Organizational Structure

All About Org Charts: The Ultimate Guide to Building an Org Chart for Your Company

By Clayton Spangle

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

Your official starter kit to building great org charts. Learn what an organizational chart is, why it's important and the best places to build one.

An organizational chart can help any company grow and mature. In this guide, we’re going to look at:

  1. What an org chart is
  2. How an org chart can help you
  3. How you can create an org chart
  4. What tools will help you get the most out of your org chart

Let’s get started! First things first…

What is an organizational chart?

An org chart is a diagram showing how a company is structured. Specifically, it shows the reporting relationships between employees, teams and departments. Each employee will have their own icon on the chart with their name, headshot and job title. These icons will then be connected by lines, showing how each person fits into the broader organization.

At a glance, an org chart should reveal how a company is organized. You can think of it like a family tree for a business. (Although technically, it doesn’t have to be a business — other entities, such as nonprofits and government agencies, also use org charts.)

Some org charts have deeper features, too. For example, some org chart makers provide detailed profiles that can be accessed by clicking on an employee’s icon. This transforms a simple org chart into a comprehensive staff directory.

What are the most common types of org charts?

Companies can come in all different shapes and sizes — and so can their org charts. Here are three of the most common types of org charts.

1. Hierarchical org charts

Most org charts are hierarchical since this is the standard structure for a company. Hierarchical org charts represent the various levels of responsibility within a company, from the CEO all the way down to the interns.

2. Flat org charts

Flat org charts, sometimes called horizontal org charts, are used by organizations that don’t have much middle management. There may still be a hierarchy of sorts, but typically with only two levels. In other cases, the company may be owned and operated by a team of equal partners, rendering hierarchy unnecessary.

Regardless, team members will usually fill multiple roles, with everyone having a greater involvement in decision-making. This type of org chart is most common for small businesses, law firms and startups.

3. Matrix org charts

Matrix org charts are meant for companies with an unusually complex structure. The most common example of this is a company with employees who work in several teams under multiple managers. This will be difficult to represent in a standard hierarchical org chart, making a matrix org chart more practical.

Why do companies need an org chart?

Now that we’ve gone over what an org chart is and how it might be structured, you may be wondering why you should care. How can an org chart help you or your company? In quite a few different ways, as it happens. Here are some of the highlights.

1. Hiring

The most talented employees have options — and they know it. When every company wants to hire someone, they can afford to be picky. By providing an org chart for job seekers to review, you can help your company stand out from the crowd. Interested candidates will be able to see:

  • How your company is structured
  • Who they would be working with
  • Who they would report to

Plus, you’d be demonstrating your commitment to transparency right from the start.

2. Onboarding

Starting a new job is often overwhelming. Learning the ropes can be a real challenge, and keeping track of a host of new coworkers certainly doesn’t help. Org charts can help with this by giving employees a staff directory they can use to:

  • Connect faces and names
  • Learn more about their colleagues
  • Understand the layout of their team and department
  • See who they should contact with a question or concern

Not only will this make the onboarding stage easier for employees, but it will also allow them to ramp up to full productivity much faster.

3. Boosting productivity

New hires aren’t the only employees who can benefit from an org chart. Having an easily accessible company directory will improve anyone’s job. For example, org charts prevent the information gaps and workflow bottlenecks that often form in an organization.

Let’s say someone in the marketing department needs to clarify the details of a product for an upcoming marketing campaign. Who should they talk to? In some companies, an employee could lose a day trying to track the right person down.

With an org chart, they’ll have every department and team at their fingertips. They can find exactly who they’re looking for in a jiffy. And because most employee icons usually include contact information, they can reach out to the right person right away, possibly saving the company hours of wasted time.

4. Team building

As mentioned above, some org charts let companies create detailed employee profiles. These profiles often feature personal information, such as their:

  • Bio
  • Work history
  • Education
  • Personal interests
  • Pets
  • Favorite movie or musician

There’s no reason an org chart has to be all business! These pieces of information can go a long way to fostering deeper connections among coworkers. In some cases, your org chart can become a kind of internal social media platform for your teams.

5. Improving company culture

Culture is a commonly overlooked but immensely important aspect of long-term growth. A company built on a toxic culture won’t last long. Org charts can reduce the threat of that toxicity by forcing businesses to confront how their company is structured and what unintentional biases may be contributing to that structure. This transparency can lead to a more diverse and equitable company culture.

6. Optimizing resource efficiency

An org chart can also reveal how a company could use its personnel more efficiently. For example, at a glance, an org chart can show you which departments are under- or over-staffed. Alternatively, you may spot employees serving in a role that limits their potential.

7. Managing remote teams

Companies around the world have embraced remote work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has opened new doors for rapid growth, but also presents fresh challenges. Encouraging unity and collaboration among your remote teams is much harder than it would be in a traditional office.

An org chart solves this problem by helping remote workers:

Connect and communicate with their team Gain a sense of belonging within the organization See how their work is contributing to the growth of the company

8. Attracting investors

Every benefit we’ve listed so far will also make your company more enticing to investors. Anyone interested in backing a company will be thrilled to see:

  • Top talent employees
  • Strong teams
  • High levels of productivity and efficiency
  • A healthy company culture

And above all, the transparency of the company will give investors a reason to trust you and invest with peace of mind.

