Creating Org Charts by Importing Data

Perhaps the easiest way to create an org chart is to generate it automatically from a data file that lists all of the employees and who they report to.

Import org chart data

Although most software used for drawing provides tools for building an organization chart manually, they can't import a data file to create an org chart automatically.

This feature is built into SmartDraw. This article will walk you through the steps of drawing an org chart automatically using the org chart data importing tool.

Building Your Chart Automatically from a Data File

SmartDraw can automatically build your organization chart from a list of employees formatted into simple rows and columns. Here are the five steps for importing org chart data into SmartDraw:

  1. Build a data file
  2. Import the data file into a SmartDraw org chart
  3. Updating the org chart data after importing
  4. Adding more fields
  5. Importing photos and attachments into an org chart

Step 1. Build a Data File

You can use Excel® to create a data file for your org chart.

  1. Label the first three columns in an Excel spreadsheet "Title", "Manager" and "Name".
  2. In the first row under the title enter the title of the job at the top of the chart. If this is the CEO type "CEO".
  3. The top position has no manager so leave the entry for this column blank.
  4. Enter the name of the person who holds the CEO position in the "name" column.
  5. Repeat this for the second person, but in the "manager" column, enter the title of this person's manager. For the COO position, the manager is the CEO. Continue this process until you have completed the data table that will be used for org chart importing. It should look something like this:
Org chart data

Specifying the manager for each person lets SmartDraw determine where in the chart to place them when it imports the org chart data.

Save the file from Excel in comma delimited (.csv) format. You'll find this option when you select "Save As."

You can use other applications, such as PeopleSoft® or SAP® R/3® to create the data file.

Outlook® and other contact management programs will let you save a list of contacts in a .csv file. Some of these options can be time-saving shortcuts in creating an org chart data import file.

Save data

Step 2: Importing the Data File into an Org Chart

Use SmartDraw to open a new org chart file to receive your data import. Click on the button to "Import from File" on the bottom left of the screen.

Import control

Choose the .csv file you created in Excel or whatever program you used. SmartDraw shows you the org chart data that it is has targeted for importing.

Data file

If you created your .csv file as described, then there is nothing to do in this dialog. Just press OK. SmartDraw now imports the data and builds the org chart, automatically. This is how it appears:

Org chart example

Step 3: Updating Your Org Chart

To update the org chart, simply make changes right in the data file. Now, follow the same steps to re-import the updated data into the same org chart. Any changes you made to its appearance are preserved. If positions have been added within your organization, they will be reflected in the updated chart. Positions that have been eliminated or moved will also be removed or re-aligned, when you re-import your new org chart data file.

Step 4: Adding Additional Fields

Any other columns you add to your data file can be imported too. Adding a phone number column adds the phone number in each box:

Add data field

Importing this file into the same org chart as before adds the phone number:

Org chart with added fields

Step 5: Importing Photos and Attachments

Import a photo for each person in the org chart by adding a column to the data file with the name "Photo". For each row enter the path to the photo file in the column. The path can be relative to the path of the data file.

You can also link an external file, like a job description, to a person's box. To do this, just add a column named "Link" and include the path to the file (this can even be a web address) for each row in the table. During the org chart import process, SmartDraw will automatically add a hyperlink symbol in any box containing a linked file. Clicking on the symbol in the org chart opens the linked file.

Org chart with links