was impressed when I subsequently grouped those shapes, added custom data to display the cost of each piece, and then ultimately summed those costs to receive an estimate of what we’d be spending at the hardware store. 

My team is made up of the ultimate Lucid nerds—and as a Solutions Engineer at Lucid, I have seen some wild and wonderful uses for the Lucid Suite among our customer base.

Most customers aren’t designing geometric art, but they are creatively leveraging the Lucid Suite in any number of other ways: tagging and sorting Jira issues on Lucidspark boards by superhero-themed team names, reviewing auto-generated Lucidchart Cloud Insights diagrams to find areas for remediation, and creating data-powered org charts for pay parity studies in Lucidchart, among other uses. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into some of the most interesting and powerful use cases I’ve come across during my tenure.

Team Huddle Time

This first one is pretty simple, but speaks to the power of creative collaboration in a hybrid and remote world. Natasha and ther team suddenly found themselves remote in 2020, and looking to stay that way. She began to consider how to keep up team morale, and continue the fun kinds of communication they always indulged in while in-office. 

Natasha had recently started using Lucidspark to plan out engineering work, and decided it might make a great place to have a fun “team huddle.” She started using a Lucidspark board as a digital wall for her team to review actual work, alongside fun team games, GIFs, freehand drawing contests, and more. The formerly lackluster morning Zoom call became much more enjoyable and engaging, to the point that other engineering team leads borrowed Natasha’s template and began to follow her example. 

Whiteboarding Interviews

Peter and Ned are engineers at a startup tech company. Last year they were struggling to interview engineering candidates remotely, partly because their interview process typically included a whiteboarding session. That aspect of interviews was now having to be put on hold until they found a virtual whiteboard. As longtime users of Lucidchart, when they heard of Lucidspark they decided to give it a try.

Peter and Ned discovered the guest collaborator share link, which allows external users to contribute to Lucidspark boards without logging in. This enabled interviewees to hop right into the board with a single click and begin their interview. 

Lucidspark also lets Peter and Ned import class diagram shapes and ERD shapes from Lucidchart so that the interviewee can use those in their exercise—a step up from drawing wonky rectangles and scribbles on a physical board. Example diagrams from Lucidchart are also easy to drop into the whiteboard, in case further explanation is required by their candidates. Post-interview, the interview board can be shared with the hiring panel so they can all see how well the candidate completed the exercise. Using Lucidspark has been such a success that Peter and Ned have decided to continue using it in person once they return to the office.

Modernizing Calculating Process Metrics

Hope, a Process Manager I spoke to, was looking to overhaul the processes (and records of them) at her company. As part of this initiative, Hope and her team wanted to display key, auto-updating, process metrics on the document, making it easy for new processes to be built. Hope and her team made use of several Lucidchart features to build out their ideal solution. 

Hope created a custom shape library that consisted of shapes pre-populated with empty custom data fields. When these shapes were added into a process diagram, the process builder could fill those fields in as they went. Hope set up process templates with headers that used Lucidchart formulas to automatically calculate the total number of steps in the process as well as the average process step duration, dynamically displaying the process metrics as it is built out. The header also included a few of Lucidchart’s dynamic fields, such as the last person to modify the document, and the last modified date/time. To top it all off, Hope added a few conditional formatting rules in order to highlight  bottlenecks, i.e. process steps whose durations were longer than the average. 

What I most appreciated about Hope’s approach was that she thought ahead: with some work up front to templatize all of this, she saw amazingly efficient success. Each of her templates included an intro page with tips and tricks on how to not only use the template, but how to embed videos and use a few other key Lucidchart features, such as shape actions to link processes together. Hope’s team members are now spending considerably less time building out processes and calculating metrics. All they need to do is open Hope’s template and then drag and drop shapes onto the canvas to build out a standardized process, complete with reporting.

Categorizing Systems in Lucidchart

Imagine you’re in charge of a library; you’ve probably categorized each book alphabetically, by author. But you could also organize them in other ways: by genre, by title, by length, by most times checked-out…how do you visualize things across so many data points? 

