Helpware: Charting your place in the organization

In the early days of PCs I had a boss who was hung up on organizational charts, so much so that my co-workers speculated that he had one for his household. There he was in a box at the top with a line connected to a slightly lower box for his wife. The kids branched out from both of them, with the oldest on top, and the others at levels indicating how he had evaluated them. We could only wonder where in the chart he placed his beloved teacup poodle. Those of us who were at the top levels of his work chart had spent enough time at his house to be convinced that Doodles was either at the level of his wife or just a tad above her.

At work, we were constantly rearranging our charts and trying to poach workers from other departments. Each time that happened, the boss wanted to see our new org chart. Most of my co-middle managers did the job quickly and efficiently with pencil, eraser and ruler. Already a geek, I employed shareware programs to develop a chart. After many hours, to the delight of the boss, I produced on a dot matrix printer an electronic chart. My co-managers had used the time to, uh, manage, while my subordinates got into games of indoor football, breaking windows and horrifying the next-door women’s department.

I’m no longer producing organizational charts; in fact, I no longer have subordinates. Or a job. But if I did, I’d use OrgChart Professional for Windows PCs, a commercial program that makes producing an organizational chart so easy I created a company just to run it through its paces.

There are dozens of styles of charts, from a three-person office to a full-blown corporation. Each square (or just about any other shape) can be customized. Office location, salary, photo, phone, e-mail – all manner of pertinent information can be included. The chart itself can be color-customized with borders and themes. If you think a division should be colored in lavender, have at it. Charts can be vertical or horizontal and anything in-between. The chart can be exported to Excel and published to PowerPoint and Word. A wizard helps you through the steps.

The interface looks intimidating when it first is launched. But after studying it for 10 minutes or so and playing with it for a while I was set to go. If you think you need help, there are wizards and other tutorials to show you the way. Simple things such as moving an employee up or down in the organization is as simple as dragging and dropping it to a new location.

If I would have had OrgChart Professional way back when I was a player, my charts alone would have put me at about the equivalent of Doodle’s spot in the company.

To download a trial copy, go to Registered versions start at $149. The more employees your company has, the more expensive it gets.


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