Functional, but not pretty

HumanConcepts’ OrgPlus 6 Professional is a well-trained one-trick pony. And it does that one trick — creating organizational charts — very well, once you take the time to get familiar with the program.

A graphics package with spreadsheet capabilities, OrgPlus is geared toward presenting employee data. You could chart other things — ideas or workflow — using its ample drawing, alignment, and formatting tools, but you would not be taking full advantage of the app. I tested a prerelease version of the US$295 OrgPlus 6 Professional, designed to chart 100 to 1000 employees.

You can loosely break up the program’s new features into formatting, data manipulation, and distribution tools. Formatting enhancements include a free-form tool for putting a box anywhere on the page. This tool matches a corresponding one in Microsoft Visio, OrgPlus’s main competitor. You can collapse multiple boxes into a single box to save screen space, and you can add pictures to boxes.

Hotspots and more

Hotspots let you add data to a chart without cluttering it up. After you include specific employee information in the hotspot, you can then assign the hotspot to an area of one or more chart boxes. When you mouse over the designated box area (and wait a few seconds), this information appears in a rollover graphic.

You can import data easily from Excel and ODBC databases using the Import Data wizard. Once in OrgPlus, the data populates the fields, and the app creates a hierarchical chart. In the window’s right pane, you can then manipulate how you view and work with different subsets of data.

New to OrgPlus 6 is the ability to use Boolean-like parameters to search through fields to create custom reports; unfortunately, you can’t save the parameters of a search. The new version has improved its Excel-style formulas and added context-sensitive chart legends, too. A legend could note, for example, that the box for any employee who makes over $100,000 is highlighted in red. OrgPlus also lets you combine multiple division charts into one large chart.

I found OrgPlus easy to use once I read the Help menu tutorials and waded through the 412-page PDF manual (boxed copies have a printed manual). These aids helped me overcome the software’s penchant for burying features deep in menus and behind unintuitive toolbar button icons. The interface is functional but not pretty; ditto for the templates and graphic formatting. Though I tested the program on a fairly robust desktop PC, the software was sluggish when I handled large charts, and I encountered a few screen refresh snafus. HumanConcepts says it has no other reported instances of these issues and suspects a software conflict on my PC.

OrgPlus 6 Professional is a solid package. If org charts are your thing, get it. If you use OrgPlus 5 Professional and have to massage and present large data sets aggregated from multiple divisions, version 6 is a worthy upgrade.

HumanConcepts OrgPlus 6 Professional

PCW rating: 79, Good

This niche program isn’t glamorous, but it does what it does — massive organizational charts — very well.

Price when reviewed: $295