PowerPoint vs. Blue J Diagramming: Choosing the Best Diagramming Solution for Tax Practitioners

Aug 18, 2022

Whether you’re an accountant, tax attorney, or other tax practitioner, diagramming is an essential part of your work.  Diagrams help you break down, understand, and communicate complex tax scenarios to clients and colleagues alike. 

For decades, PowerPoint has been the typical go-to solution for diagramming among tax practitioners. The problem is that it is far from user-friendly. Tax practitioners are left spending hours using a tool not intended for their work. 

For those frustrated with PowerPoint, it’s time to make the switch to a better, modern diagramming solution – one that is considerably faster, easier to use and looks professional. So let’s take a look at how Blue J Diagramming compares to PowerPoint. 

For a quick look at how the two solutions stack up, check out this side-by-side comparison video. You can see how much slower and more tedious PowerPoint is next to Blue J Diagramming – the diagramming tool designed for tax practitioners.

For a closer look at Blue J Diagramming and what makes it the best diagramming solution for tax practitioners, keep reading.

 

The Problem with PowerPoint Diagrams for Tax Practitioners

Microsoft PowerPoint was initially released in 1987 for professionals to share important information with their audience through different visual aids such as graphs, pictures, and text boxes. It was never designed for tax diagramming and its specific nuances. While the platform has evolved over the years, and allows for impressive presentation designs, little has changed on the diagramming front. PowerPoint remains a bland and noticeably outdated diagramming experience, making it difficult for tax practitioners to visualize tax scenarios quickly and effectively. 

PowerPoint has three limiting factors that make it particularly frustrating for tax practitioners. PowerPoint’s canvas size is restrictive; its generic and unspecified shapes, labels and overall interface for diagramming leads to hours of tedious, manual effort; and a lack of visual flair leaves complex diagrams looking dated and dull. 

1. A limiting canvas for complex diagrams

One of the roadblocks tax practitioners encounter with PowerPoint is the size constraint posed by the “slides” feature. Tax practitioners often receive critical information and documents from their clients on a continuous basis. This entails that diagrams often have to get expanded and modified as more information trickles in. Nevertheless, due to the constraint of the slide, practitioners often find themselves needing to re-do the entire diagram (multiple times!) given they are unable to expand on it on the same slide. By the same token, if the tax scenario is complex and lengthy from its inception, making it work in one slide is a frustrating and time-consuming problem. 

2. A generic user interface that leads to hours of extra time and effort

The generic and unspecified shapes and labels of PowerPoint detract practitioners’ attention from substantial matters regarding the tax issues at hand in favor of stylistic ones. A significant amount of hours is then spent figuring out the best way to conceptualize entities, transactions, and relationships. That is time and resources that could be focused on spotting the tax consequences of the scenario at issue. Plus, given the number of options when it comes to labels, shapes, and colors, quality and consistency across tax practitioners becomes more difficult to maintain. 

3. Outdated diagram designs hurt your brand

PowerPoint diagrams require a lot of time and effort to look professional and visually engaging. The last thing any tax practitioner wants to do is waste valuable time making a complex diagram also look good. 

As tools for communicating complexity, diagrams should be bold, clear, and attractive. While PowerPoint is an excellent tool for creating professional-looking presentations, it is frustrating to create equally attractive diagrams. The number of hours needed to format diagrams to achieve their purpose and look professional takes away from time that could be spent on valuable, substantive work. 

Now let’s take a look at what makes Blue J Diagramming the better option.

 

The 4 Benefits of Blue J Diagramming for Tax Practitioners

The biggest difference between PowerPoint and Blue J Diagramming is that the latter was designed for tax practitioners, by tax practitioners. Blue J Diagramming streamlines the creation of diagrams by implementing an infinite canvas, industry-standard shapes, labels, and data fields. It allows tax teams to standardize their diagramming work and collaborate with one another. It is also a complete tax research tool, allowing tax practitioners to build diagrams, compile research, and pull together their analysis in one place. 

1. Quickly create complex diagrams

Blue J Diagramming is intended for tax scenarios that can get complex and lengthy. That’s why it uses an infinite canvas to draw and continue expanding on as many entity-and-relationships diagrams as necessary. It also makes it easy to move entities and relationships around by allowing the user to drag an entity around the canvas without losing the visual relationships already established.

2. Standardize diagram designs

To provide consistency and standardization, Blue J Diagramming offers drag and drop shapes that follow US and Canadian tax practice standards and norms. The menu includes the type of entity the shape represents so that it’s clear which entity to be used in any given instance. Entity colors, as well as relationship lines, are also distinct to help with reading and standardizing your diagrams. Additionally, the ability to curve lines and choose colors to color-code transactions, relationships and entities, elevates the diagram design. 

3. Seamlessly collaborate with colleagues

For even faster turnarounds, Blue J Diagramming offers the ability to review, revise, and share diagrams. Add colleagues, leave notes, and make changes directly in the product before a single download or email gets sent. Finally, tax practitioners can download their diagrams either as an image or PDF file and share them with their team and clients. 

4. A complete tax research platform

Finally, unlike PowerPoint and any other diagramming tool, Blue J Diagramming has the added benefit of including an entire suite of tax research solutions in Blue J. How does this help? 

Tax practitioners can reference and annotate statutes and regulations while drawing their diagrams without having to toggle between different tools or switch between browser tabs. They can access diagram examples in Blue J Folios (resource bundles on various tax issues) to use as starting points. Tax practitioners can also assess risk and optimize outcomes for clients using Blue J Predictions, and reflect these findings in the diagrams that they are working on. 

These powerful tax research tools that complement Blue J Diagramming optimize the tax practitioner’s entire workflow. PowerPoint simply doesn’t compare.  

Tired of PowerPoint? Check out Blue J Diagramming for yourself. Get in touch today.