To create a WBS, it can be interesting to use a Mind mapping software. Mind maps are diagrams used to represent information in a graphical structure called map. Softwares permit to create these diagrams. Several products exist in this category, like (see here for the full list):
- XMind : Based on the Eclipse platform. This is the tool that has been used to produce diagrams of this post.
- FreeMind: One of the first free mind mapping software (written in Java).
Since the WBS is a hierarchical structure, Mind mapping tools permits to represent and to design it efficiently. In consequence, it will be easy to:
- Expand / Collapse level to show hide WBS detail
- Reorder elements of the WBS (if an activity does not belong to a category, it is easy to move it with a Mind mapping software)
- Add new elements, elements are easily inserted, numbering of existing elements is automatically computed
- Add additional informations (notes, flags, etc.), Mind mapping softwares permit to add graphical elements in order to bring visual information.
- Offer a global view of the project
- Export the structure to a spreadsheet application for further use like estimating the WBS
- And many other things, …
The following screen shots show what can be done in XMind with the example of the WBS presented in a previous post. All the views presented below have been created with the same structure, only the visual representation has been switched.
The standard map clockwise view (note: numbering function has been used in order to identify each activity of the WBS), this view is (most of the time) the default view of Mind mapping softwares:
The tree view, this is the standard view to represent a WBS:
The spreadsheet view:
And, my favorite (it is the most funny) the fishbone view: