1. Help Centre
  2. Org Design Guides

Org Design Guide: Create a "current state" organizational chart

The most common starting point for customers, even if it's part of a larger project, is to create a "current state" organizational chart.

Screenshot 2023-02-09 at 7-56-19 am-png

Why build an organizational chart?

We hear a lot of great reasons from customers for creating a current state organizational chart, but the main motivation is usually the same; provide organizational clarity to avoid chaos.

In many cases, org designers know that the company is going through a change and plan to do it deliberately, with a clear strategy and picture in mind of what the organization should look like in three, six, twelve months, or further into the future.

Sometimes, org designers and leaders, we talk to tell us that their organizations have grown "organically" without a consistent strategy in mind, and now they want to get a clearer picture of the organization so they can make sense of it all and, if necessary, fix it.

If you read our article about learnings that can be taken from real-world org charts like Canva, Apple, Spotify, and more, we mention that some organizations may still be using a structure that has served them well in the past but no longer works for where they're at now. 

Another category of org designers and leaders are those that want to show their people where they fit within the wider organization and remove any ambiguity about who is responsible for what.

Regardless of which category you fit into, or even if it's another, the starting point for any org design process is understanding your organization as it is right now. This will provide you with the foundation needed for beginning any future organizational change and help remove potential ambiguity or chaos.

Below, we'll provide you with the steps and features needed to construct a current state org chart that's easy for you and others to view and interpret.


Steps to create your current state org chart:

  1. Add or import your people
  2. Change primary reporting lines

  3. Add groups & teams
  4. Color positions
  5. Share with others
  6. Custom properties
  7. Save a view or set the default view
  8. Keep your org chart up to date



1. Add or Import your people

Importing your people into a structure or building a structure by dragging and dropping people will provide you with a basic layout and a starting point from which to add more detail.


Import options:



Generate an org structure using a CSV

Using a CSV is a simple and effective way to generate a full org structure, so long as each person in your spreadsheet has a first and last name or full name and a manager is added who is also in the spreadsheet as a person to be imported. By reading the list of people and their managers, Functionly's import engine knows what the reporting lines should look like.

See the steps for importing a structure using a CSV.


Download a demo CSV with all available data


See the full list of all our existing data available for import. If you don't see a particular field in our existing data options, you can import it as a custom property.



Generate an org structure using an integration

We integrate with a long list of HRIS and Payroll Systems. As with our CSV import, so long as a manager can be detected for each person except the person at the top of your chart, our import engine should be able to generate a fully constructed org chart for you.



  1. Open the scenario
  2. Click "import/update" in the left-hand menu or above the top position in your chart
  3. Select your chosen integration
  4. Choose "rebuild all" to import a new structure
  5. Proceed through the login page to connect your HRIS or Payroll System


View our integration page for troubleshooting or contact us via our support page or by emailing support@functionly.com



Build an org chart using drag & drop

While this may seem daunting for larger organizations, it's a great opportunity to view your organization on a forensic level and will provide you with a firmer understanding of the organizational structure in more detail. It's also a great opportunity to bring other people in to help with, and begin working collaboratively on the process.


Steps to import your people first, and then use drag and drop to build:

  1. Click "import/update"
  2. Select your chosen method e.g. CSV or integration
  3. Proceed to the "match" step
  4. Select "ignore this column" for the "manager" column

  5. Proceed to import
  6. In the left-hand menu, click and hold the person at the head of your oranization
  7. Drag and drop them to your org canvas


If you are planning on using our drag-and-drop functionality to create your org chart and your organization is larger than 50 people, adding groups will make it easier to identify where you should be adding people.


Steps to manually add people and use drag and drop to build:

  1. Click "Add person" in the left-hand menu
  2. Input the person's name
  3. Drag them from the left onto the org chart
  4. Input the name of the position





2. Change primary reporting lines

Whether you imported via CSV, integration, or built the entire org chart, you can easily change the structure using drag and drop.



  1. Click and hold any position that you would like to move
  2. Drag it to its new location on the org chart
  3. Release the mouse button to drop






3. Add groups to your organizational chart

Generating or building your org chart is step one, there are more features that make the org chart richer (and clearer), including groups. Groups allow you to visualize the departments, functional areas, teams, pods, or product lines in your organization.

If someone in your organization is viewing the org chart, groups make it easier to identify the area they're looking for.


Steps to add a group:

  1. Hover just above any position
  2. Click "+ Add"
  3. Select "New group label" or "New group boundary"
  4. Click on "New group" or the ellipsis on the banner for the group to rename
  5. Click and hold a position to drag and drop it and any of its reports into the group
  6. Drag and drop individual positions by holding "Control" on PC or "Command" on Mac


Groups have additional features and functionality that provide even more value.

You can read more about how to get the most out of groups here.



4. Color positions on your organizational chart

Coloring sections of your org chart makes it clearer where one part of your organization begins, and another ends, and coloring individual positions can communicate something important about a position to others viewing the chart. If building your org chart is the beginning of a bigger project, then color can be used to communicate detail about the different positions. For example, if you are building an org chart to help with a merger or acquisition, you may want to color based on the parent company of a position or if it's a position that's duplicated unnecessarily.


