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8 Reasons You Should Ditch PowerPoint for Org Charts

8 Reasons You Should Ditch PowerPoint for Org Charts

Move Over PowerPoint

So your organization needs an org chart…or maybe you just need to update the one you already have. According to a recent poll we conducted, nearly 72 percent of you would turn to PowerPoint to get the job done. Another 15 percent would choose Visio. Problem solved, right? Not so fast.

While both PowerPoint and Visio offer some cool features and get the job done, there’s so much more an org chart can do, particularly for fast-growing companies and those wanting to hold on to a small company feel. Something as simple as having an org chart that is always up to date is a game changer but if you’re only used to tracking down versions and edits, how do you know there’s a better way?

The issue for most companies is they don’t even understand what all they are missing. PowerPoint has been the tool of choice for so long, some never think there could be anything out there to improve upon it. Many thought the same thing about encyclopedias when the Internet was developed. Encyclopedias are like traditional org charts – the information they contain is outdated by the time it is printed. In today’s fast-moving environment, real-time, accurate data is the only data worth having.

Related: The Business Case for Org Chart Software

A Historical Perspective

Let’s just look at technology and where it’s come. The past 50 years has brought us email and personal computers. It wasn’t until 1994 that true “smartphones” became popular. Sixteen years ago we changed how we purchased and listened to music with the introduction of the iPod. Only thirteen years ago did we know anything about Facebook and 10 years ago brought us the iPhone and related mobile apps. Within one week of the launch of the App Store, 10 million downloads were counted and in 2014, those downloads jumped to 75 billion.

What does all of this tell us? Things have drastically changed in the past decade, let alone the past 50 years. Why should you care? Because if you are using PowerPoint as your org chart maker, you should realize PowerPoint was developed in 1990. If you’re talking about your age, 1990 would make you a spring chicken. But we’re not. We’re talking about technology which means 1990 is prehistoric. Know what else happened around that same time? The Berlin Wall came down. Are you really still using software that dates back to the Berlin Wall?

Okay, I know…PowerPoint has made some updates since 1990. Even with their enhancements, however, the software is limited in what it can do. Here are eight reasons why PowerPoint still isn’t ready for prime time:

1. It doesn’t allow for real-time updates or version control.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of PowerPoint is that it is a snapshot in time…you just can’t be sure at what time it was snapshotted (really surprised spell check didn’t pick up on that one). One person can be making edits and save it to their hard drive and another person can be working on their version and save it to their hard drive. Who knows whose version is the latest. Then you bring in email to the equation and good luck. How much time have you spent trying to locate what you thought might be the last email attachment you received?

Org chart software puts email and attachments on notice. The software resides in the cloud so all edits and updates are made in real-time, even if multiple people are working on the same chart at the same time. No matter when or where you pull up the org chart, you can be sure it’s the latest version because there simply is no other version. It’s the single source of truth for the entire organization. It can be trusted, so it will be used. When was the last time you could say that about your PowerPoint org chart?

2. It lacks collaboration, sharing or editing capabilities.

The way people work today is completely different from how we worked even a decade ago. People are on the go, working remotely, in coffee shops, home offices and on the road. Organizations host a dispersed workforce which means it may be rare to have the whole team together in one place at any given time. We rely heavily on our mobile devices and apps to help us be productive and efficient whether we are in the corporate office or not.

Related: 4 Ways to Include Remote Employees in Daily Office Culture

Your org chart software should be flexible and modern enough to keep up with this mobile workforce. If you can’t see who is working on the same org chart as you, if you can’t easily share your org chart with someone and know with confidence they are looking at the same version as you, and if you can’t easily make edits everyone can instantly see, listen up.

Today’s org chart software is highly interactive, always real time and never hard to access. Every team member can access the most current and accurate org chart from any device anywhere around the globe where they have internet access. Edits are seen instantly and because they are made in real time, there is never any doubt if the version is the latest. No more digging through old emails or file folders to cross-check if you have the latest version. Everything is updated in the cloud the instant an edit is made.

When everyone is on the same page, it’s amazing how much collaboration improves. Users can see exactly who is working on what, where they are in the organization and on the globe, who is in the office and out, who has what skills and abilities, and who likes sushi. That brings me to point #3:

3. There is no way to search it to find a person in the organization.

With PowerPoint, people are mapped out on a grid-like structure. You see their name, their title, their position in the company…and that’s about it. Knowing what you know about cloud-based apps, realizing how many of them you use to do so many things – doesn’t this limited view of your organization seem a little, well, limited?

While PowerPoint may map out your organization, it doesn’t give you the ability to really find someone in your company unless you know who you are looking for in the first place. Instead, you likely send an email to a co-worker or walk around the office asking others who you need to talk with in X department. This is a colossal waste of time and energy when all the information you need to pinpoint the exact person could be at your fingertips in only seconds.

