Sometimes I find myself struggling to see a hierarchical WBS representation of my project plan when I am using my favorite project planning tool. Luckily, there is a way to get that “traditional WBS” view of things and still interact with your main project planning tool. WBS ChartPro is the tool that I use often in conjunction with Microsoft Project since project cannot show me the graphical view of my WBS I find myself looking for from time to time. ChartPro is a product of a company named Critical Tools, Inc.
This tool can be found at http://www.criticaltools.com/download.htm and you can use it as a 30-day trial to see if you like it as well as I do.
Basically, I take my manual WBS (usually from post-it notes on the wall or drawings in my notebook) and draw it in traditional style using ChartPro. I then export the ChartPro diagram into Microsoft Project, where my task list is populated with the WBS contents in the proper places. Each level of indent in project corresponds to a lower level of detail In ChartPro, and all relationships between the pieces of project scope being broken down are maintained.
Here is a project example with its high-level WBS built using ChartPro:
And here is the imported Task list in Microsoft Project with a few additional tasks I added in after importing the original data.
Voila! This is a great tool to have in your project manager’s toolkit. Do you have any other tools you use in a similar fashion?
If you are looking to refine or validate your project planning skills and use of project management tools, take a look at Learning Tree’s 3-day course on using Microsoft Project. This course is certainly a great place to begin or revisit how well you are using this powerful tool and to learn some new skills and techniques for planning, monitoring and controlling your projects even better still.