When it comes to IT best practices, solid documentation is critical. For backup and disaster recovery, thorough documentation is your only guide to getting clients up and running. So, whether you’re using it for DR, network diagrams, or even process workflows, an easy-to-use diagramming tool is an essential part of any IT pro’s toolkit. And while many IT folks have a solution of choice already, there are some compelling reasons to switch to something new.
Here are the top five to consider.
Draw.io is an easy-to-use, cloud-based tool, and even though it’s free, it has many features that rival the most powerful paid platforms. Draw.io makes it easy to store diagrams in Google Drive (it integrates well with Google Apps), OneDrive, or directly to your device.
- Totally free
- Easy Google App integration
- Limited template options
- Graphics are clean but basic
Lucidchart lets unlimited people collaborate in real time on unlimited diagrams. It has plenty of templates, graphics, and easy ways to publish and share your charts. The free trial version has no time limit but does limit the number of shapes you can use and documents you can create.
- Powerful real-time collaboration
- Integration with Google Apps, Confluence, and JIRA
- Free trial has no time limit but has quantity limits
- Hundreds of templates
Creately is another option that has most of the features you’d expect in a diagramming tool. The main unique benefit is the slick, preset themes that make your charts look a little more polished than other options.
- Has most standard features
- Real-time collaboration
- Clean, slick templates and designs
- Free version only allows you to create up to 5 documents
Visio is one of the most well-known solutions for creating workflows and diagrams. As such, it’s one of the most feature-rich options on this list. If you’re serious about creating polished, enterprise-grade diagrams with no compromises, Visio is what you’re looking for.
- Gold standard for diagram creation
- No free version
- Windows-only support
- Cloud and desktop apps
Yes, Microsoft PowerPoint. When it comes to creating simple diagrams and including them in a neat presentation format, PowerPoint is surprisingly effective. It won’t have the complex templates other options have, but for a simple, clean presentation with a lot of icon options, PowerPoint is pretty awesome.
- Not technically for diagramming
- Included in Office 365 suite
- Great for including diagrams as part of presentations
- Decent number of graphics options
- No diagram templates
Not sure which solution is right? Give a few a try. Most offer a free trial so you can test them to see which have the features you need at a price that works for you. And don’t forget that creating documentation comes with a few extra tasks. You’ll want to consider how you’ll control versions of your documents, where you’ll store them, and where you’ll store hard backup copies (especially for DR plans). Maintaining your documents is just as important as creating them, so be sure to develop processes that will ensure that all diagrams are up to date, reliable references.