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Can You Attach a Face to Every Name

May 1, 1999
Related Topics: Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS/HRIS), Featured Article
If you’ve worked in a company with more than a handful of employees,then at some point you're likely to have thought, "It'd be nice to be able to searchby a co-worker’s first name and instantly locate that person’s contactinformation right from my desktop."

Their extension number, e-mail address, the correct spelling oftheir last name, who they answer to, what project they are currently assigned to, theirsecretary’s name, the department they are in ...

All these bits of information are commonly needed by your employees day in and day out.

Now imagine being able to pull up their data as well as their photo! Having the powerto associate a name to every face in your organization is a powerful tool, indeed. Thistype of intracorporate networking can not only impact the way you see others, but the wayother see you, as well.

The InteractiveOrgChart (IOC) takes this functionality one step further and allows the user todirectly e-mail the individual (or the group of individuals) from that one centrallocation. Furthermore, users can travel throughout the intranet using URL buttons createdby the OrgChart. Add even more value by posting employee manuals and corporate policies onWeb pages that are accessible through the OrgChart. It shouldn't be too hard to envisionEntraspan’s Interactive OrgChart creating a focal point for your corporate intranetas it has for so many others.

In addition, the Intranet OrgChart can impact the way you feel about your relationshipwithin the company. Visualizing yourself as a fundamental part of a larger whole lendsitself to a feeling of belonging and unity. Nothing promotes teamwork like employees whoappreciate, respect and depend upon one another.

And consider locating a familiar face on the corporate intranet’s organizationalchart and finally discovering that person’s name! The next time you encounter thatsame man in the elevator or that nice woman in line at the local deli, you'll finally beable to greet them by name—never mind the fact they told you once before and you'veforgotten it!

The Interactive OrgChartfrom Entraspan, Inc. is a networkedenterprise application that attaches to your corporate database and displays selectedinformation to your employees through a browser. The information displayed is oftendefined by a human resource executive and implemented by your company’s databaseadministrator. Any amount of information (as much or as little) in your database can bedisseminated through the OrgChart. A free evaluation download is available tointegrate the OrgChart into your environment and get a first hand look at the many ways itcan empower your employees to be more self-sufficient, promote unity, and otherwisebenefit your organization.

You may wonder, "How do I offer different levels of information to differentusers?" The Interactive OrgChart allows for passwordprotection at the chart level as well as the individual level. What this means is thatthe CEO and HR executives may retain the power to see and edit all information, managersmay be able to view (but have selected editing ability) a subset of this information, andemployees may be able to view an entirely different subset and edit nothing.

In addition, multiple charts can be used to represent different types of data. Anemployee chart is simply the most common use, but it is only the beginning. Executives maywish to implement charts for succession management, product lines, facilities,suppliers/key clients, etc. The common thread between each of these password protectedcharts are that they're used to display information that becomes progressively moresegmented. And if the OrgChart is incapable of delivering a feature that is specific toyour organization, then Entraspan is there to provide customization services.

The following is an inside look at how Dura Pharmaceuticals has implementedEntraspan’s Interactive OrgChart as their corporate solution. Dura employs manyremote salespeople, and therefore, their OrgChart has more people displayed on the chartthan those who access it. This corporate structure is the exact opposite of how auniversity might use the OrgChart to post a few hundred faculty for thousands of studentsto access.

One striking thing about Dura is their awareness of the importance of bringing theiremployees together as a family. One quick tour of Dura’s corporate office evidencesthis in that their corporate walls are adorned with portraits of their offsite accountrepresentatives.

Dura Pharmaceuticals

Company Background and IOC Administration:
Dura Pharmaceuticals provides pharmaceutical products with a respiratory concentration tophysicians and their patients nationwide. The company has loaded IOC on their server sothat all employees can access the graphical display from their desktops. About 900 nodesare currently being displayed and minimums of 25 people are thought to be accessing theapplication at any one time.

Problem Experienced:
Dura had two goals. They needed to provide up-to-date OrgCharts and they also neededto centralize the company’s personnel information. They also wanted individuals to beable to access their own information and interact with co-workers from one commoncorporatewide interface. Another important element was that this interface had to beextremely user-friendly so employees would not be burdened with having to learn a newprogram. This application had to be able to attach itself to the company’s existingOracle database and had to be able to be viewed through Internet Explorer 4.02. It had tobe able to work with Windows 95, Windows NT, HP, and Unix. However, Dura’s mostcritical need was to locate a mechanism that would allow employees to access real-timepersonnel information.

Substandard Solutions:
Dura had been using presentation software add-ons as well as a popular drawing programto write its charts. These chart drawing software tools could easily create connectedboxes and text, but neither of them had the capability to interface with a centraldatabase. Charts quickly became obsolete and useless. Not only did these charts oftendisplay misinformation, but they required hours to update. And as far as locating acentral interface to the personnel files, nothing existed. Employees had to go see HR orask around to get valid information into or out of the corporate database.

The Reason IOC Was Deemed To Be a Better Solution:
What makes the Interactive OrgChart different is just that—it’s interactive!At first glance, it's often thought of as a tool to draw OrgCharts, but IOC isn't adrawing tool at all. It's more correct to say that it is a database management tool thathappens to display its data in a very appealing and user-friendly OrgChart structure. Ituses bright colors and employees pictures to provide a logical and easy way to interactwith otherwise boring text files. The key element is that people are attracted to theproduct so they use it, and by doing so, current, accurate and uniform information isconsistently and easily accessible to them.

Main Benefits that IOC Provided:
For Dura, the key benefit is that employee information has finally become centralized.Now the company’s database is updated through IOC, and both are updated in tandem.Personnel information has been unified and accurate information is now being disseminatedthroughout Dura. As a result, overhead was reduced because tedious rewrites were no longernecessary.

Unexpected Benefits that IOC Provided:
IOC "pulled together the Dura community, making it possible for people to attacha name to a face." When larger companies decide to include photos in their OrgChartas Dura has, executives and employees alike generally respond with enthusiasm. They findthey no longer smile benignly at that same individual in the elevator—rather, theysay, "Hi Bob!"

Jason Liebrecht
Dura Pharmaceuticals
Systems Analyst/Webmaster

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