Work Breakdown Structure WBS In Project Management

Deciding which tasks are assigned to different clusters depends on the project, and needs to be done on a case-by-case basis. The high level of visibility makes it easy to keep your team members and stakeholders up to date with everything. Moreover, it’s also a great way to identify possible bottlenecks sooner and make sure your project doesn’t go over time and budget. Having all the tasks, timelines, and budgets visualized in the WBS make it easier for everyone to understand their responsibilities and see the project progress. Work breakdown structure is a good way to get any project off the ground and can often determine the success of a project. That’s why project managers need to learn how to master them.

Indeed, for a project manager, the first big challenge is to get an overview of the overall task. When exactly do we have to do what needs to be done to meet the deadlines? The answer to these questions is supported by the “Work Breakdown Structure” project management method. It is a simple and methodical way to organize and understand the scope of the project. The approach allows companies to look at a project from the top down and break it down into smaller tasks and subtasks that will help complete the project. A Work Breakdown Structure is a visual representation of a hierarchical subdivision of all the deliverables or tasks needed to complete the final product of the project.

Now, let’s look at how to create a work breakdown structure in project management. Identify the phases in your project to create more than a mere task list. Set them apart with our milestone feature on the Gantt chart tool. They can also be color coded to better differentiate the phases.

definition of work breakdown structure

Plaky can help you organize your teams and tasks, as well as store all your important lists, documents, and correspondence in one place. With this, all the information necessary for creating an immaculate Work Breakdown Structure will be at your fingertips. Hierarchically arrange elements — Once you have subdivided each deliverable into its simplest components, arrange them into levels going from the largest all the way to the smallest deliverables. Having a breakdown of all the deliverables or activities “on paper” will help identify dependencies among certain work packages that might influence the project later on. The Work Breakdown Structure is an indispensable part of the Waterfall methodology, but isn’t best suited for Agile projects.

– Document the created work breakdown structure and assigning unique numbers for the work packages

Delineate the deliverables that the customer or an external party must meet or deliver. Check the project approach outlined in the project charter for any activities that need to be included in the WBS. The first step to creating a work breakdown structure is to bring the team together.

definition of work breakdown structure

Accordingly, the WBS must be read along with the WBS dictionary. Of course, the three-tiered structure of Work Breakdown Structure in project management is followed as a rule of thumb and can be expanded or elaborated upon depending on the project. Helps manage dependencies and prevents them from affecting the project delivery timeline or budgets. The contract WBS is the Government – approved WBS for program reporting purposes and includes all program elements , which are the contractor’s responsibility. It includes the contractor’s discretionary extension to lower levels, in accordance with Government direction and the contract Statement of Work .

One such example is a WBS draft for a mobile application development project. Here, application development phases such as configuration, system testing, critical systems review, and user systems form the top-level hierarchy. Alternative to Monday and Asana for managing projects, teams, and all types of work. The project deliverable is then divided into phases on the second level. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll be turning a wedding plan into a phase-oriented project — but the principle is the same for any type of project.

We can see several project deliverables in our WBS example, including the project budget or interior design. Here, you construct work packages containing tasks using project phases. Therefore, a phase-based WBS should be used for lengthier projects with ambiguous goals. For instance, you intend to increase retention by 20% over the following three years.

If any modification is required at the upper level, make changes. Our next goal is to improve the performance and usability of key functionalities, such as scheduling and planning within modules. We want to make BigPicture even more transparent and user-friendly by enhancing sorting, filtering, grouping, and searching functionalities. Key operations will be enhanced and adjusted to the requirements of integrations with 3rd party tools, and inline task editing will be available directly on the app screens. So in this sense, a work breakdown structure is the equivalent of the product backlog.

For projects, the Work Breakdown Structure is the tool that utilizes this technique and is one of the most important project management documents. It singlehandedly integrates scope, cost and schedule baselines ensuring that project plans are in alignment. In a WBS, the deliverable can be an object, a service, or an activity.

Work Breakdown Structure Displays

A WBS helps to identify the resources (e.g., people, materials, equipment) needed to complete each task. This helps to ensure that the necessary resources are available when they are needed. A work breakdown structure breaks down a project’s work into hierarchical levels, or layers. The WBS can have as many levels as needed, but most structures have at least 3 levels. It’s your first dive into the world of project management and everyone around you seems to be speaking a different language. Define and structure project activities based on the deliverables agreed to deliver.

definition of work breakdown structure

Klaxoon team shares hundreds templates, inspired by industry-standard agile methods, and the best ideas from the Klaxoon community. Whether in the form of an Excel list, a beautifully prepared graphic or a simple sticky note on a whiteboard, everyone can decide for themselves which method of presentation is the most appropriate. The need for maintenance, which is necessary in any project, should not be ignored. Creating a WBS is an intensive process that typically takes place over a long period of time and requires collaboration and input from a wide variety of people. This article describes how you can use WBS enhancements to meet your needs for estimating and tracking. This is why it’s important to make this visual representation of scope as accurate as possible.

