JMB Communications of Plymouth, Massachusetts (www.jmbcommunications.com), provides marketing communications, public relations, and website creation services to a diverse clientele including high technology, financial, scientific, hospitality, and other B2C and B2B businesses worldwide.
Founder Jeff Berger decided a few years ago that he wanted most of his employees to have weekends off, so he set a policy under which "rush" projects were charged double and "weekend rush" projects were charged triple the normal rates.
Nonetheless, early on a June Friday morning, a long-time JMB client called Berger to ask for a PowerPoint® presentation to be completed that weekend. The project was for a major corporate fund-raising initiative and included several complex flow charts.
"We have 6 x 8 foot papers with multicolored hand written Post-It notes all over them," the client said, "and we need you to create nice-looking flow charts based on the papers, and incorporate them into PowerPoints®. And we also need slides to explain the charts…and we have to have everything by Sunday night," the client said.
The papers were in the client's car in another state, and the client and Jeff could not see each other until late Saturday afternoon. Nonetheless, Berger agreed to the project, and they met Saturday afternoon in front of the Plymouth, Massachusetts, Tourist Information Center. There they laid out the charts-in 30 mph winds. "I had to sit on one end while he held the other so the things didn't all blow away," Berger recounts.
"The charts themselves blew me away," said Berger. "They showed complex factors affecting the ability of a certain species of wild bird to survive, among other things. There was no way to do them intelligibly in PowerPoint."
Berger carefully folded the charts, and went straight to his office to run a search on Google. He knew that he needed software to quickly re-create the flowcharts, with professional results.
"I had three criteria," he recounts. "First, I didn't want Visio®. My experience with Microsoft® has been less than stellar and that was that. Second, whatever I bought had to be truly intuitive since with these deadlines I had no time to learn, I only had time to do. And last, it had to look great. I had a lot of writing to do. I knew what result I wanted and I had zero time to fight with an unfamiliar product to get there."
Berger was immediately impressed with what he saw on the SmartDraw website. "Everything pointed to this being precisely what I needed," he said. He bought the software outright, downloaded it, and started working. "I hardly ever read instructions anyway," he says; "I'm one of those." But within 10 minutes, he says, "it was obvious that I could duplicate the colors and shapes and positioning of the Post-It notes, and I could add and move arrows very easily."
Berger found that SmartDraw makes easy work out of any business chart or diagram. The program included more than 20,000 images, and hundreds of professionally-designed SmartTemplates, which come pre-loaded with a command-set specific to each diagram type. In addition, charts created in SmartDraw can be exported to PowerPoint®, PDF, and more.
Berger saved the charts into his PowerPoint® presentation Sunday morning. He also saved the charts as Adobe Acrobat PDFs so his client could print them out in color on 8 1/2 x 11 paper and distribute them to the audience to ensure their ability to study all the details.
"I was delighted with SmartDraw," Berger says. "It did everything I asked it to and it was a thing of elegant simplicity."
Another aspect of JMB Communications' business is website creation. "SmartDraw is perfect for illustrating the interrelationships of different parts of complex sites, and it will be a huge help to us in visualizing content for proposed client sites. We see it as a substantial asset not only to our chart creation work for PowerPoints® and other client projects, but also to our own website visualization sales presentations."