SmartDraw: An Entrepreneur’s Secret to Success

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Building and maintaining a successful business from the ground up isn’t easy.  For entrepreneurs who make it, the difference between giving up and persisting can be a matter of having the right tools and knowing how to use them.

In this week’s post, we’ll hear from Lesley Cowan, Director of Lesley J. Cowan Professional Services, based in New South Wales, Australia.  We’ll discover SmartDraw’s role in her continued success as an entrepreneur.

Can you tell us about the work that you do?

I deliver business solutions in the areas of procurement to governments, both Commonwealth and State.  With a strong background of legal practice, communications, and project management, I continually assess and adjusts my business practices to reflect the changing client environments enabling me to learn and evolve as a practitioner.

My prime customer, at the moment, asked me to set up all of their management systems – quality assurance, safety, and environmental. I write all of their policies. I do all their legal work and I also maintain all their systems and train people in their operations.

Why did you select SmartDraw?

SmartDraw, well, I had never heard of before. But it was an economical tool to use for the company because they didn’t have great amounts of money to spend on software.  I’ve used MindManager, in my legal work, where I was devising complex contracts for Defense.  It actually helped me organize my requirements and flow them down to other sub-contracts.  I’d use flowcharting in doing policy writing. And I was quite amazed to find that SmartDraw did both and they did them well.

You mentioned that it’s a powerful tool for small companies.  Can you elaborate?

“First of all, it’s economical.  Secondly, it’s multifaceted.  I’ve managed to do some pretty complex things with it.”

Secret #1: Create Resource Management System Diagrams to Organize Information


I have a quality assurance website which is a quite a good way of putting our current versions of our quality files, procedures, and forms for everybody to be able to access.  Because normally, you would put paper copies out.  It gets lost and it’s hard to keep current.  It’s been fantastic.

Secret #2: Flowchart to Increase Understanding of How Everything Relates

“I flowchart everything. That way you can see how it interfaces with everything else.  I find the flowcharting function I do use constantly.”

Secret #3: Mind Map to Breakdown Ideas Into Components

“I use the Mind Map function quite often to breakdown ideas that I have into components because I can also download it into an outline format.  So, it helps me manage ideas.  And I find that quite useful.”


Secret #4: Maintain Org Charts to Reflect Organizational Change

I also use the organization chart facility.  In order to keep current in your quality system and to show what your organization is all about, you have to change the organization chart to reflect the change.


Secret #5: Share Information By Inserting Diagrams into Documents or Emails

We share our organizational charts in several ways.  Number one, our current chart is on our QA website so people can print it out, in pdf version, off of the website if they need it. The other thing we do is in all of our tender writing, we can implant them as a pdf insert them or Windows metafile and just insert them into a document I’m writing.  We send them in emails. You can implant them or attach them to your emails.

How would you describe SmartDraw?

“It’s a great tool for a small company who wants to achieve big things.”

Mainly because it’s versatile.  You’ve got a lot of templates to draw from and you can be innovative and creative with it.  Whilst I really like different things about different programs, this one accomplishes many things.

What advice do your have for future SmartDraw Users?

“I’ve been using it for over 5 years now. I’m still learning new ways to use it.  I have become really obsessed with what I do with it.  It’s a very good tool.”