An org chart is an essential tool that helps you visualize your business’s employee structure. Creating an org chart can help you make hiring decisions, see the management structure, and look for areas that need improvement with delegating tasks.
While you can use many programs to create an org chart, Canva offers the most user-friendly platform that also gets you professional results. It’s an ideal choice if you’re not a designer but need to create one or more org charts independently. We’ll also include some additional program options that you can use if Canva isn’t suitable for your needs.
Step-By-Step Guide to Creating an Org Chart
Step 1: Draft a Basic Org Chart on Paper
Before you start designing an org chart with a program, it’s helpful to draft one out on paper. The organization you’re trying to depict in the chart may not be straightforward, so you may need to carefully think about how you want to visually represent your staff.
This can be one of the most time-consuming parts of creating an org chart. You’ll need to speak with staff, review job descriptions, and get to the root of which staff report to which supervisor to make your chart accurate.
Don’t be afraid of creating a messy, half-scratched-out chart. The goal here is to start getting the information down on paper, so you’ll have a plan you can refer to when you digitally draft the chart. Go through as many drafts of this on-paper chart as you need to before you have an accurate finished product.
Step 2: Log into Canva and Choose a Template
Start by logging into Canva. If you don’t yet have an account, you can set one up for free. With an account, you’ll be able to save your projects and refer to and edit them in the future if needed.
Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be brought to a home page where you can choose the type of project you’ll be working on. The easiest way to find the org chart templates is to type “org chart” into the search bar at the top of the page. Then, click on the “Organization Chart” option that’s displayed.
You’ll see a screen where you can view all of the org chart templates available on Canva. You can opt to create a blank org chart or start from a template to save you significant time on elements like branding and visual design.
If you want to use a template, then Canva offers free templates you can use with any subscription. If you want to use a Pro template, you’ll need to upgrade to Canva’s Pro plan. The Pro plan costs $119.00 per year for one user, and a free 30-day trial is available. The Pro plan will also get you access to perks like Pro templates, fonts, and stock photo options, giving you plenty of design power. In addition to org charts, many companies use Canva to create professional marketing materials across platforms.
Canva lets you easily sort your templates by free or Pro with the drop-down selection at the top left of the page. You can also sort templates by color, so you can quickly find one that will look great with your branding.
With more than 1,700 org chart templates to choose from, consider narrowing down your choices with filters to save time. This wide array of templates includes many design options, so you can get the exact chart layout that you’re envisioning.
Once you’ve found the template you want to use, you just need to click on it, and Canva will apply it to your project. If you decide you want to change your template, you can do this later, even after you’ve started working.
Step 3: Start Inputting Your Information
This is where the paper org chart you drafted up earlier becomes helpful. The template structure will guide you, but now it’s time to add the information that reflects your company.
Editing the template is easy. Just click over each bit of text you want to edit, highlight the text, and enter your own text.
You might decide to follow the template closely, or you can edit the information and overall style to better suit your business. You might want to include names of staff and their relevant positions or leave things more general by referring to departments and divisions.
As you enter your information, be sure that you’re doing this so that the chart reflects the hierarchy you want it to demonstrate. Having all of this information already laid out in your draft makes it easier to enter into a template and means that you’ll probably have to make fewer changes to the template’s structure.
Step 4: Make Style Changes
Once you have the information entered into the chart, you’ll need to make any stylistic changes to get the overall look that you want. You may need to adjust text sizes and fonts, which you can do by highlighting the text you want to change. That will bring up a text editing menu that’s very similar to Microsoft Word.
You may also want to alter individual design elements within the template, like the org chart boxes. You can do this by clicking on the box or element you want to edit. This will bring up a menu that allows you to change the element’s color, crop or flip it, or add animation.
Keep in mind that if you’re designing an org chart you want to print out, avoid using animations since they won’t be reflected in the finished product.
Canva makes it easy to edit and personalize each template. Consider incorporating your branding colors and fonts for a cohesive look.
Step 5: Download Your Finished Chart
Canva automatically saves your edits, so there’s no need to worry about manually saving your org chart.
When you’re pleased with the finished product, you can download the file to save to your computer, email it to others, or share it with your staff.
To download the file, click on the downward-pointing arrow in the top right corner of the menu. You can then choose the type of file you’d like to download, including a PNG, JPEG, or PDF file.
