How to Increase Productivity Using Custom Templates

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What is a Custom Template?

If we look at the most basic definition, a template is the basis of a form.  In short, it is a file that is one step away from completion.  Although you have access to over 70 templates types in SmartDraw, you have the added functionality that enables you to create personal or custom templates that are unique to you and your organization.  You have the ability to create them for yourself or share them with your colleagues.


Every organization strives for efficiency.  The very reason SmartDraw was invented was to enable users to communicate efficiently and effectively.  Custom templates in themselves are efficient as they provide users with a starting point. They also are efficient since there is no need to create the file since it already exists.


An appropriately designed template or set of templates will instill standardization. This result in increased productivity.  Standards are created and enforced by the templates being implemented within a team or organization.  Since the information requested is preset in the template, the business processes related to the completion of the template is predetermined.  The added benefit of a custom template is that it focuses the efforts of the user on company standards and not the individual’s taste.


Through standardization you create an environment of collaboration.  For example, if a project team is expected to provide standard reports and status updates, every member of the team understands what they are accountable for and how their work impacts the team.  If you have a member of the team that is unexpectedly reassigned to another project, the new member can easily transition into the team as they would come with an understanding of the standard expectations of their role.  Ramp up time is minimal, resulting in increased productivity.

Sample of Template Types

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Best Practices When Designing Custom Templates

The best approach to creating a custom template is to start with your end result.  In other words, create the “ideal” version of the template with all the information complete.  From there, you then reverse engineer it into a custom template. Before implementing the custom template, you may also choose to have the select group of users of the template pilot it with a current use case.  This exercise serves two purposes: (1) tests it’s usability of the custom template and (2) increases user buy-in by involving the users in the process.  The pilot group, in turn, becomes advocates for the new custom templates and will hopefully be your early adopters.


1.  SELECT the diagram that will become your template.

Note: You can create a custom template using any of the 70 diagram template types.

2.  CREATE the diagram to be templatized.

Note: Save time and energy from recreating weekly or routine documents by creating personal templates.

3. SELECT the Library Tab.  Then CLICK AND DRAG the diagram into the Library.  CLICK OK.


4.  ENTER the appropriate name of the template in the Symbol Name field.  CLICK OK.

Note: It’s best to provide an intuitive name to your template for easy reference in the future.  As a best practice, leave the Automatic Setting and Change colors defaulted options selected.


1. NAVIGATE to the appropriate template, CLICK the Library Tab.

2. CLICK AND DRAG the Custom Template from the Library into the Work Area.  EDIT as needed.


Note: Custom templates will be found at the bottom of the Library.

CLICK HERE for a pdf of the instructions above: SmartDraw Custom Templates Job Aide