Project Delivery Tool Ideas: WBS Review level

Project Delivery Tool Ideas: WBS Review level

Scheduling tools usually provide users with an opportunity to extend/collapse schedules to a certain WBS level. However, schedules usually have activities at different levels, and when a scheduler needs to update the schedule it is not possible to extend the schedule to the “WORKING” level.

In this example, activities are on levels 2, 3, 4 and 5, and to update them schedulers need to do many clicks. 

It will be convenient to have an opportunity to extend the schedule to the “working level”. Collapse  all WBSs with all completed activities and extend WBSs with ‘Not Started’ and ‘In Progress’ activities:

Another good option could be to extend only WBSs with “In Progress” activities but consider an activity be in progress based on planned (Start and Finish) dates, not % Complete:

If  (Start <= Status Date) and (Status <> “Completed”)  then  RealActivityStatus = “In progress”.

In some scheduling tools, it is possible to develop a filter and completely hide completed activities and WBSs. It is not convenient as:
– Users need to see ‘In Progress’ activities in the overall context;
– Be able to expand any WBS to review logic between activities;

Such WBS views save a lot of time for schedulers.

Alex Lyaschenko

PMO | Portfolio Planning & Delivery | PMP | P3O Practitioner | AgilePM Practitioner | Six Sigma

How to visualise WBS out of MS Project?

How to visualise WBS out of MS Project?

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a very powerful view to represent project scope in a hierarchical way.

  • It allows to validate scope and identify potential gaps.
  • WBS is a key input into the schedule development process.

Ideally, use a scheduling tool that supports multiple WBS, as it allows to review project scope from different dimensions. However, if you only have MS Project and Visio available, it might be still sufficient enough to develop a “fit for purpose” version of WBS.

As MS Project supports a hierarchical structure and Visio is a good tool for data visualisation, applying these two could be a strong combo.

There are different methods for this kind of integration. One of those is to utilise Visual Reports feature in MS Project. Just apply this 3-stage approach.

Stage 1: Develop a hierarchical structure in MS Project

1.1 Workshop with stakeholders and teams to decompose project scope into manageable, clearly and comprehensively defined components.

1.2 Capture workshop outputs in MS Project hieracihacl view.

Stage 2: Export data in Visio via MS Project Visual Reports

2.1 Go to MS Project Report Tab > Visual Reports

2.2 Turn off Microsoft Excel samples (as we are only interested in Visio Reports)

2.3 Select Task Status Report > click View

Stage 3: Customise Visio WBS Graph

3.1 Rename Report

3.2 Remove Default Legend

3.3 Select Top Box Shape and go Tasks: Tasks to bring the desired level of WBS

3.4 Go to Design Tab > Re-layout Page to Hierarchy

3.5 Untick Cost and Work in Pivot Diagram properties settings (Pivot Diagram Tab)

3.6 Right-click on Top Box Shape > Data > Edit Data Graphic

3.7 In Edit Data Graphic set up the Fields you like to be visible and their formats

If you like you can save this version as a WBS Visio Template for future use (instead of the MS Project default Task Status Report sample mentioned above).

Just remember, when selecting a template in MS Project, tick on the box “include report templates from:” the location where your customised WBS Visio Template was saved!

Some alternative methods to create WBS:

* Spider Project supports multiple WBS views for the same project.

* Primavera has a single WBS Chart view.

* WBS Schedule Pro can be used as a standalone tool to develop WBS or can be integrated as an add-on to MS Project to visualise WBS.

Julia Lyaschenko

PMO | Program Planning & Delivery Specialist | PRINCE2© Practitioner | SAFe© Agilist (SA)