I was visiting a client recently, and found she was busy on a phone call. Whilst waiting in her ante-room, I noticed her secretary frowning at her laptop and sighing.

After a while, I asked her what the problem was. I had opened a floodgate.

“It’s these org charts” she said “they’re just so fiddly to do, and they change so quickly!” She explained that each department produced their own chart, which was then sent to HR for production of the master chart.

I commiserated, and after my discussion with the client, I asked about the importance of organisation charts to her company. She explained that although it was useful to have a visual representation of the structure, they were of operational value for employee orientation in the on-boarding process as well as the strategic benefits of ‘at a glance’ succession plan and span of control reviews.

Unfortunately, she explained, they had gone back to manual methods after buying some charting software a few years back which had proved unwieldy to use.

This is fairly representative of what I have encountered: the labour-intensive production of charts de-centralised to individual departments, in varying formats such as Excel and Visio and all the results fired at HR for the thankless task of merging. And, of course, while all that is being done, changes in personnel are occurring, so the chart immediately becomes outdated.


Nowadays, enterprises don’t always follow the old hierarchical rules as flatter structures and matrix project teams become the norm in certain sectors, but the right HR software can provide accurate real-time charts to those who need them with much less effort. As they are directly linked to the data in the system, they are not only timely, but also factual. The option to have additional flexibility to insert non-standard reporting lines for a true representation is an extra benefit.

Credibility in the HR system and its output are key for the department and its standing. Equally importantly, the amount of time saved is significant; our consultancy calculated that the equivalent of 1.5 full-time employees would be saved over a 5-year period in a typical enterprise of 1000 employees using manual methods*

Don’t forget the everlasting gratitude of all involved in the production of manual charts!

For these reasons, I include Organisation Charting among my Big Five benefits of an HR system** (see below),

*(Derived from empirical studies by HRmeansbusiness Ltd over a 10 year period)

Copyright ©HRmeansbusiness Ltd 2018)


**The Big Five:

  • Self Service
  • Work Flow
  • Report writer
  • Automatic Triggers / Notifications
  • Organisation Charts


David BarnardDenis Barnard is acknowledged to be a leading expert in the selection of HR & payroll systems, and other HRIS, both inside and outside the UK.

He has been instrumental in leading successful selection and implementation projects in a wide range of sectors, including local government, Higher Education, publishing, music industry and manufacturing.

His recently-published book “Selecting and implementing HR & payroll software” has been acclaimed by leading HR practitioners.