Our customer, Tony, had this exact problem with systems, rather than books. He needed a good way to visualize his large list of systems, which might be organised by operating system, by data categories, by date of update or more, as they continuously evolved. When I spoke with Tony, he was doing this manually by representing each and every system as a box, nested inside containers, and listing other characteristics in text on the shape. He didn’t love this method—the visualization was cluttered, and he also had to dedicate time each week to ensuring that each of the systems were accurate and correctly placed. 

Luckily, there was a better way to create this complex visualization that would save Tony hours each week through Smart Containers in Lucidchart. Tony could upload his spreadsheet of systems and characteristics, and Lucidchart would automatically create a card for each system and place them into the proper bucketed category. 

Tony could then re-group his systems, depending on how he wanted to visualize them at the time: for example, what types of data are contained in each system? With a few clicks, he can reorganize the smart containers from operating system, to data types, and inform legal which systems contain personal data that might be affected by GDPR. He even developed some clever conditional formatting rules that added his own custom icons to the cards in order to visually indicate categories, and a text badge that called out systems that had been updated in the past week! 

The end result? Tony now has a low maintenance visual that can be updated each week with a few clicks and the flexibility to group his systems based on his most pressing question.

Highlighting Issues in Architecture & Designing Updates

Keeping cloud architecture up to date, secure, and compliant is a challenge. Our customer, Steve, is one of many consultants in the world who works with his clients to keep everything up and running. Without understanding the ins and outs of his client’s architecture, Steve can’t help them. So, he leverages Lucidchart Cloud Insights. In less than 5 minutes, Steve can generate a visual of the client’s infrastructure.

Any user of Lucidchart Cloud Insights can create that kind of visual; what makes Steve’s case unique is that he created a custom template for himself, using a sandbox AWS environment, complete with conditional formatting rules and custom views. When he is on a call with a client, he simply opens a new copy of the template and replaces his sandbox data with the client’s data. His views and conditional formatting rules immediately help him identify some common issues that his clients might be struggling with. Steve loves that he can deliver instant value and earn his clients’ confidence on one call. Later, he uses the diagram as a starting point to dig for other, deeper issues, as well as for designing out an updated architecture design for the client to review. 

Information Gathering & Creating Deliverables

When I’m chatting with customers it’s always a delight to find out that I’m talking to another solutions engineer! Wanda is a seasoned solutions engineer and has been using Lucidchart for years. Specifically, she uses Lucidchart to create professional-looking deliverables to share with her customers. 

Wanda made separate versions of her solution presentations using multiple layers, so that depending on who she was speaking with, she could easily click to a high-level executive view of the solution, a detailed view, or a very granular technical explanation. Like Hope, Wanda capitalized on Lucidchart’s custom shapes and built out a library representing the various parts of her company’s solutions, so that she could build these diagrams out quickly. 

More recently, Wanda started looking for ways to ensure that the customer stayed engaged in the conversation and design. Wanda turned towards Lucidspark, a place that allowed her to create a common space in her meetings, inviting the client in easily to collaborate with her using a guest collaborator link. Once inside Lucidspark, Wanda engages the customer to actively help her sketch out and understand the current solution and its corresponding pain points. Once she understands the client’s current state, Wanda creates her presentation in Lucidchart just as before, but now does so with more insight into the customer’s real issues and a sketch that can be brought over from Lucidspark. 

During her presentations, Wanda’s customers typically have comments and adjustments that they’d like to consider. She exports her Lucidchart presentation directly into Lucidspark (think projecting a diagram onto a physical whiteboard – magic), where her guests once again join her and enthusiastically mark up these areas of improvement on one visual. Thanks to Lucidspark and its integration with Lucidchart, Wanda has seen a much smoother experience for herself and happy, engaged customers.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to tailor the Lucid Visual Collaboration Suite to support specific activities. How do you use our tools in unique ways?

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