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When you are new in an organisation there is a fair chance you may not know much about its sections. A good new starter package will give you details of the organisation structure and who leads each section.

Understanding the various sections in your workplace can give you two immediate beneifits:

  • You may find it easier to find the right people and will not need to keep asking colleagues.
  • You are more credible when dealing with other sections because you already know something about them.

In some organisations the structure changes regularly. An employer using modern systems will probably provide you with an online chart that is powered directly from their central system. This saves you from having to keep a paper copy which could become out of date and also saves administrators having to remember to issue new copies.

Organisation charts are important to large organisations that have specialist areas and need these to work together in a co-ordinated manner. Think of a structure as a grouping together of different jobs into teams or sections that work together. If you just remember one message please let it be that different units in the same organisation must work together in a co-ordinated manner. The opposite can be quite terrible.

Some modern thinking suggests there is a need for leaner companies with fewer layers. In the example on this site we have deliberately simulated a university so that you can see a complex multi-layered structure.

Why use a made up university and not manufacturing, construction, retail or some other type of organisation you might ask? The answer is that everyone will hopefully be able to find something in a university that they can relate to.

We can stop here. If you have understood this and the sample organisation chart then you now know enough about organisation structures to explain with confidence the basics of groupings into specialist areas and parent and child relationships.


If you are a person who wants to work in a team that administers organisation structures there are some matters that you might wish to think about. It is important to always understand the human sensitivities that underpin information management.

Each top level organisation unit is headed up by a person who is responsible for that specialist area. This person in theory then sets out and agrees the sections that report to them and the heads of those areas can in turn set out further sections within their areas. It is very easy for orgnaisation structures to appear like military hierarchies, this may not always be helpful in some environments.

The above could go on through many levels. A problem with this is the fact that it requires a high level of maintenance. The more levels in an organisation the more work needs to be done to keep them up to date. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to be referring to a team or a section that stopped existing the previous month or year. So even though systems allow the creation of many levels it is probably best to try to keep to five or less in any one specialist area.

Looking closely at specialist areas it is sometimes possible for a manager to decide that some sections or teams would benefit from being merged together. This is handled by way of a reorganisation and can at times mean that areas of duplication are removed from the structure. It looks logical on paper but the effects on people can be massive if jobs disappear or change. Good practice is for managers to always ensure that people have been spoken to and given a chance to comment about or even better contribute to major changes that might happen.

One of the larger difficulties is how an organisation determines which sections fit within specialist areas. It can be difficult if someone suddenly notices that they are actually part of a specialist area that is headed by someone they strongly disagree with. What does the organisation do? Does an upset person have the authority to demand that their section is made a seperate specialist area in its own right? or does the organisation just say this is the way it is get on with it?

And finally an interview question and answer for anyone planning to be a systems administrator.

Question: You are asked over coffee one evening to adjust the organisation structure, what would be important for you to remember before proceeding?

Answer: Systems administrators should avoid changing the organisation structure without the appropriate authority. The request should normally be in a format that you can keep for future reference. Why is that an issue? I leave you to ponder that.


If you are planning to get into a systems administration role here is a little bit of background on how data gets displayed in an organisation chart.

The information on each of the organisation units is stored in a database.

A database is simply an organised collection of information. In this context we are referring to a computerised database.

A call or query to the database brings back a series of rows of data which show each unit's name, its code and the code of its parent. It is actually that simple. The web page then draws together each of the top level parents and associates them with their children and children of their children and so on.

When displayed on the web page each sub level in a relationship is indented slightly so that there is a visual indication of parents and children.

Below is a live extract from our database of the very top level of the sample organisation. Look carefully at the unit codes and the parent codes and get familiar with the relationships. Note how the top unit has no parent, then notice how for example the top unit's code is the parent for its immediate children.

Unit Code Unit Name Parent Code
100001University of Small Bites0
100028Corporate Support Services100001
100077Faculty of Arts and Humanities100001
100106Faculty of Law100001
106398Faculty of Medicine, BioScience and Psychology100001
100158Faculty of Science and Engineering100001
100166Faculty of Social Sciences100001
100051Corporate Affairs and Planning Division100028
100041Estates and Facilities Division100028
100047Finance Division100028
100059Human Resources Division100028
109331Information Technology Division100028
100197Residential and Commercial Services Division100028
100029Student and Academic Services Division100028
100062Vice-Chancellor's Office100028

Table showing an extract of some rows from the database

From looking at the extract see if you can work out which section the Finance Division is within (i.e. which section is the parent of the Finance Division?), then check on the main page to see if you are correct.

Key Legislation Underpinning Employment Contracts

The Employment Rights Act 1996 underpins contracts of employment in the United Kingdom.

The terminolgy to use is a written statement of particulars of employment. This summarises the main particulars of the employment relationship and must according to the legislation be given within two months of the person's first day of service.

Whilst the law states two months it would actually be poor form to encourage a person to give up an existing job or prior state of affairs without actually presenting them with the contractual terms of their new role until two months after it has started. The law is quite flexible but if we are truly focused on the quality of the engagement with the prospective member of staff the written statement of particulars really should be issued as soon as possible after the decision to appoint has been made.

