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Present better, design better, perform better: Leveraging your assets in new ways for the New Year

So your team has invested in D-Tools and also in Microsoft’s Visio software.  Now what?

Good question.  While this certainly opens the door into the world of system design, it can also enhance your sales presentations, thereby increasing your sales team’s knowledge as well as increasing your client’s understanding of the details of any proposal they receive from your team.

Let’s talk details of how this can work:


This is something of a given when working with software like Visio, but within the SI interface, there are some interesting applications and executables that not all users (especially new ones) are aware of unless they’ve gone through some of our Professional Services Group training sessions.

Cloning of Projects and the creation of Projects from templates –

                Both of these are great options to keep in mind when creating a new project in SI.
                Cloning allows a user to generate a new SI Project from any prior project and includes the ability
                to have the prior Visio drawing come along for the ride as well.
                The “cloning” option can be accessed in the top row of the Project Explorer

Or by “right-clicking” on any Project and selecting “Clone.”  The source project needs to be
checked-out” of course for this process. 

Once the Cloning option is chosen, you can then populate the details of the new SI Project in the Project Cloning Wizard and then also select the appropriate drawing files to accompany the new project.

Imagine being able to have as much as 50-60% (or more) of your next project’s system design drawing complete simply by cloning a prior SI file.  That’s the real benefit here!

Similarly, saving ideal design drawings for future use is another advantage of linking SI 2018 with Visio.  This can be accomplished in a very organized manner by utilizing SI’s Project Templates feature. 

Project Templates give you a range of options by which you can create “standards” to then quickly create future projects, designs, quotes, and proposals.  For example, if you have a great project for a certain application such as a full security and surveillance system, you can save all of that SI Project information along with the Visio design drawing as a new Template from which all future security and/or surveillance projects can be created.

Once any desired SI Project is deemed appropriate to be saved as a Template going forward, you simply “checkout” the Project and click “Template” in Create section of Home tab of the Project Explorer (shown above) or “right-click” to do the same thing.

You’ll then have the opportunity to name, add a description, and attach any prior system design drawing files.  Yet another huge opportunity to have anywhere from 50-60% (or more) of your next system design project completed ahead of time.

Once you have multiple SI Project Templates created, you can then strip elements down for some new projects as well as combine/merge certain Template elements to create larger projects.

Let’s look at two options to accomplish this:

  • Insert drawing pages – this technique will work when you have at least two SI Project system design drawings already created to source from for the new drawing/project.
    You can easily accomplish this by “right-clicking” on any blank drawing page in an open SI attached Visio drawing design file, sliding over to the “D-Tools” area, and then selecting “Insert Drawing Pages.”

From there, you simply click “Browse” to select a prior project’s drawing pages.

Once the prior SI Project is chosen, you will then see that Visio file’s pages listed for inclusion in the new project.

You then simply set the “Options” listed below here and you’re ready to go!

  • Merging SI Projects – this technique allows you to open two separate SI Project files and drag items from one to another. This is as easy as it sounds.  Simply open two projects and place them side by side (dual monitors work very nicely for this) and then highlight the items you need to move from one project to the other.

You’ll then see this pop-up window asking you to make Location and System assignments in the project being updated.

This will quickly enable you to move items between any types of SI Projects, quickly update their location/system values, and then drag them out accordingly to your attached Visio system design drawing. Piece of Cake. 



The notion that “a picture can say a thousand words” has never been more appropriate than when applied to the sales process.  And here’s where SI can be a huge advantage for your sales team.  Even if they don’t have access to Visio or are just not very proficient with it, other team members can very quickly, easily, and accurately put together Line Drawings for sales presentations.

For those who are new to either SI or Visio, let’s take a quick look at how truly easy this Line Drawing creation is:

-First, we simply need to either create a new SI Project or check out an existing one.

-Next, we create a new Visio attached project design file.

-Once the Visio drawing file opens, depending on your skill set within SI, you can either drag items from the Project to the Line drawing page or simply add items to the Line drawing page from your SI Catalog.


No matter your technique, your now well-intended Proposal and Quote presentations will not only include something like this…


but now also this.            


As you can see, the inclusion of a diagram like this for your client presentations can easily help them understand what they possibly can’t glean from a bill of materials list even with a well-crafted scope.

I strongly recommend to teams I work with that they include Visio line drawings with all sales presentations and even work to get their sales staff up to date on how to create (utilizing SI Cloning or Templates) these drawings themselves.  If not though, this process can get very productive discussions started early on in the sales/design process by getting your sales and design/engineering teams engaged in the overall client solution.

This kind of synergy and interaction between in-house team members will then translate over to the client discussions as sales can more effectively communicate the solution that your team can deliver for their client’s project

In closing…

If you aren’t already utilizing SI and Visio to this extent and you aren’t sure about how relevant this might be for your team, then I challenge you to give it a shot for the next month or so and see if your sales and design efforts don’t improve.

Because, hey that’s why we are here.  D-Tools SI linked to MS Visio can be one of your steps to improvement to start this New Year and stay ahead of the competition!