Organization for your organization

OrgPlus 6 puts some intelligence into workforce modeling

OrgPlus 6 Professional

Performance: A

Ease of use: A-

Features: B+

Value: B

Price: $295

Reviewer's comments: A great tool for getting your office personnel defined and organized

Contact: HumanConcepts, Sausalito, Calif.,(888) 821-1261,

As a department grows, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of job responsibilities and hierarchies. When it comes time for one of the dreaded officewide reorganizations, that difficulty can escalate into a nightmare.

The new OrgPlus 6 Professional from HumanConcepts is an application that offers a variety of organizational charting and workforce modeling capabilities in an easy-to-use interface. And although workforce modeling could be considered less than glamorous, with a tool as powerful as this one an agency can gain fresh insight into its human resources needs and capabilities.

We found the system requirements refreshingly modest for an enterprise software package. OrgPlus will run on any Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server machine with any Pentium processor and only 256MB of memory.

Data import is one of the most robust features of OrgPlus 6. We were able to convert data from Excel, Access, SQL, an ODBC source and even Active Directory to an OrgPlus chart. You have the option of making one huge chart or breaking it up into sub-charts for more flexibility.

The underlying OrgPlus data table can have any number of fields for each personnel record, but records must have a unique identifier (a name, identification number or even an e-mail address) in the Position field. The identifier populates the Reports To field throughout the table in order to establish the hierarchy of the chart.

Moving someone around the organization as their job changes is easy: Just drag their box to a new location in the hierarchy. The entire chart is then re-formated with the box in question in its new spot. Also, you can create subcharts at any time with a couple of mouse clicks.

Microsoft integration takes ease-of-use a step further. With the OrgPlus Toolbar, you can use Word, PowerPoint, Excel or Visio to create, edit and view OrgPlus charts. And as you might expect, OrgPlus objects can be embedded in Office apps.

After you've created or imported a chart, you can fine-tune its appearance. We found an impressive number of templates to alter the color scheme and overall look of a chart. You can even set conditional styles that change an entry's look based on the value of a certain field. For instance, if an employee is a part-timer, their box in the org chart can be a certain color.

As impressive as we found the import capability, the export options are every bit as good. OrgPlus can publish to many standards, including Adobe Acrobat, HTML and Microsoft Word. In addition, it can also create a PowerPoint presentation with a slide for each subchart, plus a title slide and table of contents.

Publishing a chart online is also straightforward. Using a free plug-in, users can create the same rich charts they would use at their desktops and share them over the Web. A runtime plug-in then loads on the recipient's system so they can interact with the chart. Alternatively, you can use OrgPlus' scheduler function to periodically send out charts via e-mail. And recipients who aren't running OrgPlus can download the free reader.

OrgPlus 6 isn't a static charting program. It has analytic functions that can help agencies do more than model their workforces. For example, because a data field can have an unlimited number of fields associated with it, you can generate all manner of reports, such as salary lists. The software also lets you calculate aggregate functions such as sums, averages or standard deviations within the application, without having to go to a spreadsheet or database. If the information is too much to import, you can put in links to where it resides in another file.

Moreover, because boxes can be moved to form new relationships instantly, we found 'what-if' scenarios easy to create. OrgPlus 6 also has a handy chart comparison function that's extremely convenient in situations where there are multiple versions of an org chart, and their differences are not apparent. The comparison function produces an Excel spreadsheet that pinpoints whether a box was moved, deleted, added or edited.

Despite all OrgPlus 6 does, we thought the list price of $295 was a little on the high side. However, the minimal system requirements could translate into savings for a network administrator's budget.

The company offers a 45-day free trial, so give it a spin first. Or you could explore the company's hosted version if you don't want to run the software yourself. And although it wasn't available when we conducted our review, it's worth noting that HumanConcepts recently released an OrgPlus version 6.0.1, which includes a variety of new features the company says were designed to comply with Section 508 accessibility requirements.

Whichever way you go, we found the latest version of OrgPlus to be more powerful than the usual charting program.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.


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