Each month, John Bowman picks a new cool piece of technology that helps Customer Success Managers be more productive. We call it “Apps For Success” and in this review (#13) he takes a closer look at Lucidchart.
This month in Apps for Success we’re going to focus on building your processes and working to optimize your team. We are going to talk Lucidchart, an easy and intuitive diagram making app that will help you better visualize your processes.
In the book Principles, Ray Dalio (Founder and CEO of the world’s largest hedge fund) posits that an organization is a machine. It takes your goals as input and outputs your desired outcome. Every machine is made up of your design and your people. The people part is self explanatory. The design part is how you go about trying to achieve your desired outcome. Your machine is your team and your design of how they work. That's why he says the best managers are engineers - engineers are adept at building machines.
This week, we are going to review a tool to help you work on the design of your machine to help your team to help your organization achieve its desired outcome: Lucidchart.
Your design is how your team or organization works. It's the checklists, procedures and processes you employ to work well together toward your overall goal.
Typically, the goal for your Customer Success Machine should be to help your customers achieve their desired outcomes.
You do that by delivering the appropriate experience at the right time. This enables your customers to derive value from your product and thus continue your relationship.
Therefore, your machine should be focusing on how you plan to deliver the appropriate experience at the right time.
That’s where Lucidchart comes in. Lucidchart helps you to visualize the processes and procedures you follow to get the customer to their end desired outcomes.
In the manuals we build for my teams, there are 2 rules:
There must a process diagram for every process
There must be a checklist for every process
The checklists are a topic for another post but we mandate the need for process diagrams for a couple of reasons:
Creating a process diagram forces you to visualize each step from start to finish
Some people are visual learners and we want to make our processes as easily digestible as possible
Visualizing each step identifies redundancies and missed steps resulting in a clearer picture of what to do. And, according to Andy Grove in High Output Management, your job as a manager is to motivate and train your employees. Clear process diagrams help you train your employees.
To cover all of our bases, we do both. But, even just having a process diagram will greatly reduce confusion on your team as well as help you to make sure your machine is helping the customer to their end desired outcome.
[Standard disclaimer here. I own no part of any of the apps for Customer Success Managers I’ll be reviewing in this column. The opinions contained in this review are mine and mine alone. SuccessHACKER is kind enough to lend me their microphone. If you happen to disagree, leave a comment and let me know! I love a good spirited debate.]
On to the app.
What do you like best?
I love that this app is dedicated only to process diagrams. Having one place to go when I need to create or review a processes is amazing.
Far too often as organizations, we don’t do a good enough job staying organized. Having a process mapping software like Lucidchart forces you to have everything in one place. True, you can make it messy, but at least it will contain the mess in one place!
Building on that note, it uses the standard file and folder system and stores all of my data in the cloud. This lets me share process diagrams with people who are not users of Lucidchart and access my data from anywhere.
These features could be considered table stakes but I think that having a highly-organized filing system dedicated only to process diagrams accessible from anywhere in the world, on any computer is worth calling out.
Next, I love the breath of possible diagrams you can do. They have best practice articles on flow charts, floor plans, organization charts, wireframes for apps - the list goes on. Basically, if you need a line drawing of some kind, you can accomplish it with Lucidchart.
My primary use case is for flow charts and process diagrams and Lucidchart handles those extremely well. The smoothness with which you can create a diagram means you can spin up a process on the fly in less than 5 minutes.
It’s this ease of use that really sets Lucidchart apart from something like Google Drawings.
And, speaking of Google, Lucidchart will also integrate with your Google Drive account to store your diagrams there!
What do you dislike?
I dislike that Lucidchart has a bit of a learning curve. If you don’t spend some time learning the software, you will do things the hard way. Don’t worry, there is a huge Knowledge Base to help you and a whole training program. But you really need to spend about 30 minutes to understand the program well.
I also don’t like that it’s a paid service. I know, I know, I should be willing to pay for something I value. And I do pay for it. Their free tier only allows you to have 3 process diagrams.
Finally, I dislike that Lucidchart’s support team can take some time getting back to you. I wasn’t able to find a phone number to call on their site - they seem to be all asynchronous. That’s not the best in my opinion for getting problems solved quickly.
What business problems does the product solve? What benefits have you realized?
Lucidchart is an easy-to-use and fast way to document your processes and build your machine.
The only way you can improve your team’s output is by spending the time to break down current processes and find ways to improve them. Lucidchart helps you to visualize those processes, lowering the bar to understanding and team training. It also allows for quick and easy process creation on the fly.
I love Lucidchart! If you need an app to help you create processes or flow chart, definitely give it a shot. We didn’t even scratch the surface of the cooperative features of Lucidchart in this review, but it would be a great tool to help you and your team create improve your machines.
About the Author
John Bowman, Esq., is the Director of Customer Success at Jetpack Workflow. He is a rising star in the Customer Success community, leading the The Pittsburgh Customer Success Meetup and the Pittsburgh Gainsight Pulse chapter, as well as moderating the Customer Success Subreddit. John utilizes his 10+ years of professional experience to focus organizations on one goal: the customer's desired outcome.