If you are a user of MuchSkills you’ll know that data visualisation is at the core of our philosophy.
For the uninitiated, MuchSkills is a skills visualisation tool for teams and organisations that visualises skills data in an attractive, easily accessible and comprehensible interface. We believe that data must be communicated in such a way that all of us (not just the experts) can understand it effortlessly, spot patterns, trends and outliers.
In keeping with our interest in data visualisation, we want to talk about the importance of visualising organisational charts the right way in this article.
“Is there a right way,” you may wonder?
There is, according to research.
Management professor Lindred Greer posits that her research has shown that it’s not hierarchies that are problematic – but the way they make people feel. Their different shapes and forms influence people’s perceptions of them.
A research article that Greer co-authored in 2019 proposes and empirically demonstrates that people’s “mental representations of the shape hierarchy takes affects its consequences”. The most common mental representations of hierarchy shapes are ladders and pyramids. The study showed that businesses that display organisational hierarchies in the form of a ladder rather than pyramids or triangles experienced worse relationships within internal groups. It also showed that ladder-shaped hierarchies undermined social relationships and group performance as compared to pyramid-shaped hierarchies.
Keeping all this research in mind, and using our own experience in user experience design, we decided to review a few organisational chart softwares and tools that offer organisational charts as a functionality (such as Lattice, which is a performance management tool that has an inbuilt organisational chart).
But before we get to that, we want to talk, very briefly, about organisational charts and their key elements.
What is an organisational chart?
The following definition of an organisational chart is from Investopedia:
“An organizational chart is a diagram that visually conveys a company's internal structure by detailing the roles, responsibilities, and relationships between individuals within an entity. Organizational charts either broadly depict an enterprise company-wide or drill down to a specific department or unit.”
There are three key elements to creating a good org chart, says an in-depth blog published on buffer.com. The three elements are:
In our opinion, there is a critical fourth element, and possibly the most important one: “It should always stay up-to-date”
We have chosen to review the org charts below over several others because they stood out over their competitors. Overall, we have reviewed them on the basis of usability, experience and data visualization.
So without further ado, here we go. (In no order of preference)
Real-time organizational chart software Pingboard is a powerful tool that allows you to see how everyone in an organisation is connected. It has some useful templates but you can also start on a blank canvas. Overall, it does what it says it does and is reasonably customisable.
This is a typical organizational planning software that offers multiple integrations with various HR and IT softwares. The user experience is basic with an outdated design and design experience. As most org chart softwares that we have reviewed in this blog, this one too offers little value to employees and focuses on manager and HR control.
A talent management software, Bizneo offers services beyond just the org chart functionality. Its org chart is similar in many ways to Pingboard’s as the tool is interactive and automated. But the service offering is similar to other org chart services out there.
Lucidchart is a platform that allows its users to collaborate on drawing, revising and sharing charts and diagrams. So though it is not a specific organization chart software, it is a nifty tool that allows you to create different flows and organisation charts. This is the reason why we thought we’d mention it in this list.
Having said that, because it’s not a specific organization chart software, it has practical limitations when it comes to integrating with HR or similar softwares. Boo!
Lattice describes itself as a people and performance management platform. It automatically generates an organisational chart once all employees details have been uploaded. Once generated, however, the organisational chart is pretty static.
MuchSkills is not an org chart software but a strengths and skills visualisation software. It, however, offers an org chart as a functionality. Some of our users have called the MuchSkills org chart an organogram. It is an interactive visualisation showcasing connections between people in an organisation.
Now, the MuchSkills visualisation will only reflect your organisation’s actual hierarchy – be it a ladder or a pyramid. But the way it visualises and displays it regardless of whether it is a ladder or pyramid can have a positive impact on the way your employees perceive your hierarchy because it displays connections and hierarchies based on expertise, skills and areas of ownership; focuses on creating triangles rather than ladders; and is relatively flat.
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive MuchSkills insights directly in your inbox. Don't worry we will respect your inbox