Issuing the written statement of particulars at the earliest point means the person is aware of what they being contracted to and can clarify any uncertainties before accepting. Starting a relationship in this manner where possible helps ensure a more harmonious contract.

The key aspects of a written statement of particulars are as follows:

  1. The names of the employer and employee.
  2. The title of the job which the employee is employed to do or a brief description of the work for which they are employed.
  3. Where the employment is not intended to be permanent, the period for which it is expected to continue.
  4. Either the place of work or, where the employee is required or permitted to work at various places, an indication of that and of the address of the employer.
  5. The date when the employment began.
  6. The date on which the employee’s period of continuous employment began (taking into account any employment with a previous employer which counts towards that period). The continuous employment date is often the same as the start date. Where it is earlier this may give the new starter certain employment rights that come with longer service.
  7. The scale or rate of remuneration/pay or the method of calculating this.
  8. The intervals at which remuneration is paid (that is, weekly, monthly or other specified intervals).
  9. Any terms and conditions relating to hours of work.
  10. Entitlement to holidays, including public holidays, and holiday pay.
  11. How incapacity for work due to sickness or injury will be handled, including any provision for sick pay.
  12. Pensions and pension schemes.
  13. The length of notice which the employee is obliged to give and entitled to receive to terminate his contract of employment.
  14. Any collective agreements which directly affect the terms and conditions of the employment. In large organisations trade unions negotiate with the employer on behalf of staff, the agreements they reach with the employer are called collective agreements.

Key to the Organisation Chart

An explanation of the symbols used

collapsed icon This icon represents a unit that has child units. Click it to see the child units.
expanded icon This icon means that a unit has its child units visible. Click to close the child units.
Unit name Click on a unit to get more information on it. If the unit has child units it will open a page showing them too.

Organisation structure details Clicking this icon takes you to some basic theory on organisation charts and structure.
collapse all button This button is Collapse All and when clicked closes all units that have been opened up.
expand all button This button is Expand All and when clicked opens all units so you will see every aspect of the tree.

Welcome to Learning in Small Bites

YouTube page

Welcome to the free website for people who want to learn about the technology used for keeping staffing details in offices. Using this site you can learn as much from the comfort of your arm chair as you could in two years at work. Here is your chance to practice with systems that you may only have heard about. Get a behind the scenes view of what happens with your information and how it is stored.

This site is aimed at people from school leaving age and above who may be interested in working with what are known as Human Resources (HR) information systems.

If we can help even one person to secure a job in HR or specialise in HR systems as a result of using our free development site then the creators of HRMISolutions and Learning in Small Bites will have achieved what we set out to do.


You will get the best out of this site if you have:

  • A little experience of using a computer, a tablet or a smart phone.
  • A desire to help people to use less effort to achieve more.
  • An interest in office systems (don't worry if you are not sure at the start).


Structure and Organisation Units

YouTube page The structure is the frame or spine of an organisation.

If you have not worked anywhere before feel free to ask anyone you know about the structure of the place where they work.
A place of work might be broken down into departments and departments might have teams. Other models have a break down into divisions, then departments then sections.

There are lots of different ways that organisations can be structured, all that is suggested here is if the place of work employs more than ten people it is likely that there is at least one lead person and some areas of specialisation that need to work together in a co-ordinated manner.

Our model will be a fictitious university (it does not exist). It has five faculties, a central support service and an office for the vice-chancellor who is the head of the university. We will use this structure throughout the site.
Below is a made up organisation structure for you to use. woman pointing at chart icons Click away below on the icons       and get used to seeing parent and child relationships and different sections of an organisation.

