Creating a Work Breakdown Structure Diagram in Microsoft Project 2010

As far as I am concerned, one of the most fundamental report templates that are missing from Microsoft Project 2010 is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) template.

What many people don’t realise is that there are still a number of ways for you to generate pretty Work Breakdown Structures using third party or free Microsoft add-ins.

To create a Work Breakdown Structure in Project 2010, try the following links:

Please let me know if you come across any other useful WBS Templates for Microsoft Project by leaving a comment below.

Getting Started with the Microsoft Visio 2010 WBS Modeller:

  1. Install the appropriate add-in linked above
  2. Open Visio 2010 and open the “Add-Ins” folder under the Template Categories
  3. Select the “WBS Modeler” template, select your preferred Unit of Measure and then click the Create button
  4. A new blank Visio drawing will open and you should see a new Tab on the Ribbon Menu, WBS Modeler
  5. The next step is to import data from Microsoft Project. To do this, open the project file in Microsoft Project, select the WBS Modeler Ribbon Tab and click Import
  6. Select the level from which you want to begin the data import and then press the Draw button to draw the Work Breakdown Structure
  7. That’s it! You now have a pretty Work Breakdown Structure as a Visio Diagram

Rules for developing Network Diagrams

Some basic rules for developing network diagrams are:

  • Network Diagrams flow from left to right
  • An Activity cannot begin until all preceding connected activities have been completed
  • Arrows on Network Diagrams depict the precedence and flow of Activities. Arrows can cross over each other without any impact.
  • Each Activity should have a unique identification number
  • It is acceptable to leave gaps between Activity Identifiers such as: 1, 5, 10, 15. This makes it easier to add missing Activities at a later date without having to renumber the entire Network Diagram.
  • Activity Identifiers should be ascending numbers that are as simple as possible
  • Looping is not allowed
  • Conditional statements are not allowed – the network diagram is NOT a decision tree
  • Activities can only occur once on a Network Diagram. If they are to occur a second time, they should have a different name and new identifier.
  • Experience suggests that when there are multiple starts, a common start node can be used to indicate a clear project beginning on the network. Similarly, a single project end node can be used to indicate a clear ending

There are two main approaches for developing Network Diagrams:

  • AONActivity-On-Node – uses a node to depict an Activity
  • AOAActivity-On-Arrow – uses an arrow to depict an Activity
  • AON dominates most projects

Network Diagram Activities

A Network Diagram Activity is:

A Network Diagram is made up of a number of Activities, and each of the Activities consists of one or more Work Packages.

An Activity is an element in the project that consumes time, such as work or waiting.

Types of Activities:

  • Merge Activity – an Activity that has more than one activity immediately preceding it
  • Parallel Activities – two Activities that can take place at the same time
  • Path – A sequence of connected, dependent Activities
  • Critical Path – the path in the Network Diagram with the longest duration through the network. If any Activity on the critical path is delayed, the project will be delayed by the same amount of time.
  • Critical Activity – an Activity on the Critical Path
  • Non Critical Activity – an Activity not on the Critical Path
  • Event – an Event represents a point in time when an Activity is started or completed – it does not consume time
  • Burst Activity – an Activity that has more than one Activity immediately following it
  • Hammock Activity – creating of a Macro Network by grouping or rolling-up Activities to get the right level of detail


  • Activities may or may not require resources
  • Activities may represent one or more tasks from the work package
  • Activities descriptions of activities should use a verb/noun format such as: Develop Product Specifications
  • Refer to the Task Dependencies in Microsoft Project 2010 post for more information on Activity Relationships

Developing a Network Schedule or Network Diagram

A Network Diagram is:

A Network Diagram is a visual flow diagram representing the sequence, interrelationships and dependencies of all activities that are required to be completed to complete of the project.

Work Packages from the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) are used to build the activities found in the Network Diagram. An Activity can include one or more Work Packages and are placed in a sequence that allows orderly completion of the project.

The nodes on the Network Diagram represent the Activities, and the arrows depict the dependencies and the project flow.


  • A Network Diagram is constructed from a number of Activities, each of which are made up of one or more Work Packages
  • Work Packages are the primary input for developing a Network Diagram
  • All Activities that must be completed in order to complete the project
  • Work packagesare:
    • Defined independently of other work packages
    • Have a defined scope
    • Have definite start and finish points
    • May require specific resources
    • Include technical specifications
    • Include cost estimates
    • Are owned by an organisational unit
    • Belong to a single Cost Account. One cost account can have more than one Work Package associated with it
    • Do not include dependencies, sequencing, and timing
  • Well-developed Network Diagram should be easy to adjust when unexpected events occur while the project is under way
  • A Network Diagram provides the basis for scheduling labour and equipment
  • Network Diagrams enhance communication that melds all managers and groups together in meeting the time, cost and performance objectives of the project
  • Network Diagrams provides an estimate of the project duration
  • Network Diagrams identify the critical activities – those that should not be delayed