Modern org chart software is like peeling back the proverbial curtain. Sure, it maps out your organizational structure but it brings every person on that chart alive in 4-D. We are all used to searching for people, things, ideas and knowledge on Google or other search engines. We type in a few parameters, a phrase, a word and BAM! We have thousands of possible hits, ranked by the closest possible match. Why not bring that same functionality to the org chart?

Your organization is it’s own ecosystem, it’s own world wide web of people, ideas, skills, data and knowledge. It’s a shame to keep all of that potential bottled up. The org chart enables users to complete profiles of their work and personal attributes so everyone in the organization can see exactly what they’re made of. Search for a specific person, a skillset you need, someone who has worked on a particular project, or even someone who has the same interests as you. Type in what you’re looking for and every possible person who fits that description is presented. Could it be any easier to find what you’re looking for?

4. It can’t be securely accessed from any device.

I said it before but it’s worth repeating: people are on the go so they need technology that will go with them. PowerPoint doesn’t go anywhere but the computer you have the software loaded onto. If you want to access it, you’re going to have to be at your computer. Who works like that anymore?

Today’s org chart software works like the apps we have all come to love. You can access your complete company org chart and employee directory from your computer or mobile device with the tap of a finger. How’s that for accessibility?

5. It doesn’t have security features to prevent accidental edits.

Things happen, I get it. Mistakes can be made and even worse, can be difficult to spot. One mistake on an org chart could have Joe Smith promoted and the VP of Finance making cold calls. The problem with PowerPoint is once these mistakes are made, the entire company is going to see them and have that version saved on their computers. Even if you catch the mistake, you’ll have to make the edit and email the new version to every employee, hoping they’ll delete the previous version and use the updated one going forward.

That seems like a huge pain in the backside. Instead, organizational chart software has security features built in to help alleviate the risk of mistakes in the first place. On top of that, edits can be easily made. Even further, those edits are instantly reflected so anyone who accesses the org chart will have the latest version. No. Email. Sent.

6. It has no drill-down capabilities to get more details about a person.

When looking at your PowerPoint charts, how much information is presented and how easy is it to find more details? That’s what I thought. When you create a PowerPoint chart, you have to decide how much information you want to include on the page. Name, title and job function are a nice beginning. But what if you could add more without cluttering the page?

Business org chart software helps you do just that. You decide each layer of information. Layers. This is something PowerPoint doesn’t have. With PowerPoint, you get 1-dimensional, flat, historic view of your organization. With today’s enhanced org chart software, you get as many layers as you care to include – complete with a photo of the employee to put a face with a name.

Think it’s important to tie in the person’s current projects? Add it as a project layer that can be drilled into from the main org chart page. Want to give your employees the ability to see what office everyone works out of? Create another drill down layer. Your onion can be as thick or thin as you choose but it’s all there for anyone who wants to cut into it.

7. It has no way to instantly connect with people in the org chart.

Even if you find the person you were looking for in PowerPoint (assuming you knew their name and position in the company already), you’re going to have to take another step to look up their name in a company directory to find their contact information. If you’re lucky, the number you find listed will be the number they answer…and they’ll actually answer. Or, you can email them and wait until they’re back from vacation. In a week.

Alternatively, you could use business org chart software that allows you to simply click on the photo or name of the person in the org chart for whom you are looking and instantly dial them, text them or email them with a tap of the finger. Even better, you can see if they’re on vacation or in the office so you don’t waste your time trying to contact them if they aren’t available. What you can do is see from their profile the name of their backup who might be able to help in their absence. Time to discover all of this information? Less than a minute.

8. Software updates are manual and voluntary.

What version of PowerPoint are you using? I’ll give you ten minutes to figure it out. See, that’s the problem. Most people have no idea what version they’re using and many are using an older version that may not have the capabilities as the newer version or may be incompatible with a co-worker’s version. You could ask your employees to all upgrade at the same time by going to the Microsoft website or purchasing a new license, but how will you enforce it?

When software resides in the cloud, updates move from manual to automatic. Everyone has the same version because no one was held responsible for upgrading. There is no cost to the organization to upgrade because it’s all part of the SaaS model. You get access to the latest versions without even realizing an update was made and you can be certain you are working on the latest, greatest version just like the rest of your co-workers.

We’re not here to dog PowerPoint, just to show you what you are missing if you think that’s all there is. If you’re on the fence or believe you’ve made it this far without a “fancier” product, we invite you to give org chart software a try. What’s the worst that can happen? You just might learn more about your co-workers, get more done in a day, and be more self-sufficient. Plus, modern organizational chart software is a hell of a lot more fun to use than PowerPoint. Just sayin’.

Cameron Nouri
by Cameron Nouri I am the Director of Growth at Pingboard. I consider myself an entrepreneur at heart. I love trying new things and taking educated risks on new ventures, both professionally and in my personal life. I bring that passion to work everyday where I enjoy helping others discover the power that Pingboard can unlock.