What are the 4 WBS levels?

This can track both the project’s phases of work and the specific deliverables needed. The Work Breakdown Structure is developed to establish a common understanding of project scope. It is a hierarchical description of the work that must be done to complete the deliverables of a project. Each descending level in the WBS represents an increasingly detailed description of the project deliverables. Because our software is cloud-based, all your data is collected and displayed in real time.

Measurable—can be used to measure progress; has start and completion dates and measurable interim milestones. Independent—minimum interface with or dependence on other ongoing elements (i.e., assignable to a single control account, and clearly distinguishable from other work packages). Another great way to make sure your WBS isn’t too detailed is the 8/80 rule. It entails that a work package or deliverable should take no less than eight hours of effort, but no more than 80.

Initially, it serves as a planning tool to help the project team plan, define and organize scope with deliverables. The WBS is also used as the primary source of schedule and cost estimate activities. But, its biggest contributions to a project are is use as a description all of the work and as a monitoring and controlling tool. Wrike is a cloud-based project management software with a focus on real-time collaboration. It offers features such as task lists, Gantt charts, file sharing, and more.

This is the oft-quoted “100% rule” – that the sum of the work at each “child” level must be 100% of the work at the “parent” level. This, among others, is one of several reasons why you need a thorough understanding of the work breakdown structure before you can create your own. While it is the simplest form of Work Breakdown Structure, fleshing out the details of the task, such as the budget, assignment, duration, etc., is difficult in this format. Defines specific and measurable outcomes and links them directly to teams and individuals by assigning responsibility. The duration or budget of each task can be accounted for to get a near-accurate estimate for the entire project. Start and Finish Date of Task – estimates the time each task will take and ultimately the entire project.

These are the most granular tasks and, again, should be given a descriptive name. For each, you’ll include the task name, expected time allocated, as well as start and delivery dates for the task. Additional details can be added in, such as task assignee or relevant notes; however, these will not be required to generate the core WBS.

definition of work breakdown structure

The deliverable-based WBS is more commonly used in project management. On the other hand, phase-based WBS is typically used in projects that do not have clearly defined outcomes. A program WBS is established to provide the framework for program and technical planning, cost estimating, resource allocation, performance measurement, and status reporting. The WBS defines the total hardware, software, services, data, and facilities system and relates these elements to each other and to the end product.

Best Practices and Design Principles for Work Breakdown Structures

Timelines are different from Kanban boards and calendars due to the visual layout and adjustable functionality. It’s really up to your preference to determine which visual is right for your team. While not always needed, projects that require large budgets should be tracked carefully. It’s helpful to assign specific task budget caps in order to easily track how close you are to your allocated budget. The task descriptions include both a task name and a brief description of the objectives.

  • It will help you keep your team on track, communicate with stakeholders, and ensure timely project delivery.
  • The third option for creating a WBS of your own is by using team calendar software.
  • The WBS may be displayed horizontally in outline form or vertically as a tree structure .
  • Different projects may require different types of work breakdowns.
  • There are several heuristics or “rules of thumb” used when determining the appropriate duration of an activity or group of activities necessary to produce a specific deliverable defined by the WBS.
  • 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.

Since a work breakdown structure is displayed visually, it can be created using a combination of workflow management software and project management frameworks. Some of these methods include timelines, Kanban boards, and calendars. One must decide when to stop dividing work into smaller elements. For most projects, a hierarchy of two to four levels will suffice. This will assist in determining the duration of activities necessary to produce a deliverable defined by the WBS. There are several heuristics or “rules of thumb” used when determining the appropriate duration of an activity or group of activities necessary to produce a specific deliverable defined by the WBS.

Each WBS level represents a new and increasingly detailed definition of work needed to complete the project. We also have a library of free project management templates, including a free WBS template, to get you started off right. Project reports pull data from the project to illuminate its progress, overall health, costs and more. Our reports summarize your project data and allow you to filter the results to show just want you want. Add the date when the task needs to start in the planned start date column and when it should be completed in the planned finished date. There’s also an estimated completion column for the amount of time you plan for the task to take.

Key Takeaways About the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Besides presenting project risks in a Risk Breakdown Structure, it is possible to combine the use of Color Legend in representing the impact of risk. Generally speaking, there are three typical ways in structuring works with a Work Breakdown Structure . They includes phase-based structures, deliverable-based structures and responsibility-based structures. Make sure all deliverables have been fully covered by the works defined in the Work Breakdown Structure.

What is Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Project Management

Feel free to create control accounts, which constitute task categories for the different areas of work that you would like to monitor. Control Accounts are WBS Elements at which the project plans to monitor and report performance. To assist with the monitoring and reporting, project management information tools are used to collect, analyze and report information at any Element within the WBS.

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