Best Practices in Charting

Charts are among the most powerful tools to represent an organization to board members, auditors, investors, and shareholders. An effective org chart can serve a multitude of purposes, including showing ownership connections within a corporate structure, historical relationships and other details. 

However, not all organization charts are created equal, with some presentations falling short of their goal or taking too much time because of ineffective techniques, poor design, inaccuracies or inadequate tools. Below we discuss the best practices which can bring your org charts to the next level and how entity management software like Athennian can make org charting your business so much easier.

Best Practices for Charting

Org charts can work for many uses by representing your business from different perspectives. Today, an organizational chart is an indispensable part of a business plan or investor presentation, providing a birds'-eye view of the whole organization.

The choice of approaches, tools and techniques for building an org chart would largely depend on its purpose, which should always be the starting point. After the goal is defined, you can decide on a layout for your chart and further enhance it with color coding and geometric shapes, representing different types of entities and relationships.

Define the Purpose of Your Chart

The purpose of an org chart would determine its layout and scope, the information to be included and its other characteristics. For example, you may choose to org chart a whole organization across all regions to represent its size or geographic scope. Or, you may need to chart only the corporate subsidiaries of a certain parent company that may call for another level of detail.

Select the Level of Detail for Your Chart

When the purpose of the org chart is defined, it is much easier to choose the level of detail it should reveal. A modern organization consisting of multiple legal entities is a multifaceted construct, so in many cases, it is best to restrict the scope of data reflected on the org chart to avoid overcomplicating your presentation.

For example, a chart representing an organization with hundreds of entities across several jurisdictions does not need to reflect more than the name of the entity and the ownership relationship. Meanwhile, when someone wants to have a closer look at subsidiaries of a particular holding structure, they may want to see the type of each entity, its tax structure or even its formation date or other registration data.

Use Color of Geometric Shapes to Represent Various Types of Entities

The practice of org charting is assisted by color-coding and using geometric shapes to represent different structures. Thus, geographic org charts can use different colors to refer to legal entities registered in various jurisdictions. Similarly, organizations might use geometric shapes, such as rectangles, triangles and others, to denote different tax structures or types of legal entities.

Regularly Update Your Data

The data used to draft an org chart are critical for making an accurate presentation and need a regular update, as well as assigning them to specific dates to ensure they are relevant. For example, when doing an org chart showing historical relationships among entities, it is essential to have the correct dates assigned to each dataset. An org chart based on old data about legal entities would provide a skewed look and fall short of its goal of representing the business structure.

Split the Chart to View a Specific Part of the Organization

As organizations grow in size, so do their org charts. Sometimes, the org charts of the whole business become so overwhelming that it makes no sense to depict an entire structure other than to represent its sheer size. 

In such cases, it can be much more effective to split the whole chart into smaller charts representing particular geography, industry or project. Breaking the total org chart into smaller chunks allows to add more details about each legal entity and provide for easier visual perception and analysis.

How Using Automation Tools Can Help with Your Charts? 

Best automation tools can do exactly what their name suggests: automate your processes, increase the quality of your data and save considerable time and effort required for org charting. 

Avoid Wasting Time on Searching for Data

One of the examples of how automation tools can save time for your org charting can be demonstrated with Athennian entity management software. In Athennian, the org charts are automatically populated based on data stored about each legal entity on the platform. This functionality saves considerable time, which would be otherwise wasted searching for information about each legal entity and entering it manually into the org chart.

Review Connections and Type of Ownership

The Athennian org charting module allows viewing different types of ownership much more clearly. It allows to show:

• percentage ownership, 

• upward and downward connections showing both entity's subsidiaries and parents,

• multi-parent ownership when more than one entity holds an equity interest in the subsidiary,

• circular ownership when a child entity holds interest in a parent, 

• non-managed entities,

• shares and much more. 

Customize and Toggle Details On and Off to View Exactly What Is Needed

Athennian enables viewing detailed information about each legal entity within the organizational structure by toggling the details on and off to show the necessary data. This function allows displaying all relevant entity information such as its registration ID number, tax number, formation date and other data or to show only consolidated charts free from unnecessary details. 

In addition, Athennian org charts allow yet another level of customization even before downloading the resulting file by changing the color scheme for any jurisdiction where an entity is registered. 

Use Historical Data to View a Chart at a Specific Date

In some cases, it is necessary to view the org chart 'as-at' a specific date which is impossible if the historical data are overwritten with each new update, for example, when entity management is done manually. 

In Athennian, it is possible to quickly access, export and share historical relationship data drawing on the datasets stored on the platform for all previous periods.

Quickly Access, Export and Download in Different Formats

Last but not least, Athennian supports multiple formats for org charts, making it easy to share files among multiple users working with virtually any type of software. In addition to the previously available SVG format, the updated Athenian charting module allows downloading charts in PNG and PDF format.

Learn More About Charting with Athennian

Org charting your business with entity management software like Athennian helps to provide a comprehensive visual overview of the whole organization with any number of legal entities at a click of a button, saving many hours of manual work. For more information about the functionality of the Athennian charting engine and the most recent updates, please don't hesitate to request a customized demo with our business entity management experts.

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