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MindView - WBS Software

Create Your WBS With Ease Using MindView

These web pages explain how to create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) using MindView. We show what a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is and how it can help in the organization and execution of a project.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) made easy:

  1. Brainstorm WBS effectively
  2. Different layouts available, including Gantt chart
  3. Apply figures to the WBS
  4. Export to MS Project or MS Excel

Key Features for Creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS):

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What is a WBS?

First developed by the US Defense Department in the second half of the 1950s and by NASA in the early 1960s, a WBS is a document used by project managers to define the scope of a project. It describes the end goal, not the means of reaching that goal. For example, if the project is to build a house, the WBS defines all the aspects of the finished house, in increasing levels of detail. It does not specify how the elements of the house are to be constructed, except where the method of construction is an important part of the finished house.

A work breakdown structure is not a list of tasks, a schedule or an organization chart. Rather it provides the basis on which a task list and a schedule can be constructed. Tasks and schedules are better handled in other ways, for example by using Gantt charts.

A work breakdown structure can show you at a glance:

  • What the various elements of the project are
  • How the necessary work is distributed between the elements of the project
  • How the cost or budget is distributed between the elements of the project
  • How the larger elements of the project are subdivided into smaller ones

But it does not say anything about individual tasks or the order of execution.

A Work Breakdown Structure can show you at a glance
Simplified WBS for a house, created using MindView

Why MindView?

MindView is a highly effective way of brainstorming, developing and structuring ideas visually. Ideal for use by individuals, small teams or large groups, MindView generates ‘Mind Maps®’ which you can use in presentations, reports, web sites and more. Mind Maps can be small and simple, like the one above showing a WBS, or large and complex. With a comprehensive range of export options to Microsoft® Office applications including Microsoft® Project, HTML and other formats, MindView is an effective and versatile concept development tool.

MindView allows you to add calculation fields to track cost or budget and it includes project management capabilities that allow you to create task lists and Gantt charts from your WBS. MindView provides six interchangeable views (see below), enabling you to create a WBS Structure in a top down or left-to-right layout and then transfer information directly to the built-in Gantt chart.

MindView provides six interchangeable views
Views available in MindView

To summarize, MindView provides:

  • A quick and easy way to brainstorm ideas into a logical structure: ideal for creating a WBS.
  • Different ways of viewing the WBS.
  • The ability to add numbers (costs, percentages) to your WBS.
  • Gantt functionality so that you can easily create a task list and schedule from the completed WBS.
  • The ability to export to Microsoft® Project or Excel.

Creating a WBS

To create a Work Breakdown Structure you start from the end product in its entirety and work downwards to increasing levels of detail. MindView is ideal for this because it allows you to enter elements quickly and then arrange them into a structure that makes sense for your particular project. It’s an easy matter to rearrange things when you change your mind.

The steps in creating a typical WBS are:

    The root of the Work Breakdown Structure document

  1. Define the project’s end product. This is usually no more than a title: “House at Avenue Drive” for example.  It forms the root of the Work Breakdown Structure document.
  2. Define the main deliverables. These are the main components of the project’s end product, for example, for a house, External construction, Internal construction, and so on. These become sections or ‘main branches’ under the root, defined in the previous step.


  3. Break down the main deliverables into their sub-components using as many sub-branches as needed until you have manageable ‘units of work’ which do not need to be subdivided further. These units of work should be of a size that the project manager can easily handle. For example, something that a worker or a team of workers can accomplish in a week might represent a unit of work. Too much subdivision is counter productive as the project manager will then have to get too involved in the project details.

    Example WBS: a real WBS would have more detail than this
    Example WBS: a real WBS would have more detail than this

Finally you should have a structure with the root at one end and, furthest from the root, units of work. Taken together, the units of work make up the total work in the project, and there should be no overlap between them.

Division of work in the WBS: the 100% rule

Once the basic layout of the Work Breakdown Structure is complete, we add numbers to indicate the percentage of the total work that the various elements of the project represent. These percentage numbers are ideally added to the branches that are lowest in the hierarchy (furthest from the root), but if that proves too detailed they can be entered on intermediate branches. The important thing is that they should add up to 100% at the root, which represents the work for the whole project.

Example WBS with work percentages
Example WBS with work percentages

Points to note in the example above:

  • Percentage work figures have mostly been added to the branches of the WBS that are lowest in the hierarchy. But for the Electrical branch it has been decided not to subdivide the figure between sub-branches but to enter it directly on the intermediate branch ‘5.2 Electrical’.
  • MindView automatically totals the entered figures providing subtotals on intermediate branches (such as Services or Plumbing) and a grand total on the root.
  • The grand total on the root is 100%.

Entering costs to the WBS

Example a Work Breakdown Structure with work percentages and budget figuresYou can add cost figures in much the same way as the work percentages. In the following example we have added a Budget field in the MindView WBS document:

Example WBS with work percentages and budget figures

It would be a simple matter to add an ´Actual´ field to track the actual cost of the various items as work progresses.

Different layouts

It can be helpful to view your WBS document in different ways, and this can be done very easily using MindView. For example you can display the WBS top down (as in the images above), left-to-right (below), right-to-left, or as an indented outline.

A WBS displayed in MindView's left-to-right view
A WBS displayed in MindView´s left-to-right view

Implementing a WBS

The main purpose of a WBS is to keep track of the project’s scope, so you will need to add or remove elements as and when the scope of the project changes. Always make sure that the Work figure on the root branch is 100%. You can use the WBS to keep track of costs by adding figures for Budget and Actual as outlined above.

A WBS created with MindView also provides a good basis for preparing a task list and Gantt chart for use by project management. To do this:

  1. Using a copy of the WBS document you have created, modify the branches so that they represent a task list. Remember, the WBS is not a task list but defines the scope of the project so it will need some modification before it reflects a proper task list. This typically involves rearranging the existing branches, deleting some and adding new ones. As MindView is designed for easy brainstorming these operations are straightforward.
  2. Switch to MindView's project management mode and the Gantt view.
  3. Enter the start date for the project.
  4. Link the tasks where appropriate so that start dates are, where possible, determined automatically by the end dates of preceding tasks.
  5. Add start dates to unlinked tasks.
  6. Add a duration for each task.

Gantt chart in MindView
Gantt chart in MindView

Exporting to Microsoft Office applications

You can export your WBS to Microsoft Excel or Word, choosing from many professionally designed templates for the export. And if you have created a Gantt chart in MindView, you can export it to Microsoft Project (you will need to have Microsoft Project installed).

WBS exported from MindView to MS Excel
WBS exported from MindView to MS Excel

Gantt chart exported from MindView to MS Project
Gantt exported from MindView to MS Project

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