SmartArt graphics are very useful. As a prior First Sergeant, I have created multiple organizational charts and alert rosters using the “hierarchy” preset SmartArt graphic option. This prevented me from having to create all the associated graphics separately for each entry. It is a very efficient way of creating this type of document and time management was of utmost importance to me at that position.
Another example of my use of SmartArt graphics was the “process” preset. Once upon a time, I was a the Targeting NCO for an Infantry Brigade. It was my job to develop and instruct the brigade leadership on the targeting process being implemented at the time. Starting with the templated “process” preset option I was able to spell out the targeting process in a comprehensive yet comprehendable manner using visual graphics to represent the flow of the process.
One feature that I wish they would fix is the ability to convert text to SmartArt. You can highlight outlines or bulleted text that you have already created and convert them to SmartArt graphics, however the process is too long. For instance, if you have a document with a bulleted list of text that you wish to convert, you have to highlight the entire list, CTRL-X (or right-click, “cut”), and go to the insert SmartArt button, select a SmartArt format, place cursor in the text pane of the SmartArt dialogue box, CTRL V (or right-click, “paste”) your list into the text pane. Another way I used to do it was using PowerPoint. There, you just highlight the list on the PowerPoint slide, right-click it, then select the “convert to SmartArt” option on the context menu. Once it was converted you could copy and paste it into your Word document. I think Microsoft should add the “convert to SmartArt” option on the context menu (right-click menu) in Word like it is on PowerPoint.