One that the many under-used Project management tools of every is the Work break down Structure, or WBS. For part reason, it seems to intimidate brand-new Project Managers. However it is nothing an ext than a listing of every little thing you should do in a structured way. And also there is one an extremely friendly and also familiar device that many people use, which have the right to do this for you. In this article, you’ll learn just how to create a WBS with a psychic Map.

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Create a WBS with a psychic Map

The value of a Work break down Structure

Everyone seems to know about Gantt Charts, even if lock don’t recognize the name. Castle have come to be the’ task planning tool. Indeed, castle are nearly a symbol for project Management. This means that new Project Managers often rush to develop a Gantt Chart. However without first giving sufficient thought to what work you should do, your Gantt Chart risks two large problems:

Gaps with work missed outPoor reasonable in the groping and also logical flow in between tasks

The tool of an option for knowledge what you should do to complete your task is the Work malfunction Structure. It literally does what its surname suggests: it division your job-related down right into a structure.

The reason to use a WBS before you create your Gantt graph is focus. It permits you to focus on one point at a time: the tasks to it is in done. The Gantt Chart process puts together tasks, sequence and duration. When you have every one of your tasks developed in your WBS, you can cluster them right into logical groups. Structure a WBS v a psychic Map makes this component especially easy. Kind there, you have the right to estimate just how long each task will take, and also the sources it will certainly need. And also finally, you deserve to put them right into a reasonable sequence.

Going right to a Gantt graph is like starting to chef a 4 course meal without one ingredient list or a recipe.

A Gantt chart without a WBS is like food preparation a 4 course enjoy the meal without ingredient list or recipe. Click to Tweet

In an earlier article, just how to Get better Project monitoring Results, I detailed ten an useful tools. If ns were to choose an eleventh, it would be the Work breakdown Structure.

How to create a WBS

A common approach to producing a simple WBS is this:

Brainstorm every task and also write that onto a difficult notePlace the difficult notes onto a boardStart to cluster the notes so related tasks sit togetherRearrange the small clusters, so related clusters space nearbyCreate headings because that each clusterContinue till your project has actually from 3 to 9 huge clusters (ideally no much more than 7)

This is a ‘bottom-up’ method to creating a WBS. Because that small, an easy projects, that is perfectly adequate. The is especially an excellent as a team exercise, to connect your task Team beforehand on. It’s shortcoming is the it lacks rigour – one forgotten (or lost) sticky keep in mind leaves a space in your project.


Mind Map

Tony Buzan emphasize the value of utilizing colour, shape, images, and a range of line-types and fonts. His objective is mostly to usage Mind Maps because that creativity and also memory. Because that you, particularly if you desire to produce a WBS through a mental Map, the words room what will issue most.

Mind Mapping Software

It’ll come as no surprise to you to hear that there is a growing market in mental Mapping software. There are many vendors, each acquisition a various approach. However I will leave comment until after I’ve questioned how to develop a WBS with a mind map, since that is going come be crucial way to i distinguish competitors, for you together a project manager.

The power of producing a WBS with a psychic Map

A Work failure Structure is a logical and also rigorous device for articulating your task scope. It places tasks in a reasonable hierarchy and assigns distinct numbers come them. That is a an excellent tool because that rational, organized thinkers.

A mind Map uses a spatial metaphor to stand for the relationships between ideas: in our case, activities. It urges you to usage colour and symbols as well as text and also lines. It as such appeals nicely to intuitive and also divergent thinkers, who find a much more systematic strategy off-putting.

But the nice thing is that a psychic Map have the right to represent precisely the same info as a WBS, preserving all the same relationship information. This way you deserve to create any kind of WBS v a psychic Map. And also you can do so using any kind of technology: pen and file or software application app. You have the right to work on her own, or v your team.

The services of gift Messy

But, for me, over there is one huge benefit to producing my WBS with a psychic Map: it’s messy. What I favor is that Mind Maps don’t have actually rules or directly lines, or addressed sequences. It’s straightforward to on slide in an extra element,or move a link, without emotion that you are ‘spoiling’ some of the orderly structure. This is important, since humans are seduced by beauty. A neat, tidy, reasonable WBS is compelling to us… even beautiful. This create a psychological barrier with recognize faults, and also adding brand-new items. We stand up to making changes since we fall for the plan fallacy of see a practiced WBS and believing the is therefore, in which method ‘right’.

I recognize you understand this is rubbish. However your psychic is not as logical as you’d prefer to believe. So execute yourself a favour and keep her planning papers messy for as lengthy as possible. This way, you keep your willingness to tinker, cut, readjust and add to them, without worrying that you room spoiling your lovely work. And also when you produce your WBS through a mental map, this is precisely what friend do. Especially if you do no effort to ‘tidy up’ your Mind Map.

You Don’t need to Tidy up your Mind Map

You don’t must tidy up your Mind Map because it is not – and never will be – a file to present to anyone. It is a working tool. The is a phase on the means to producing your WBS and also nothing more. Consequently, as soon as you develop your WBS through a psychic Map, the is your WBS the counts.

The software Tools to develop a WBS through a mind Map

So you’ve gained the principle of just how you can create a WBS through a mental map, but how easy carry out software tools make it? Well, placed simply, there are three types of software tool come consider:

Software the will develop WBS, either as a stand-alone function, or as component of a suite of task Management and also Project to plan capabilities.The commonest example is Microsoft Project, which is a an effective project planning and monitoring tool, which has WBS planning together an integral part of the tool.Mind Mapping devices that execute nothing else, and also simply create a mind MapAn instance is an easy Mind, however there are very many of these tools.Mind Mapping tools that export your data right into WBS format

It is the critical of these that you deserve to most conveniently use to develop a WBS v a psychic map. What they enable you to execute is develop a graphical psychic map, and then fiddle the data from your mind map right into a format that permits you to easily produce a WBS. Usually, this is together a CSV (Comma separated variable) file, that have the right to be check out by a spreadsheet program like Excel, numbers or Sheets. Ideally, that will create standard WBS style numbering when it go so.

Here are four of the key players


Available because that Windows and also Mac

Flexibility: High

30-day free Trial

Priced per licence at ‘enterprise pricing levels’

Mind Vector

Available because that Mac, iOS, Android, and also Browser

Flexibility: Medium

Free tier (limited usage – full functions)

Priced in ~ ‘small user pricing levels’ v enterprise option


Available because that Windows, Mac and also Cloud

Flexibility: an extremely High

30-day free Trial

Priced every licence in ~ ‘enterprise pricing levels’


Available because that Windows, Linux, and also Mac

Flexibility: really High

Free tier (limited functions)

Priced in ~ ‘small user pricing levels’

In Conclusion

This is no a full evaluation. But, in conclusion, if you want to build your WBS with a mental Map, there space plenty of good tools around. In the past, I have used pen and also paer and converted mine Mind Map to a WBS by hand. Mental Vector kindly sent out me an evaluation licence to their product and I have enjoyed using it. It has absolutely made the much quicker to put together my very own WBS with a mental Map.

Over to You…

Do you create your WBS v a mind Map?

If so, what tips do you have and also what tools execute you use? have actually you used any kind of of the tools I have provided and, if so, what is your experience?

Let us understand in the comment below.

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About the AuthorMike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is among the most successful and in-demand project administration trainers in the UK. The is writer of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is additionally a prolific blogger and contributor come and also Project, the journal of the association for job Management. In between 1990 and also 2002, Mike was a successful job manager, leading large project teams and delivering complicated projects. In 2016, Mike introduced