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)