What is a Work Breakdown Structure in Project Management?

It can be used in conjunction with other project management tools, such as a Gantt chart, to create a more robust picture of your project. Use the Work Breakdown Structure Template to quickly decompose the project’s total scope, including specific deliverables and activities. This helps with estimating resources and costs, creating a phased schedule of tasks, and managing each phase. A work package is https://globalcloudteam.com/ the “lowest level of the WBS,” according to the project management institute’s definition in its project management body of knowledge book . This is so that a team member or department can be given a work package, a collection of related activities that is manageable in size. These work packages are a vital component of the WBS because, as a project manager, you can predict their costs and duration.

what is work breakdown structure

Eliminate standalone project management applications and the overhead needed to manage them. Define and structure project activities based on the organization units that will work on the project. Since a work breakdown structure is in the form of a visual hierarchy, there are a number of ways to create yours. The best part is that you get to pick which method is right for you and your team.

All Plans

And then, those chunks being subdivided into even smaller, bite-sized units. Before we dive too much deeper into work breakdown structures, we should first go over the definitions of some key components that make up a WBS. When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.Try Smartsheet for free, today. Continue adding and indenting list items until you reach the work package level. In Microsoft Project, add the name of the main deliverable in the Task Name field. Make sure to capture documentation and review cycles, and the time they take, as well as training at the beginning of the project and testing at the end.

  • Modern Project & Portfolio Management Connect projects with organization strategy.
  • If it sounds complicated, don’t worry; what it means is that you’ll examine the overall project scope and divide your work into deliverables that support it.
  • Because of that, a work breakdown structure is thought not to be flexible enough to match the Agile iterative nature.
  • One must decide when to stop dividing work into smaller elements.
  • The WBS is also an integral part of the preparation of the Cost Analysis Requirements Description .

They are often deemed too small and/or redundant to include. Tasks are a list of items that need to be performed to complete the activities mentioned above. The elements of the second level of a Work Breakdown Structure are most often known as phases or deliverables. They will be different depending on the industry and project type. The WBS Dictionary is a necessary companion to the Work Breakdown Structure. After you have defined all the work packages, it’s time to assign responsibilities.

Make your work breakdown structure work for you

This makes it easier for teams to identify scope, cost and deliverables and delegate tasks to the team members who are best suited for the job. A scope of work is a comprehensive document that explains your project scope, which is all the work to be performed. A WBS is the perfect tool to break down the scope of a project into work packages that are easier to control.

what is work breakdown structure

Identifying the main deliverables of a project is the starting point for deriving a work breakdown structure. The project deliverable is then divided into phases on the second level. The first level of the WBS is always occupied by the final project deliverable, in this case, the wedding.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) In Project Management

A deliverable-orientated breakdown of a project into smaller components. Cassie is a deputy editor, collaborating with teams around the world while living in the beautiful hills of Kentucky. She is passionate about economic development and is on the board of two non-profit organizations seeking to revitalize her former railroad town. Prior to joining the team at Forbes Advisor, Cassie was a Content Operations Manager and Copywriting Manager at Fit Small Business.

what is work breakdown structure

To conquer people, but their projects and the chaos that comes with it. A divide and conquer paradigm is used in a project management work breakdown structure . Therefore, one should take creating WBS as a critical step in the process of project management. The WBS provides the foundation for all project management work, including, planning, cost and effort estimation, resource allocation, and scheduling.

– Create task groups

Know right away what needs to be done and execute tasks more efficiently. The tasks that get you there and the deliverables are both crucial to specify, but most tasks need to be further broken down to be finished. They are a component of a trickier task, so you need that functionality in your WBS program. Finally, each element in the WBS must be assigned to a specific individual or team. This ensures that everyone knows who is responsible for what and that no task falls through the cracks.

what is work breakdown structure

For example, construction projects often require deliverables, such as submittals, proposals, and reports. If you plan on creating a deliverable-based WBS, you will want this list to be fully defined. However, it’s often useful for process-based work breakdown structures to have the deliverables identified beforehand. The lowest element in a tree structure, a terminal element, is one that is not further subdivided.

Provides clarity for project teams

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. Dr. Bennett echoes this notion that practice is the key to mastering work breakdown structures. Because the WBS is an organic document, revisit its contents frequently and adjust accordingly to assure proper project performance and delivery. Take advantage of tools that support mind mapping and brainstorming. Drawing a work breakdown structure can be straightforward. But the following tips are design principles to help you achieve the best results.

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Always try to define what’s required in the previous level in as much detail as possible before moving to the next levels. For successors on a project, the WBS helps them see both what worked and what did not in the project’s earlier days and to track dependencies and their outcomes. In short, anyone in an oversight role who needs to plan for the division of labor on a project can benefit from using a work breakdown structure. As the project progresses, teams can track specific sections of the work breakdown structure to determine project cost performance and flag issues and problem areas in the organization.

The Easy Guide to Work Breakdown Structures | With Editable Templates

It displays and defines the product, or products, to be developed and/or produced. It relates the elements of work to be accomplished to each other and to the end product. In other words, the WBS is an organized method to break work breakdown structure down a product into subproducts at lower levels of detail. It’s used for planning, cost estimating, execution and control. A Work Breakdown Structure helps you to break down projects of any size into manageable tasks.

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