Yes true, I think the best are live face-to-face workshops with good interaction, looking all participants in the eyes and big brown papers on the wall. But, in these times of social distancing, it is neither possible nor wanted to have a live workshop. Also from a travelling cost point of view or busy agenda scheduling reasons, why bring all people from different locations together in one place? We have gained some very good experiences with remote workshops using Lucidchart.
Lucidchart is cloud-based drawing tool. A visual workspace for creating diagrams, visualizing processes with great collaboration possibilities. You can create diagrams of ideas, information and processes together with your team to get a better understanding and make better decisions.
We were looking for a remote workshop solution that met the following criteria:
Working in teams, also simultaneously
We were looking for a solution to brainstorm, to create flows, to drag and drop with remote teams working together simultaneously on a whiteboard regardless of device and location. Lucidchart offers us all of this. It is very easy to collaborate in one single document looking at the single source of truth, without having to deal with versioning issues using a great variety of shapes and sticky notes for ideas or questions. Together with Microsoft Teams it is also possible to work in sub-teams with break out rooms. You can open a workshop together in one team and then split-up in sub-teams working in different tab pages in a Lucidchart document. Afterwards the results can be discussed again, together with the complete team.
The tool we wanted should offer templates for process flows (also with BPMN), mind mapping, customer journey mapping, blueprinting and organisational charts. We found out Lucidchart has a great number of standard templates and much, much more than we were looking for.
You can also create your own templates in your own house style with formatting, fonts and colours. As SAP Partner we use SAP Scenes for storyboarding workshops and for that we created our own Scenes template and imported all Scenes shapes in Lucidchart.
We are using Microsoft Teams for chat, video conferencing and document sharing and JIRA & Confluence for project planning and documentation. It is easy to add a Lucidchart in your Team on Microsoft Teams and discuss, share and collaborate on this document. Lucidchart integrates with Atlassian. Embed diagrams in Confluence wikis or Jira issues to add visual clarity to text. Other standard integrations are Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, Google Docs, Drive and Sheets, Slack and GitHub. Lucidchart can also easily import and edit Visio files, or create new Visio documents.
Lucidchart is a very intuitive, easy to use tool with clearly arranged screens, easy navigation and nice drag and drop possibilities.
A Lucidchart instruction at the start of your workshop can be short (savvy users) or slightly longer. Check in advance what group you have in front of you. We have prepared a small demo with a do-it-yourself script to get a feeling with the tool, but really you can quickly move on to the real stuff.
Administration and documentation
Lucidchart is an easy tool to maintain. When we bought a Lucidchart Enterprise account we received a welcome mail with 3 steps for onboarding. Rather self-explaining but also all clearly supported with nice short instruction videos. It is easy to create individual users or to import a group of users. Licensing is flexible. You have free view-only users who can only comment and view documents that have been shared with them. A license can be temporarily granted to a user who should be able to create and maintain documents. At the end of a project the license can be withdrawn from this user and granted to another user from a new project. So, not all users need a license. Groups can be setup to share documents within these groups without being visible to others.
Finally, with remote workshops don’t forget:
- Prepare what you want to do, how long each workshop element will last and how you want to show it visually. Dry-run this in advance. Actually no difference with live face-to-face workshops.
- Do not share the document too early with the participants. Half an hour in advance or at the start of the workshop is fine.
- Make use of the tab pages in the Lucidchart document so you can drive the sequence of the workshop topics (e.g. intro, demo instruction, practice, diagram 1, ….. diagram x, wrap-up).
- Prepare a small demo instruction with a do-it-yourself script so participants will get a feeling with the tool.
- Use Microsoft Teams to work in sub-teams with break out rooms. Dry-run this in advance as well.
- Apply the right company look and feel in your document, so that it is recognizable for the participants.
Enthusiastic after reading this blog and want to experience Lucidchart yourself? Please visit https://www.lucidchart.com and register for a free trial account.