Process visualization tools have become instrumental in various industries, from IT to marketing, for simplifying complex ideas, charting workflows, and fostering team collaboration.
Let's delve into the comparison of four major tools: Visio, Lucidchart, Miro and Qlerify. All of them are powerful process diagramming tools with robust features, but they cater to different user bases and offer varied functionalities.
Visio is a long-standing favorite for process diagramming and supports the BPMN notation for process maps. Visio is primarily a Windows-based application, though there's a web version for basic editing. Mobile version is available for viewing but not for editing.
Collaboration is possible, especially with Visio for the web, but it's not as fluid as other tools.
Real-time collaboration is limited, with more focus on sharing finished diagrams as pdf files. The drawing in Visio can be quite slow and does not support a collaborative setting with many real-time contributors. The typical use case is that a business analyst, process manager or similar role does all the drawing in Visio on his own. The process diagrams are then converted to pdf files and stored on Sharepoint or emailed to other stake holders.
One key strength of Visio is its strong data linking capabilities, allowing dynamic visualization tied to live data. Data can be imported from Excel, SQL, and other data sources.
Another strength is extensive customization options for creating tailored stencils, templates, and shapes. Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) support enables automation and scripting.
Visio has a wide variety of built-in templates, primarily catering to business professionals, IT, and engineering. The shape libraries are extensive and users can also create custom shapes. Given its extensive features, beginners might find it a bit challenging and users of Visio are mostly IT professionals such as IT consultants or process modeling professionals.
Visio has seamless integration with other Microsoft products like SharePoint, OneDrive and Power Automate and it supports embedding and linking within Microsoft Office documents. A weakness is that Visio is heavily tied to the Windows environment, limiting macOS and Linux users.
Visio offers paid user licenses (one time fee) and monthly subscription plans based on no of users. There are two paid license versions: Standard and Professional. Visio also offers two monthly subscription plans. Many users consider the Professional version to be too expensive in comparison with similar tools. Licensing cost is separate from the Microsoft 365 subscription.
Qlerify has a very different approach compared to Miro, Visio and Lucidchart. The main focus is to enable an extremely high process and data modeling speed that allows for real-time visualization of complex business process discussions spanning over several silo boundaries and with many co-creating participants. The modeling speed is made possible through smart algorithms that fully automate the placement and connections of the symbols on the canvas. Complex real-time visualization in large meetings is not possible with other process diagramming tools since they are all based on slow and manual positioning and connections of shapes.
Another approach that is very different from Lucidchart, Miro and Visio is the support for powerful agile tools, such as User Story Mapping, Product Backlogs, Event Storming and Agile Data Modeling.
Similar to Lucidchart and Miro, Qlerify supports real-time collaborative editing. It is built for team settings, offering simultaneous editing and commenting where many users can work simultaneously in a shared workspace. Features like commenting, voting, content prioritization enhance the collaborative experience. It is designed to be easy to use and multidisciplinary to enable true agile cross-functional collaboration across organizational silo boundaries. Being a cloud-first collaborative solution, Qlerify offers no offline access.
The diagraming part of Qlerify is focused on a few specific types of diagrams that are relevant to designing software systems: Process maps, user journeys and data models. It does not support other diagram types, such as mind maps.
Another unique feature of Qlerify is the ability to connect meta data to process steps in a well-structured way, such as user stories, business rules, KPIs, problems, improvement ideas, lead times, data models, UI sketches, questions, comments or anything else. The meta data is fully configurable and can be gathered into a prioritized product backlog. This unique linking of system requirements to a flowchart provides a valuable visual context for developers. The backlog content can also be split into iterations/releases and visualized through a user story map. This well-structured format is very well adapted to developers’ needs.
Qlerify includes some basic templates but a large amount of templates is not essential since Qlerify’s AI Copilot can generate custom templates in only a few minutes. Qlerify has fewer features than Visio, Miro and Lucidchart due to a more narrow diagramming scope and in order to minimize the learning curve for non-technical users.
Qlerify integrates with Jira Cloud which enables Qlerify backlog content to be transferred to a Jira backog instantly. Qlerify is also deeply integrated with Open AI. This allows users to create process models, meta data and data models extremely fast with Generative AI. Users can also improve existing process models and meta data with generative AI.
Qlerify operates on a freemium model, with all the available features available for free including unlimited storage. However, the amount of customer generated content is limited in the free version. Paid subscription plans are available based on no of seats, no of projects or no of teams.
Qlerify has announced the development of a powerful no code automation extension that enables rapid prototyping with Generative AI. The extension builds on the well-structured models created with the tool. The no code feature can generate executable prototype applications in the cloud. This will enable an unprecedented development iteration speed - executable business applications can be placed in the hands of end users in minutes. Collecting feedback and delivering new iterations will be possible several times per day instead of a few times per month.
Lucidchart is a cloud-based platform, accessible from any device with a web browser. It offers dedicated mobile apps for both iOS and Android, allowing for editing on the go. It caters to a multitude of diagramming needs.
One strength of Lucidchart is that it is designed with real-time collaboration in mind. Users can work simultaneously on a single document. Features like commenting, chat, and in-editor video chat enhance the collaborative experience.
Lucidchart also offers offers data linking but may not be as advanced as Visio in this area. It also provides data visualization features, such as conditional formatting.
While customization is available, it's not as deep as Visio. Lucidchart Automations can be used to streamline processes and approvals.
Lucidchart is designed to be user-friendly with a more intuitive interface and it has a rich online help center, community forums, and tutorial videos.
Lucidchart also supports data visualization: it can visualize live data, making dynamic charts and process diagrams.
Like Visio, Lucidchart offers diverse templates ranging from flowcharts to wireframes and mind maps. Users can create and save custom templates for team use.
Lucidchart is integrated with various platforms including Google Workspace, Atlassian (JIRA, Confluence), Slack, and GitHub and allows direct import/export of documents to Google Drive.
Lucidchart operates on a freemium model with basic features available for free. For access to advanced features, more storage, or premium templates, users must subscribe to one of Lucidchart's paid plans (user based subscription model). The company offers three tiers, catering to individual professionals, teams, and large enterprises. Lucidchart is generally more affordable than Visio, especially for small teams and businesses.
Miro is a visual workspace for innovation that enables distributed teams to come together to synthesize information, clarify complex ideas, and make decisions faster. Miro supports many different diagram types, such as customer journey maps, wireframes, mind maps, flowcharts, BPMN diagrams, UML diagrams and concept maps. However, the more advanced diagramming options such as BPMN and UML diagrams are not included in the free plan.
Just like Lucidchart, Miro is a cloud-based platform, accessible from any device with a web browser.
One unique feature of Miro is its support for free-form activities on an unlimited and zoomable canvas. This makes Miro suitable for brain storming and collaborative business workshops. However, this can also become a problem since the content does not fit into a structure and can result in chaotic mess of randomly positioned sticky notes. This unstructured format can be a challenge when creating instructions to developers.
Miro has an extensive template library, similar to Lucidchart and Visio. Miro also offers user generated templates that are gathered in a community template gallery called Miroverse. In Miroverse, the very best boards of the Miro community, as well as their creators are showcased.
Miro is integrated with 100+ apps, such as Zoom, Slack, Google Drive and Sketch.
Miro operates on a freemium model with basic features available for free. For access to advanced features, users must subscribe to one of two premium plans or an enterprise plan (user based subscription model).
Some users have experienced performance problems, especially with large boards or slower Internet connections.