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Create Your WBS With Ease Using MindView

This web page explains how to create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) using MindView's WBS software. We show what a Work Breakdown Structure is and how it can help in the organization and execution of a project.

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"...MindView 6 Business Edition is among the best brainstorming and project management software you'll find. It breathes visual life into business ideas and data."

Jill Duffey

Best Mind Mapping Software

Work Breakdown Structure Made Easy:

Key Features

  • Brainstorm WBS effectively
  • Different layouts available, including Gantt chart
  • Apply figures to the WBS
  • Export to MS Project or MS Excel

How to Create A WBS in MindView

1 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.

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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.

wbs software

2 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.

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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.
work breakdown structure software

3 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.

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The Steps in Creating a Typical WBS are:

wbs software construction of a house

4 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.

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work breakdown structure software construction of a house

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%.
wbs example construction of a house

5 Entering Costs into the WBS

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:

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

wbs software
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, left-to-right, right-to-left, or as an indented outline.

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Different layouts of a work breakdown structure

6 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 software for use by project management. To do this:

  • 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.
  • Switch to MindView's project management mode and the Gantt view.
  • Enter the start date for the project.
  • Link the tasks where appropriate so that start dates are, where possible, determined automatically by the end dates of preceding tasks.
  • Add start dates to unlinked tasks.
  • Add a duration for each task.

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).

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exporting wbs project to microsoft office

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