WBS tools


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:

WBS map view

The tree view, this is the standard view to represent a WBS:

WBS Tree structure

The spreadsheet view:

WBS spreadsheet view

And, my favorite (it is the most funny) the fishbone view:

WBS fishbone