Why Microsoft Visio?

more than just save time or eliminate tedious work: It leaves the engineer free to think about the important part of the drawing, the control scheme and operations critical to safety ... This is where we want to focus our attention.

Sargent & Lundy, Microsoft Technet Case Study

Microsoft Visio For many companies, the ability to create and manage technical drawings efficiently is often critical in their plans to become competitive, and have a direct impact on the company's bottom line. Surprisingly, many companies are still using inefficient and costly methods, While typically a new generation of Windows business applications has been implemented, technical drawing software has often lagged behind. The results is higher support costs, lower productivity and drawings that are only accessible to a few people in the organisation. The fact is, technical drawings are an invaluable resource, and should be accessible to every desktop on your organisation.

Cut the amount of time design engineers spend generating drawings and they could spend more time working with customers. That's what Johnson Controls Inc. had in mind when it began searching for a viable, simpler alternative to its CAD software. More than five years later, the company's search ended with Visio...

Johnson Controls Inc., Microsoft Technet Case Study

The real cost of CAD software.

Electrical CAD Cost Comparison
Electrical CAD cost comparison.
When it comes to software cost, the three most important factors are initial costs, training costs and support costs. Visio offers considerable advantages in all of these key areas, and in many cases, is only one-tenth of the cost of comparable high-end CAD software. Together with Electra, it is only 30% of the initial cost of comparable solutions.

One of the most important and often overlooked cost, is the training required to ensure that the software can be used effectively in the company. Conventional CAD software typically requires specialised training, and can take 3 to 6 months to be productive. In contrast, Visio and Electra, requires a maximum of just a few days. All these translates into increase productivity, with practically negligible training and support costs.

SoftwarePriceAnnual Maintenance
AutoCAD$3995$450
AutoCAD Electrical$5295$595
Visio Standard$299$0
Electra Professional$1298$0
Visio + Electra Professional$1597$0
Visio + Electra Subscription (Paid Yearly)$299$468

We went from 4,000 CAD symbols in our previous CAD package down to 200 Visio SmartShapes symbols. This simplicity is driving a great deal of value. We've reduced our engineering costs significantly ... move to Visio has helped produce savings of 20 to 40 percent in engineering costs and time.

Johnson Controls Inc., Microsoft Technet Case Study

AutoCAD TrainingVisio and Electra Training
Generic AutoCAD training requires minimum 4 days, plus additional days for specific applications. Generic Visio training requires one day, plus another day for Electra.
AutoCAD users require consistent usage to retain their knowledge while casual users often need refresher courses or ongoing support from additional staff to maintain their skills. Visio is so much simpler to learn, users typically retain their Visio knowledge even if they are casual users.
Requires more training for AutoCAD's more complex interface. Inaccessible for the untrained. Interface consistent with Microsoft Office products, instantly familiar to most Office users.

Because of the complexity of their CAD software, it was impossible for many people in the company who could have benefited from using the drawings (such as sales reps) to access them, much less to work with them. It was also hard to integrate CAD drawings into other documents...

Johnson Controls Inc., Microsoft Technet Case Study

Is Visio good enough for electrical CAD?

The following excerpts is reproduced with generous permission from Visimation Inc., founded since 1997 and provider of visual software solutions that helps organizations improve productivity, enhance communications and grow revenue. Do give them a visit at www.visimation.com and www.shapesource.com.

Myth:Fact:
Not precise enoughVisio calculates to 12 decimal places which is precise enough for all but the most demanding uses.
Is just for flow charts and organization chartsVisio is widely used for schematic and detailed technical drawings. It is ideal for objects that are assembled into systems.
Is not for technical drawingsVisio is the most popular software for network and IT diagrams. It is widely used in the HVAC industry with leaders such as Carrier, Johnson Controls, TAC, and Siemens.
Is not compatible with other CAD systemsVisio can import and export CAD files including dxf, dwg and many others.
Is not as widely used as CADVisio has more total users and is very popular for IT, HVAC, Controls, Security, and other layouts of systems.
Does not have layersVisio has layers and can import CAD layers.
Does not support large format plottersVisio does support large plotters and a variety of paper sizes.
Produce simple line drawingsVisio can produce technical drawings with rich graphics suitable for presentations and very realistic drawings of any equipment.
Linking drawings to data requires expensive add-ons or custom applicationsVisio provides tools to link with external data, illustrate those data on drawings and Pivot Diagrams enable users to generate multiple views of the data.
Graphic formatting optionsVisio has more graphic formatting options than CAD.
File formatting optionsVisio can save as XML, SVG, PNG, GIF and a variety of other formats.

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