9. Restructuring

When the time comes to restructure your company completely — possible through a merger or acquisition — an org chart makes it easier to plan out the new shape of the business. If your company is purchased by another company, they can use your chart to determine how your staff could fit into the new organizational structure. In fact, your org chart could be a prime selling point for potential buyers, just as it is for investors.

How do I build an org chart?

Once you’ve decided that you want to take advantage of the benefits of an org chart, it’s time to get started on your chart. So where should you begin?

1. Determine your goals

Not all org charts are the same. Before building your chart, you should decide what you hope to accomplish with it. As we’ve discussed, an org chart can bring a variety of benefits. But which is your primary focus? Are you hoping to:

  • Optimize your hiring and onboarding process
  • Increase productivity
  • Give your employees a convenient staff directory
  • Court investors

…or something else entirely? The answer to this question will determine how you should go about building your chart.

2. Choose the right org chart maker

The tech industry has answered the need for better org charts with an abundance of great tools. Once you know your goals for the chart, you can pick the org chart maker that fits with your priorities. For example, if you want to hire better employees, you might want to opt for a public org chart platform like The Org.

3. Build your chart

Now that you’ve picked the right software for your org chart, you can get started. Some org chart makers will sync with your existing HR system and auto-generate a new chart. Others require you to create your chart on your own — though typically with the help of a library of templates.

Which org chart software should I use?

When it comes to org chart makers, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are some great choices to consider.

1. The Org

The Org is a free platform that lets companies create public org charts and share them with the world. In addition to an org chart, each company on The Org can create a thorough company page with press releases, employee reviews and a list of company values. Then, each employee can fill out their personal profile with valuable information.

Users can also view the org charts of thousands of companies from around the world — including global brands like Google, Amazon and Apple.

Best of all, The Org is completely free, with no paid plans or optional fees.

Users like: Users enjoy The Org’s simple, user-friendly approach to org chart design. The rich company and employee profiles are also a welcome feature for many companies.

Pricing plans:

The Org is completely free.

Visit The Org’s website.

2. Lucidchart

Lucidchart is a cloud-based diagramming tool from Lucid. This program can be used to design any number of diagrams, including:

  • Wireframes
  • Flowcharts
  • Mind maps

…and org charts. Lucidchart comes equipped with a number of org chart templates to help you get started on the right foot. Then, Lucidchart’s drag-and-drop functionality makes customizing your chart a breeze.

Users like: Lucidchart is hailed as one of the most customizable org chart makers on the market. Its broad use cases also make it popular for companies who want a tool that creates more than just org charts.

Pricing plans:

Free: No cost Individual: Starting at $7.95 per month Team: Starting at $9.00 per user Enterprise: Custom pricing

Visit the Lucidchart website.

3. ChartHop

ChartHop is one of the newest names in the org chart software game. Founded in 2020, this tool was designed to give companies a deep-dive analysis of their structure and procedures. Using ChartHop, companies can:

Auto-generate an org chart using their current HR system Generate detailed analytics reports based on data from their org chart Review past versions of an org chart Model alternate org charts to track projected growth or consider a possible change

ChartHop also auto-updates org charts to reflect any changes made to a company’s HR database.

Users like: ChartHop’s claim to fame is its automation and powerful analytics reports. These features have made it a go-to choice for companies who want to gain valuable insights into how their company ticks.

Pricing plans:

  • Basic: Free for the first 150 employees ($2 per month per employee after that)
  • Standard: $8 per employee per month + one-time implementation fee
  • Premium: $12 per employee per month + one-time implementation fee

Visit the ChartHop website.

4. Sift

Sift bills itself as a “people directory.” This is because Sift’s employee profiles are more detailed than almost any competitor. If your prime goal is to use your org chart as a staff directory and quasi-social media platform, Sift may be the right call.

However, unlike The Org, Sift’s org charts aren’t public. This limits its use cases somewhat.

Users like: Sift’s rich employee profiles help it stand out from the pack. Plus, its bare-bones approach to org chart design makes it easier to learn and manage than many other org chart makers.

Pricing plans:

  • Starter: $1.50 per employee profile per month
  • Pro: $2.50 per employee profile per month
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Visit the Sift website.

5. Pingboard

Pingboard is all about going the extra mile. Marketing itself as “an org chart with superpowers,” Pingboard offers more than 32,000 templates for companies to choose from. Pingboard also sports detailed employee profiles, much like The Org and Sift. And like ChartHop, Pingboard can auto-update an org chart based on a synced HR database.

Users like: Pingboard is especially popular for large companies that need a complex org chart. Pingboard can also be integrated with a Google Calendar, helping companies keep track of important milestones, such as employee work anniversaries and birthdays.

Pricing plans:

  • Team: $119 per month
  • Company: $249 per month (for up to 100 users, then there’s an additional $1.50 per user above that limit)

Visit the Pingboard website.

Get started on your shiny new org chart today

Setting up an org chart is one of the best gifts anyone can give their company. It strengthens teams, boosts productivity and promotes growth. With an org chart in place, everyone wins.

If you’re ready to create a public org chart for your company, you can get started on The Org for free today. We’ll guide you through the simple process and make sure you get the full benefits a public org chart has to offer.

Want to start creating your own free org chart?

Create your own free org chart today!

Show off your great team with a public org chart. Build a culture of recognition, get more exposure, attract new customers, and highlight existing talent to attract more great talent. Click here to get started for free today.

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