In this section:


Steps to color an individual position:

  1. Hover on any position
  2. Click the ellipsis on the top right of the position
  3. Select "color"
  4. Choose a color


Steps to color a branch of your org chart:

  1. Hover above or below any position or group
  2. Click the ellipsis
  3. Select "color all below"
  4. Choose a color





5. Share with others



Sharing options:

  • Share to collaborate
  • Create a view-only link
  • Embed a view
  • Download an export


Share to collaborate

Whether this exercise is the beginning of workforce planning, workforce reduction, or organizational strategy planning, you'll most likely need to bring other stakeholders into the process.

Click here for steps for sharing a scenario with another user, as well as more detail on what the different access levels mean.




Share a view-only link or embed one in your intranet

If you're creating your org chart to share it across your organization, then creating a link to share allows people to view it without having to create a Functionly account. They're free, unlimited, can be password-protected, and embedded on many intranets. To create a link for your scenario from your homepage, click the ellipsis on its panel and select "share link".


Click here to learn how to use links, including how to embed them on your intranet.


Share an export

Adding people to a scenario or sharing with a link means they can see what you see, but exporting is a great way to quickly show the bits that are most relevant.

One of the things that we hear from org designers is, "my CEO doesn't have time to create an account or search a chart," and it's for this reason that the flexibility of exports offer a perfect way to get the information that matters in front of the people who need to see it.

You can export your org chart to visual formats such as PDF, PNG, or JPEG using the export/download icon in the top right of your scenario. "Download" will give you a quick download to PDF or PNG of what's displayed on your org chart, or you can select "export charts" to view a full list of export options.


Learn more about how to get the most out of exports here.




6. Use custom properties in your organizational chart

Every company is different, and as such, every company is likely to have some unique information they want to capture for people and positions in their organization. Some of the more common use cases we see are location, pronouns, and employment status (permanent/contract).

Again, if building an org chart is a part of a bigger project like a merger or acquisition, then custom properties can be used to show a person's parent company, as well as many other practical applications.




7. Save a view of your organizational chart or set the default view

Saved views allow you to hone in on particular areas of your organization, focus on the data that matters and come back to it quickly again in the future. Saved views are also accessible to other collaborators, so when you want them to view something specific, perhaps a proposed change, they can see exactly what you're highlighting. If you want them to be able to see what you're talking about as soon as they open the org chart then you can set the view to be the default for all viewers, including those with share links.


Screenshot 2023-02-02 at 4-57-27 pm-png





8. Keep your org chart up to date




Add positions using drag & drop

As new people join your organization, you can either add them one-by-one or importing multiple people then use drag and drop to place them in the correct positions on the chart.


Add one person at a time

  1. Click "+ Add person" in the left-hand menu
  2. Input the person's name and select "create"
  3. Drag and drop the new person onto your org chart
  4. Click the position title, type in the title
  5. Hit return


Import multiple people and add them

  1. Click "Import/update" in the left-hand menu or above the top position
  2. Select "CSV" from the list of options
  3. Select "update"
  4. Either upload a CSV with the new people or add their details to the table


Rebuild your org structure

Whether you initially created your org chart using one of our integrations, a CSV, or manually built it, you can easily import a new version to include any new positions that have been added to the organization since your last import.


Rebuilding the org structure will remove any groups or secondary (dotted-line) reporting that have been added to your org chart.


Steps to import an updated structure using an integration:

  1. Click import in the left-hand menu or above the top position
  2. Select your preferred integration
  3. Choose "rebuild all"
  4. Log in using the provided fields
  5. Match fields as necessary


Steps to import an updated structure using a CSV:

If you don't have the original file, or if you originally built using drag and drop, you can export your scenario to CSV, update the file, and re-import it to rebuild.

  1. Click import in the left-hand menu or above the top position
  2. Select CSV from the list of options
  3. Choose "rebuild all"
  4. Click "upload file"
  5. Choose the updated version of your CSV
  6. Match the fields from your CSV to Functionly's fields


If there are fields in your CSV that aren't in our standard data, you can include them as custom properties on the "match" step of the import process.


Update the data in your scenario


If you only want to update data and not reporting lines or groups, ensure that the manager column is ignored on the "match" step of the import process.


Steps to update data in your scenario using an integration:

  1. Click "Import/update" in the left-hand menu or above the top position
  2. Select your preferred integration
  3. Choose "update"
  4. Log in using the provided fields
  5. Match fields


Steps to update data in your scenario using a CSV:

  1. Export a CSV of your scenario or use an existing CSV
  2. Update the data in the file
  3. Click "Import/update" in the left-hand menu or above the top position
  4. Select CSV
  5. Choose "update"
  6. Select "upload file", choose the file from your local drive, and click next
  7. On the "match" step, click "Ignore this column" for "manager"
  8. Match the fields correctly and click next
  9. Resolve any conflicts and click next


Data from your CSV is matched to the correct people and positions in Functionly using email addresses, "Functionly position ID", or "Functionly person ID". The latter two appear in the CSV you receive when you export a scenario to CSV.