How to Create an Organizational Chart Online

by Keith Evans

Organizational charts are a standard way of visually mapping an organization's structure. Virtually any organization, ranging from the smallest family business to the largest corporation, can benefit from an organizational chart that clearly defines reporting structures, chains of command and other relevant business facts. With new web-based software, organizational charts can be created quickly and easily--and best of all, for free--online.

Type "www.cogmap.com" into your browser's address bar and press "Enter." This address will load the CogMap website and allow you to create organizational charts online. Because the organizational charting web interface is heavily graphical, a broadband or high speed data connection is strongly recommended for this action. Any standard web browser should work, but the charting website is optimized for use with popular web browsers like Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox. If the page does not load, verify that your Internet connection is working and try using one of the supported browsers mentioned above.

Click on the button labeled "Create a New Map!" This button, located about halfway down the web page and on the left side, is the jumping off point for beginning your organizational chart creation process.

Choose whether you want to create a public, restricted or private organizational chart. After clicking the button to begin the process, you will be asked whether you want to create a public chart that anyone on the Internet can see and edit, a restricted chart that anyone can see but only you (or your designee) can edit or a private chart that only you can access. Select the response most appropriate for your needs, assign a name to your chart and click "Create New." Please note that some options may require you to create a free account with, or log in to, the CogMap website in order to secure your chart.

Click "Add New Person" at the top of the screen. After answering the initial questions (regarding privacy as described above) and logging in if necessary, the website will present you with a blank organizational chart. To add the first person to your chart, click "Add New Person" on the top row of buttons and supply the person's name and position within the organization. Click "Save" to move forward or "Cancel" if you make a mistake. Repeat this process for each person you wish to appear on your organizational chart. When you click "Save," the person's name and position will appear in the list of unmapped persons at the bottom of the screen.

Position members of the organization to represent the organizational structure. From the list of unmapped persons at the bottom of the page, select an individual and drag them into the charting area in the middle of the screen. If the person is a top level employee (like a CEO or director), drag him to the company name to put him at the top of the list. To add a direct report, drag the subordinate to just under the boss' name; the website software will adjust the person's graphical representation to reflect their status in the organization. Continue this step until everyone in the organization is represented on the chart.

Save your chart. To save your chart and the changes you have made, click the button labeled "Save as Latest Version" at the top left of the page. You may be asked to create an account or log in to the CogMap website to proceed with this step. After saving, your online organizational chart is complete and ready to be viewed. You or your colleagues can add comments or make adjustments as necessary.

Tip

  • check Have an idea of your organizational structure in mind before beginning the process to ease the chart creation. If you have your organizational information (including first name, last name and position) in a comma separated value (CSV) file, you can upload the bulk information to the CogMap utility using the "Import CSV File" button in the top row of options. You can view an organizational directory or see an alternative view of your chart by using the grey buttons on the right side of the screen. If you wish to share your chart with colleagues, you can send them a link directly from the site by clicking the "Send to a Friend" link at the top of the page.

Warning

  • close Because your organizational chart will be visible online, be sure not to include any sensitive information (such as home contact information, upcoming layoffs or hiring decisions) in your online organizational chart unless the information has been properly communicated to the public.

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About the Author

Keith Evans has been writing professionally since 1994 and now works from his office outside of Orlando. He has written for various print and online publications and wrote the book, "Appearances: The Art of Class." Evans holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication from Rollins College and is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership from Andrew Jackson University.