Steven Aguilar wanted an upgrade from the organizational charting tool available in his company's human resource information system (HRIS), so he went searching for an alternative. Aguilar, HR operations and total rewards leader for Blend, a banking company in San Francisco, sought more user-friendly and versatile software that not only would give him a real-time view of employee and contingent worker headcount but also would spur collaboration.
Aguilar chose a stand-alone solution from Sift that represents a new breed of organizational charting software—one that automates changes, offers more information, and includes contingent and hybrid workers.
"The software has been particularly helpful in the remote-working environment," Aguilar said, citing its automatic updates that pull data from multiple systems and ability to track employee turnover, new hires and transfers. "The employee directory also helped remote employees connect to one another and allows them to share skills and interests within the system."
Organizational Charting Software Comes of Age
Organizational charting is essential to ensuring companies have the right number of people with the right skills in the right roles. Creating such charts has grown more challenging as leaders need to account for a growing number of contingent workers as well as new hybrid-work structures.
With workforce data housed in disparate HRIS or enterprise resource planning systems, getting a real-time view of a distributed workforce is no easy task. HR leaders historically have manually created organizational charts with software like PowerPoint, a time-consuming process that's difficult to keep up-to-date amid ongoing staff changes.
Newer versions of organizational charting software address many of these challenges, and some also encourage collaboration and communication via employee directories. Integrations with HR and IT systems now can automatically build organizational charts, and experts say more software providers have adopted consumer-design principles, making it easier for HR leaders to update and manage the charts with little or no support from IT.
Searchable profiles in directories help employees find co-workers by name, department, office location, skills, subject matter expertise, interests and more.
"It allows employees to carry the whole company in their pocket," said Bill Boebel, founder and CEO of Pingboard, a provider of organizational charting software in Austin, Texas.
Employee profiles typically include e-mail addresses, cellphone numbers and Slack handles but also can be customized to reflect organizational cultures. On Pingboard, for example, adding fields like "what I'm watching" or "favorite band" help connect employees and add transparency to the workplace, Boebel said.
Organizational charting software from provider Organimi enables employees to filter profiles by department or job title to get a better understanding of who works where, a feature that can be particularly helpful for new hires.
"COVID-19 brought home a real issue all organizations will face going forward, which is figuring how to provide the right technologies for a mix of full-time employees and contractors who'll be working in remote and hybrid structures," said Eric Apps, co-founder and CEO of Organimi. "Helping employees understand how they fit in, what the team looks like and how everyone else in the company works together is increasingly important."
Pricing for the software typically works on an annual or monthly basis with fees tied to the number of users. Pingboard's team plan, for example, charges $99 per month for up to 50 users.
Additional Software Features
More-robust organizational charting software also can include scenario planning tools that create visual representations of how the company will change in the advent of an acquisition, an office closure or a reorganization.
HR leaders typically can configure the software to share as much information as they want about the organization and post it to a company intranet or website. Distributing organizational chart and employee directory data in that manner also serves the additional purpose of being able to correct any inaccuracies like job titles, reporting relationships or employees who have left the company as workers review the information.
Most software applications also are designed to integrate with HR and IT platforms through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs.) Organimi, for example, has an API available to IT departments to make it easier for them to partner with HR functions.
Some organizational charting software, such as Pingboard, also have begun to include basic versions of engagement tools like peer recognition, shared vacation calendars and employee milestone celebrations.
Dave Zielinski is a freelance writer and editor in Minneapolis.