People Manager
August 27, 2020

Is Your Team Still Manually Updating Your Org Chart? There's a Better Way

As organizations become more agile and distributed, maintaining an accurate view of where your people fit becomes increasingly challenging. We often use org charts as a way to provide a high level view of our team or organization to external parties or those in another part of the organization. The question becomes, how do we maintain a relatively accurate and visually appealing representation of our organization when there’s no way that any individual can keep up with a constantly changing organization?

Why build manual org charts?

There are usually a few reasons why an individual or an organization would build or maintain a manual org chart.

  1. They aren’t updated too often - In a team or organization that doesn’t see much mobility, growth, or turnover, maybe your org chart would never change more than a couple of times per month.
  2. There is no organization-wide chart - In some organizations, resources such as an org chart may be more siloed. Maybe some teams or departments have them and some do not, and those that do are all maintained in a different way.
  3. Individuals build org charts for a one-time use - In many cases, an individual may want to build something more customized for a specific presentation or report. Maybe there’s a certain person on the chart that you don’t want to include because they’re not relevant in the given context. Maybe there’s a change you want to make to someone’s job title to present them in a more contextual way. Maybe you want to visualize the chart with a certain layout that best fits a presentation.

Where do manual org charts fall short?

The biggest disadvantage of manual org charts is maintaining them. Assuming that a company or even a department is interested in having a reliable source of this information that is relatively real-time, I would argue that manually keeping this org chart up to date is not a sustainable solution.

In addition, there are many cases where manual org charts are not as accessible to all of the members of the organization. They are often treated as something that needs to be requested or built by many different individuals. If your organization is truly looking to increase transparency and promote cross-collaboration, having your organization chart open and accessible is essential.

Automatic org charts

An automatic org chart is one that automatically updates based on changes in your organization’s people data. Once a person’s manager, team name, or job title is changed, those changes are automatically reflected in the org chart. This base functionality alone greatly mitigates the issue of maintaining the org chart. As changes naturally occur day to day in something like an HR system, the org chart will reflect those changes in short order. This proves to be extremely useful for large organizations. It is already helping team members at Quicken Loans access their people information easily. These org charts can also be initially built very quickly, as there’s very little work in comparison to building them manually.

An automatic org chart will also make providing an organization-wide solution to every member more feasible, as there no longer needs to be someone with extensive siloed knowledge maintaining it.

That being said, there are some disadvantages to the typical automatic org chart. The main one that we usually hear about is that it doesn’t provide the flexibility to accomplish the “one-time use” case above. Even though an org-wide, accessible, up-to-date org chart is extremely valuable, there are still times where you may want a more customized solution for something like a presentation.

At Sift, we pride ourselves on having the best automatic Org Chart for medium to large sized organizations. Don’t believe us? Check out what our customers say about us. We truly believe that there is no solution out there that gives you a better experience, especially on day zero. In addition, we provide extensive export functionality where you can download a part of your org chart and customize it to your heart’s content.


Want to see Sift’s Org Chart in action? Watch our short and sweet product demo here.

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The Forge

A monthly collection of the latest Sift content, thought pieces, and resources, we keep you updated on what's going on in the world of work and Sift.

As organizations become more agile and distributed, maintaining an accurate view of where your people fit becomes increasingly challenging. We often use org charts as a way to provide a high level view of our team or organization to external parties or those in another part of the organization. The question becomes, how do we maintain a relatively accurate and visually appealing representation of our organization when there’s no way that any individual can keep up with a constantly changing organization?

Why build manual org charts?

There are usually a few reasons why an individual or an organization would build or maintain a manual org chart.

  1. They aren’t updated too often - In a team or organization that doesn’t see much mobility, growth, or turnover, maybe your org chart would never change more than a couple of times per month.
  2. There is no organization-wide chart - In some organizations, resources such as an org chart may be more siloed. Maybe some teams or departments have them and some do not, and those that do are all maintained in a different way.
  3. Individuals build org charts for a one-time use - In many cases, an individual may want to build something more customized for a specific presentation or report. Maybe there’s a certain person on the chart that you don’t want to include because they’re not relevant in the given context. Maybe there’s a change you want to make to someone’s job title to present them in a more contextual way. Maybe you want to visualize the chart with a certain layout that best fits a presentation.

Where do manual org charts fall short?

The biggest disadvantage of manual org charts is maintaining them. Assuming that a company or even a department is interested in having a reliable source of this information that is relatively real-time, I would argue that manually keeping this org chart up to date is not a sustainable solution.

In addition, there are many cases where manual org charts are not as accessible to all of the members of the organization. They are often treated as something that needs to be requested or built by many different individuals. If your organization is truly looking to increase transparency and promote cross-collaboration, having your organization chart open and accessible is essential.

Automatic org charts

An automatic org chart is one that automatically updates based on changes in your organization’s people data. Once a person’s manager, team name, or job title is changed, those changes are automatically reflected in the org chart. This base functionality alone greatly mitigates the issue of maintaining the org chart. As changes naturally occur day to day in something like an HR system, the org chart will reflect those changes in short order. This proves to be extremely useful for large organizations. It is already helping team members at Quicken Loans access their people information easily. These org charts can also be initially built very quickly, as there’s very little work in comparison to building them manually.

An automatic org chart will also make providing an organization-wide solution to every member more feasible, as there no longer needs to be someone with extensive siloed knowledge maintaining it.

That being said, there are some disadvantages to the typical automatic org chart. The main one that we usually hear about is that it doesn’t provide the flexibility to accomplish the “one-time use” case above. Even though an org-wide, accessible, up-to-date org chart is extremely valuable, there are still times where you may want a more customized solution for something like a presentation.

At Sift, we pride ourselves on having the best automatic Org Chart for medium to large sized organizations. Don’t believe us? Check out what our customers say about us. We truly believe that there is no solution out there that gives you a better experience, especially on day zero. In addition, we provide extensive export functionality where you can download a part of your org chart and customize it to your heart’s content.


Want to see Sift’s Org Chart in action? Watch our short and sweet product demo here.

Get Our Newsletter

The Forge

A monthly collection of the latest Sift content, thought pieces, and resources, we keep you updated on what's going on in the world of work and Sift.