Functional Chart: The Ultimate Guide to Using Functional Charts

Businesses use organization charts to show relational hierarchies. This is most useful in large corporations when it is unclear who is supposed to report to whom or who is responsible for certain activities. Smaller businesses usually use them to display how they organize themselves for informational purposes. There are various ways to structure organizational charts and various types of information gleaned from them. A common type of organizational chart is a functional chart. This guide will explain what a functional chart is, how to make one, and what kind of software can be used to create one.

What is a functional chart?

A functional chart organizes workers in a business based on skills, expertise, and specialty. It also shows the basic hierarchy of the organization, with the head of the business at the top followed by the top decision-makers. Employees are stationed under certain managers based on their job descriptions.

For example, an IT specialist would be responsible for software updates and computer security, while someone in HR would be responsible for employee onboarding, training, and complaints. The functional chart would display this information in a graphical format.

How to make a functional chart

When making a functional chart, you'll start with the manager who controls a specific department and the CEO to whom they all report and answer. There are several shapes a functional chart can take from top to bottom to right to left, but there are a few things to keep in mind while creating your chart.

  • Rule of three: Functional charts are meant to make it easier to comprehend the organizational structure. To this end, making a chart that goes more than three levels deep into the organization will cause more confusion than it will answer.
  • Communication: Functional charts separate people by departments and can further the siloing of information and interdepartmental rivalries. If you want your business to grow, it is incumbent upon you to create a healthy work environment where communication between departments is expected and encouraged.
  • The big picture: Functional charts can also make employees myopic to the needs of their own department over the whole structure. Ensure that all your employees see the big picture and understand the larger corporate vision that they are working toward.

Functional chart software

Functional chart software is useful as you can rename and manipulate categories easily as your business pivots. However, when you are purchasing functional software, there are several things to keep in mind.

  • Price: You want software that has the most functionality at the cheapest price point.
  • Reviews: Look at how other organizations review software similar to your own before you buy it. Often businesses that use the software will find weaknesses you never thought of.
  • Importable: You want to look for software that allows you to import a database of your employees directly. You don't want to spend your money paying an employee to enter names into the chart position by position.
  • Graphics: Graphics are a nice feature of functional chart software and allows newly onboarded employees to put faces to names lessening confusion.
  • Printable: Ensure that the software you are using has a print function compatible with your printer and that you can share the chart easily with your entire organization.
  • Integration: You'll want to buy functional chart software that integrates nicely with other software packages you have already purchased.


Functional charts are great ways to display how your business is organized graphically. The key to a good functional chart is keeping it as simple as possible and not letting it incidentally create inter-departmental rivalries. In addition, software that you purchase to create functional charts should be at a good price point, have excellent reviews and work well with your existing software. If you follow these recommendations, your functional chart will improve the efficiency of your workplace.

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