Visio Use at Microsoft: Business Process Management Automation

Visio's “visualize information” mantra applies to many different customer scenarios. In the next several blog entries, I’m going to focus on several different uses of Visio within Microsoft. I’ll show screen shots where I can (e.g., I don’t have to scrub confidential data). Hold off on questions about how all of this is implemented if you can – we’re in the process of putting together a more detailed description for developers on the IT showcase on

The Field Services IT organization that supports our Microsoft Consulting Services branch has developed a smart client solution is called “Services Business Process Manangement” (SBPM) that leverages Visio Pro 2003 and SharePoint. The solution is a process documentation tool used by several services, marketing and sales orgs to document and share business processes. The app has been in production at Microsoft for several months.


The smart client portion (based on WinForms, Web Services, and the .NET Framework 1.1) uses the Visio 2003 ActiveX control within a Winform to document the process. The app has a custom set of shapes. The user drags and drops the shapes to the page. The app recognizes the shape dropped and prompts the user for more information about the type of process. Here’s what the process designer winform looks like.


Once the process is documented and automatically validated by the application, the next step is to publish the process to a SharePoint site. The relevant users are notified through SharePoint roles.

This application also lives on the extranet for consumption by partners. Partners access the Visio diagram of the process via the Visio Viewer (which doesn't require the Visio application to be installed) in the browser.


It would be great to hear if there are others out there who have done a similar corporate solution, or if there are similar scenarios that could benefit from an application like this.

-- Mai-lan