Organizational Chart Design Principles and Layout Guidelines

Organizational Chart Design
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Businesses need to show their employees and stakeholders their different positions, how they are related, employee roles and responsibilities, and their hierarchical structure. They do this using an organizational chart, a graphical representation of these roles and relationships. It can also be a crucial tool for showing how communication and data flow within an organization. To ensure the chart is effective and easy to understand, it should be well-designed following the best design principles and layout guidelines.

Choose the Right Organizational Chart

There are various types of organizational charts that all serve different functions, and they have their pros and cons. The most common is the hierarchical structure, where employees are grouped below their supervisor or immediate senior. Others include matrix, horizontal, network, divisional, and team based.

Each type of chart will inform you how you will group employees. For example, your type of chart might require that you group employees based on their direct supervisor, while others will require that you do so using their department.

Keep It Simple

An organizational chart should convey the most important, most relevant information quickly. That includes the person’s name, title, contact information, and perhaps one or two responsibilities. That should be enough to tell those looking at the chart who they are and what they do.

Keeping such organizational chart basics in mind is especially important if you own a large business or company where additional details would make everything look cluttered. Once you have added their details, ensure their relationships with each other are clear.

Use organizational chart software to make things easier on yourself. The added benefit of using one is that you can share the chart once you create it.

Ensure Clear Reporting Paths

Your organizational chart should also let people who see it understand the reporting path within the whole organization. This allows employees to understand who to report to or how to escalate issues if they ever need to do so.

The best way to indicate these paths is to use color coding or visual cues. For example, you could have differently colored lines for each department and each grouping under that department.

Use Shapes Where Necessary

Also, consider using shapes where necessary to convey important information. For example, you might use a colored rectangle for department heads so people can easily find them in the chart. This can be useful in larger organizations or ones that have many departments.

Provide Documentation

This will not be as extensive as you may provide in other situations, but it is a good idea to provide annotations that let people know what the different colors and shapes in the organizational chart mean.

The good news is that organizational chart software will allow you to do this easily. Additionally, it will change the colors for you if you ever decide to change engineering from blue to purple, for example.

An organizational chart is only as useful as its design and layout allow it to be. Take your time to consider groupings and the type of chart you will use to ensure you do it right. Follow the principles above, and make sure it is so easy to use that people can understand it without explanation.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.