My Organization Chart – User Experience

SharePoint Server 2010 has a web part on the My Site page called ‘My Organizational Chart’.  This web part (and the related Silverlight control on the Organization tab) use the ‘manager’ field in the Profile database to show the company org chart from the perspective of the My Site that you are visiting.  For example – if you are looking at ‘Bob’s My Site, the org chart shows Bob’s manager, Bob’s co-workers (folks that report to the same manager), and people that report to Bob.  It may also show further up the ‘tree’ (manager’s managers, etc.…) – which is where this tidbit comes in. 

What I haven’t been able to find thus far is any reference to the functionality that we recently noticed: If two different users are viewing the same person’s My Site, they may not see the exact same content in the My Organization Chart web part. No differences in the people or relationships, but in the scope of the results. One user may see the org chart go all the way to the CEO/President, while another user may see only the My Site owner’s manager. 

Again, this is likely documented somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet.  What I think the web part is doing is showing the current user us enough content to be able to draw a line / see the relationship between themselves and the My Site owner.  

So, if you are in IT and are looking at someone else in IT, the Org Chart will only show as far as the common IT manager.  If you (someone in IT) is looking at someone that works in Marketing, the Org Chart may go all the way up to the CEO because both the CIO/IT Director and the Marketing Director report to the CEO and that is the ‘lowest common denominator’ as it were. 

Of course, there also seem to be exceptions – and I likely haven’t seen them all.  One, however, is if you search for and are looking at a person who IS a manager in your reporting structure.  In that case you will also see their manager in the Org Chart web part. 

Note: You can still click on other people in the Org Chart web part or jump to the Organization tab and navigate up, down and across the org chart data to your heart’s content.  

I think this is another example where Microsoft did something that’s pretty cool and forward thinking – it just works. However it may cause some frustration with users (kind of like ‘social distance’ in Search).  I’ve been looking at these pages for years and had never noticed this until a particularly attentive QA person brought it up because they by default expect the results to be the same for every person. In most cases, that’s not an unreal expectation.


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