Expand All Units Collapse All Units


To learn about the icons used in the organisation chart please click here

  • University of Small Bites Drill down
    • Corporate Support Services Drill down
      • Corporate Affairs and Planning Division Drill down
        • Admissions Drill down
        • Development and Alumni Relations Drill down
        • Events and Public Engagement Drill down
        • International Office Drill down
        • Marketing Communications Drill down
        • Planning Office Drill down
        • Press Office Drill down
      • Estates and Facilities Division Drill down
        • Access and Identity Management Drill down
        • Gardens Drill down
        • Hospitality Drill down
        • Maintenance Drill down
        • Postal Services Drill down
        • Room Booking Drill down
        • Safety Services Office Drill down
        • Security Services Drill down
        • Sports and Pool - Campus Drill down
        • Telephones Drill down
        • Waste Disposal Drill down
      • Finance Division Drill down
        • Audit Drill down
        • Enterprise and Business Development Drill down
        • Financial Accounting Drill down
          • Accounts Payable Drill down
          • Banking Drill down
          • Taxation and Commercial Acccounting Drill down
        • Financial Systems and Reporting Drill down
        • Procurement Drill down
        • Research Grants Administration Drill down
          • Post-Award Drill down
          • Pre-Award Drill down
      • Human Resources Division Drill down
        • Equalities Unit Drill down
        • HR Consultancy Drill down
          • Motivation and Engagement Drill down
          • Performance Management Drill down
        • HR Information Office Drill down
          • Analytics and Forecasting Drill down
          • HR Systems Help Desk Drill down
          • Thin Client Systems Drill down
        • HR Operations Drill down
        • Payroll Drill down
        • Recruitment Drill down
        • Staff Counselling and Wellbeing Service Drill down
        • Staff Development Unit Drill down
        • Staff Nursery Drill down
      • Information Technology Division Drill down
        • Application Support and Reporting Services Drill down
        • Corporate Information Services Drill down
          • Artificial Intelligence Design Drill down
          • Information Animation Drill down
          • Learning Teaching and Web Drill down
          • Research and Development Drill down
        • Customer Services Drill down
        • Database Management Services Drill down
        • Development and Integration Services Drill down
        • Infrastructure Services Drill down
        • Staff Information Services Drill down
        • Student Information Services Drill down
      • Residential and Commercial Services Division Drill down
        • Accommodation Drill down
          • Accommodation Office Drill down
          • Accommodation- Self Catering Drill down
            • Ace Court Drill down
            • Argos Houses Drill down
            • Freemans Houses Drill down
            • Moores Houses Drill down
          • Halls of Residence Drill down
            • Beech Hall Drill down
            • Cedar Hall Drill down
            • Oak Hall Drill down
        • Bookshops Drill down
          • Bookshop - Campus 1 Drill down
          • Bookshop - Campus 2 Drill down
        • Catering Drill down
      • Student and Academic Services Division Drill down
        • Academic Practice Unit Drill down
        • Accessability Centre Drill down
        • Careers Service Drill down
        • Counselling Drill down
        • Governance Office Drill down
        • Quality Office Drill down
        • Registry Drill down
        • Research Support Drill down
        • Student Healthy Living Service Drill down
        • Student Recruitment Drill down
        • Student Support Service Drill down
        • Welfare Drill down
      • Vice-Chancellor's Office Drill down
    • Faculty of Arts and Humanities Drill down
      • English Drill down
      • History of Art and Film Drill down
      • Museum Studies Drill down
      • School of Archaeology and Ancient History Drill down
        • Division of Ancient History Drill down
        • Division of Archaeology Drill down
      • School of Historical Studies Drill down
        • School of Historical Studies American Study Drill down
        • School of Historical Studies History Drill down
      • School of Modern European Languages Drill down
        • Czech Drill down
        • Dutch Drill down
        • English Language Teaching Unit Drill down
        • French Drill down
        • German Drill down
        • Italian Drill down
        • Modern Greek Drill down
        • Polish Drill down
        • Portuguese Drill down
        • Romanian Drill down
        • Spanish Drill down
    • Faculty of Law Drill down
      • Climate and Environmental Law Drill down
      • Commercial Corporate and Taxation Law Drill down
      • Computer Law Drill down
        • Computer Contracts Drill down
        • Copy Rights and Patents Drill down
        • Cyber Attack and Theft Drill down
        • Data Protection Drill down
      • Criminology Drill down
      • Employment Law Drill down
      • Intellectual Property Law Drill down
      • International Law Drill down
        • Asian and Pacific Law Drill down
        • European Law Drill down
        • Maritime Law Drill down
        • North American Law Drill down
      • Law and Ethics Drill down
    • Faculty of Medicine, BioScience and Psychology Drill down
      • Central Technical Services Drill down
      • Core Biotechnology Services Drill down
      • Dental School Drill down
        • Biomaterials Drill down
        • Craniofacial Development and Orthodontics Drill down
        • Dental Hygiene Drill down
        • Dental Practice and Policy Drill down
        • Dental School Administration Office Drill down
        • Restorative Dentistry Drill down
      • Medical School Drill down
        • Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine Drill down
        • Cardiovascular Sciences Drill down
        • Clinical Genetics Drill down
        • Clinical Neurophysiology Drill down
        • Clinical Oncology Drill down
        • Diabetes and Endocrinology Drill down
        • Haematology Drill down
        • Health Sciences Drill down
        • Infection Immunity Inflammation Drill down
        • Medical and Social Care Education Drill down
          • Medical Education Drill down
          • Social Care Education Drill down
        • Medical School Administration Office Drill down
        • Nephrology Drill down
        • Neurology Drill down
        • Respiratory Medicine Drill down
        • Rheumatology Drill down
      • Psychology Drill down
        • Centre for Applied Psychology Drill down
        • Clinical Psychology Unit Drill down
      • School of Biological Sciences Drill down
        • Biochemistry Drill down
        • Biology Drill down
        • Cell Physiology and Pharmacology Drill down
    • Faculty of Science and Engineering Drill down
      • Chemistry Drill down
      • Computer Science Drill down
      • Engineering Drill down
      • Geography Drill down
      • Geology Drill down
      • Mathematics Drill down
      • Physics and Astronomy Drill down
    • Faculty of Social Sciences Drill down
      • Economics Drill down
        • Economic History Drill down
        • Macroeconomics Drill down
        • Microeconomics Drill down
      • Education Drill down
      • Institute of Lifelong Learning Drill down
      • Media and Communication Drill down
      • Politics and International Relations Drill down
      • School of Management Drill down
      • Sociology Drill down
Dummy organisation structure. ©  2024

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