CS Odessa, the creators of ConceptDraw, the business process diagramming software, has released an update to its PRO software. The upgraded version integrates with ConceptDraw’s Office software suite to let users better plan their projects using its visual interface.

If you’ve ever been a fan of whiteboarding and sketching out your ideas, ConceptDraw pines to be the solution for you. According to CS Odessa, by using ConceptDraw PRO, project managers can create mind maps and diagrams to share information and their logic in a similar manner.

Features that come with the PRO version include being able to hyperlink to documents and Web pages along with adding in relevant information into a single workflow. The software also generates reports and Gantt charts similar to what people might be accustomed to through Microsoft Project and Visio.

ConceptDraw PRO offers up integration with several other ConceptDraw services, including MINDMAP and PROJECT. MINDMAP is a tool intended to help organize ideas and data that can be used for brainstorming, project planning, and more — perhaps a mixture of Microsoft Project, Visio, and Office all in one. PROJECT, on the other hand, specializes specifically in project management. Obviously there’s some overlapping features.

Additional upgrades to ConceptDraw PRO include a snap-to-grid feature and a Smart Connectors capability that will automatically detect and avoid any obstacles in a user’s workflow or mind map.

Below is an example of a mind map that ConceptDraw PRO produces:

ConceptDraw PRO LAN Fault Tolerance System 730x565 ConceptDraw’s flowcharting suite gets upgraded with better project handling, organization, and more

It’s pretty obvious that much of the service is pretty similar to Visio, but that does not appear to have diminished sales. The company tells us that there have been 1.9 million downloads of its ConceptDraw suite of products so far. Differentiating the ConceptDraw suite from Microsoft’s offerings is largely a matter of price — $199 versus $589.99 — and its ability to work on both Mac and PC platforms.

Olin Reams, the company’s General Manager, says that the new ConceptDraw PRO software is now “more intuitive and efficient” and will work based on the way a user would think about the design process. The thought is that project managers shouldn’t need to be burdened with the design, but rather the way a project is supposed to flow and be managed.

ConceptDraw PRO is currently available with a 21-day free trial.

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