Thomas Häger is the managing partner and founder of Heron Consulting, a consulting company focused on operations strategy and supply chain. Heron Consulting has developed the Heron add-in for PowerPoint that includes features that enable users to produce higher quality presentations in a shorter time. Thomas Häger has a long background from Management Consulting with Accenture paired with experience from running Excellence in a corporate context, which forms the basis for the features in the Heron add-in for PowerPoint.
In this conversation, Thomas talks about this add-in.
Geetesh: Thomas, tell us more about your Heron add-in for PowerPoint and what motivated you to create this product?
Thomas: Thanks Geetesh. I have a long background in management consulting, where PowerPoint is one of the key tools to document and present the artifacts of the project. Having a high level of productivity and quality in the slide work is important and that is really what our add-in is about – to improve the everyday productivity for anyone spending time with PowerPoint.
The driver for us to put this tool together is simple – we want a tool that is customized precisely to our needs to be the best possible toolbox in our everyday work. The driver for us to share it with everyone without any cost is also simple. We want this sharing to demonstrate the essence of our company – we team up with our clients to the extent that we share all backstage tools and methodologies without holding back on anything. In the case of this add-in, we even take it to the level that we share it with anyone that wants it (not only with clients).
Geetesh: What are your favorite tools in this add-in, and what have you planned next?
Thomas: That’s a tough one. They are all my babies…
I think the foundational ones are just must-haves, like Agenda pages, Language settings, and Saving/Sending selected slides. The function I find myself using most frequently is Apply Style, which lets you select a few shapes along with your role model shape (last) and all shapes will be given the same format as the role model.
One of the features that saves a lot of time for me is the Process mapping features with Swimlane process map, Align chevrons in Swimlane and move Swimlanes up or down.
If I would pick a favorite, I think it would have to be what we call the Vectorizer. This function allows you to turn any map chart into vectorized shapes. The map charts in PowerPoint are great – but sometimes you just want the shape of a continent or country rather than the chart. With this function, you can just select the map chart and turn it into an editable shape with one click. When we put together the first version of this add-in, we were first pulling together a gallery of maps, but ended up with attribution or copyright concerns. Most vectorized map shapes you find online come with a cost or limited copyright. So, to avoid issues we decided to make a function that can produce vectorized shapes directly from a map chart. Later, we realized that this feature will only work for Microsoft 365 users, so the updated version now includes a premade library of maps (generated with the Vectorizer).
We have many new features in the pipeline for this tool. High on the list is a gallery of premade charts that are cumbersome to create in PowerPoint natively. Things like Gantt chart, bar chart with difference indicators (between bars), and bar chart with CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) line. These are charts that are frequently used in management consulting and that should be easily available. We also have some productivity functions for harmonizing things across several slides as well as splitting and merging tables to separate shapes and other little practical things. And of course, we continuously listen to our user community for input on new development.
It’s been a pleasure Geetesh, I hope your readers will find our add-in useful! Thanks for having me!
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