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.
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.
But it does not say anything about individual tasks or the order of execution.
Simplified WBS for a house, created using 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 Business Edition 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.
Views available in MindView
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.
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.
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
You 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.
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
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:
Gantt chart in MindView
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
Gantt exported from MindView to MS Project