Digital Workspace
March 3, 2022

Have You Outgrown Visio’s Org Charting Capabilities?

When it comes to org charts, it’s pretty straightforward right? A bunch of boxes and lines interconnecting and representing who reports to who. Maybe some color coding to show different departments. Hopefully nothing like Dwight Schrute’s emergency plan.

Dwight's emergency org chart

Creating org charts can be a hassle, luckily there are software solutions out there that can help. We will look at one tool in particular, Microsoft Visio, and see how it compares with Sift. While Visio can be great for small teams or quick org chart creation jobs we also know many companies that have outgrown it. In this post, we want to help you understand if a more modern and automated org chart makes sense for your organization.

Visio has been around since the early ‘90s and is part of the Microsoft Office suite of products. At its core, it provides a diagramming tool for things like flowcharts, floor plans and org charts. It can be a great tool for quickly throwing together visuals in a pinch and sharing/embedding in different Office products like Word or PowerPoint.

Sift is designed around the idea that org charts are cumbersome to manually update. When there are countless transfers, new hires, and high turnover, understanding who is who can be confusing. Paired with a quick-to-navigate user interface and dedicated employee profiles, Sift aims to bring greater understanding to the individual behind the org chart and provide a point to collaborate with team members.

Let’s take a look and compare Visio and Sift in the areas of data source integration, features, and pricing. Let’s dig in!

Data, Data Everywhere

Visio’s org chart has four primary ways to get data imported which include; Microsoft Office Excel worksheets, Microsoft Office Access databases, Microsoft Active Directory, and Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services lists.

Sift has five methods of data integration. Azure Active Directory, LDAP, CSV & SFTP, Gsuite and the UKG Pro API.

  • Azure Active Directory: Microsoft's cloud-based identity and access management service. Check out this article to learn more about the one-way transfer of data from your AAD to Sift.
  • LDAP: This method will let you sync with on-premises systems such as Active Directory or other LDAP compatible sources.
  • CSV & SFTP: This is perhaps the simplest way to import your data to Sift. Just upload a CSV file with rows and columns. To automate this process in a secure way, you can use an SFTP integration.
  • Google Workplace: This allows you to set up an automated integration to frequently synchronize Sift profiles directly from GSuite. Sift GSuite Sync is a one-way operation. No information from Sift is imported into your user directory. Check out this article to learn more about this method.
  • UKG Pro™ Integration: Sift integrates with UKG Pro APIs to automatically sync with the latest employee roster every 3 hours.

If you are working off of Excel sheets and have that data updated pretty regularly, Visio could be a good option, especially if everything you use is within the Microsoft ecosystem. However, if you are looking to bring in people data from multiple sources and systems, Sift would offer you more flexibility.

Layout & Highlighting Departments

Visio gives you the ability to choose several layouts. You can see traditional top-down, bottom-up, and even horizontal variations. Additionally, you can also color-code the different departments. Visio allows you to change the shape of the employee cards to various shapes and objects. Different information can also exist on each card, like photos, phone numbers, job titles, etc.

“Very easy to add or remove pieces, nice library with all kinds of lines, shapes, hosts, easy to move around and add description.” - Michael L - Sales Engineer (G2 Review)
There are over eight org chart layout options available in Visio

Sift also allows departments to be displayed as different colors. Additionally, you have the ability to highlight by Office City, Office Name, or any other attribute you would like to distinguish your company. Org chart cards can display the information that you want like Photos, Company, Department, Team, Job Title, Email, Report Count and more.

Sift can change layout orientation and highlight different areas/departments

Profiles, Going Beyond the Org Chart

It’s great to see someone represented on an org chart, but what if you want to go further? What if you want to understand more about the person beyond their name, picture, and job title? This is where a dedicated employee profile can come in handy and a natural place for that to be accessed is from an org chart.

Visio’s sole focus is having a visual representation of an org chart. As a result, additional things like profiles are not part of the product.

With Sift, the focus is centered around understanding your team members to help solve problems and build connections. Knowing what team members do at the company, where they have worked, what skills and languages they speak, and what groups they belong to, helps provide greater role clarity and builds team collaboration. You can even learn how to correctly pronounce someones name. As such, Sift is built with rich profiles in mind so you can understand someone right from the org chart and build a better place to collaborate.

Sift Profiles offer detailed info about team members

Sift is more than a simple org chart solution; used correctly, the information you can gather from your staff can become data points used throughout the business. What Sift does exceptionally well is it takes all the data from your employee's profiles and allow you to filter it to find interesting and new ways to discover connections. If you're in the service industry, this solution could be a fantastic way to bridge the gap of finding the right experts at the right time. - Tyler V, Enterprise Apps and Systems Lead (link)

Pricing and Sharing

Visio starts at $5/user/month, which can get pricey pretty quickly depending on the size of your company. If cost is an issue, exporting PDFs is a viable option as suggested by one Visio user on G2. If you want to show recently updated org charts at a moment's notice, everyone will need to have a license in order to be able to view the latest org chart in real-time.

Since Visio is a Microsoft Product, a valuable benefit is copying any Visio diagram to another Office product like a PowerPoint presentation. Visio also has a Microsoft Teams app where you can collaborate and create diagrams and org charts right inside of Teams.

Visio pricing plan starts at $5/user/month

Sift starts at $1.50/user/month and like Visio can also be exported into various formats like SVG, JPG, PNG and PDF. To view org charts through the platform you will also need to have a license for everyone. Sift also has a Teams app that brings all of the Sift functionality right into Teams. To make it easier for the user and fit in the flow of work, you can share profiles via chat, and type in the Teams search bar to uncover people, projects, skills and more.

Sift pricing plans

To Sum It Up

As you can see each tool offers advantages in certain areas. If your goal is to occasionally update org charts once a year and your organization doesn’t have a hiring surge, rapid employee turnover, or constant role changes then Visio could be a good fit for you.

However, if you are constantly changing org charts a few times a month, and struggle with updating them, an automated org chart like Sift may make more sense. Additionally, if the goal includes better understanding of your organization beyond some boxes and lines, Sift also does a great job of representing the workforce with detailed profiles that help with that.

If you are still in the information gathering phase of your search for org charting software and need some help, check out our Org Chart Buyer’s Guide. It looks at 8 key elements you should consider when selecting the right tool for your organization.

Your 8 Step Guide to Selecting Org Chart Software

Organization charts help employees do their jobs. But what are the major considerations you should think about as you search for org chart software? Check out this guide for an overview of some of the major elements you should consider to select the right tool for your organization.