When you need to edit the file in the future (adding staff, changing the hierarchy, merging departments, etc.), you can access it through your Canva projects and pick it up right where you left off.
3 Top Benefits of Creating an Org Chart
Creating an org chart for your business can be time-consuming and requires careful thought, but it can also pay off with multiple benefits for your business.
Better Understand Your Business for More Strategic Hiring
When you sit down and really work out the details of how your business functions, you’ll better understand how your staffing works and how the reporting and supervising are structured. It’s easier to visualize the skill sets within your business, and you can potentially identify areas where you may need to expand or alter your operations with new staff.
When you have a better understanding of your business structure, you’ll be able to delegate work better to avoid overwhelming employees. You might decide to make strategic hiring changes to better balance workloads or take on the work you know new projects will bring in. All of these changes will enhance your business operations and ensure that you’re not only well-staffed but that you’ve hired staff with the talents and experiences your business needs.
Help Employees Understand Your Business Structure
Having an org chart can also help employees understand your business structure better. It can be particularly difficult for staff when they’re new employees of a large business or when a company is expanding or restructuring. A visual representation can help save time, ensuring that communication and projects flow through the appropriate staff.
With a more thorough understanding of how your business operates, supervisors can better assess employee workloads. Different teams can also better collaborate and make communication plans when working on new or cross-team projects.
Be Prepared to Apply for Funding
Whether you’re applying for financing or a grant for your nonprofit organization, most investors will want to see an org chart that visually explains your business departments, staff, and hierarchy. Once you have a basic org chart, you can customize it with the data that these applications may require, including project-specific responsibilities and staff salaries.
You may also find that your investors, Board of Directors, and other stakeholders want and appreciate updates in the forms of org charts as your business evolves. An org chart can be a great way to demonstrate how your business has grown, how you’ve utilized additional funding, or how you plan to restructure your business if additional funding is approved.
3 Biggest Challenges With Creating an Org Chart & How To Troubleshoot Them
Creating an org chart isn’t always easy. Here’s how to best deal with these three common challenges that you might face.
Inaccurate Org Charts
Designing an org chart for a large business with many teams and departments is particularly challenging, mainly because no one staff person—including you—understands all of the nuances and connections between those teams. This can lead to chart inaccuracies, and a chart may overlook important connections between teams and hierarchies.
To ensure your chart is effective, it’s helpful to work up the first draft and consult with the team and department supervisors. Once the chart is fully drafted, ask all of the teams and department staff to review it and help identify any elements that may be incorrect or missing. This can be a valuable opportunity to learn about how the business operates and about areas where there may be shortcomings and needed improvement.
If you’re using an org chart to visualize potential new positions, it’s easy for those positions’ responsibilities to quickly become unrealistic. Your org chart might make it look like it’s logical for a single position to take on numerous responsibilities when in real life, that might be impractical and impossible.
When you’re creating an org chart, take a step back and visualize what the actual responsibilities for a position would be. It will help if you draft them into a job description to have a more realistic idea of the type of position you’re designing and whether it makes sense to be in one position.
Keeping Your Org Chart Up to Date
An org chart is only helpful if it’s up to date, and that can be a challenge when your business is rapidly expanding or when you’re rethinking its structure and operation. With Canva, editing the chart is easy since it is saved in your designs.
If you have a hard time keeping up with org chart changes, then consider assigning the responsibility to an assistant or other staff member. Being sure to update a chart monthly or bimonthly can help to keep it current, accurate, and effective.
Other Options For Creating an Org Chart
This post has shown you how to create an org chart using Canva, but there are many other tools you can use, each offering different benefits.
Tools like Bamboo HR and VIVAHR not only offer org chart building capabilities, but also offer comprehensive HR functionality. Bamboo HR is an excellent option if you’re looking to build and manage employee culture, and tools like payroll processing and time-tracking tools leave your staff free to focus on that culture development. VIVAHR is a top choice when you’re hiring new staff and building your business, because it offers detailed applicant tracking to help you to manage the hiring process and ensure your business finds the best employee.
Our list of the best HR software highlights some other quality options for creating an org chart and managing your HR responsibilities.
- Paycom – Best for performance management
- VIVAHR – Best applicant tracking system
- Zenefits – Best all-in-one HR platform
- Bamboo HR – Best for building employee culture
- Cezanne – Best for international HR management