What is a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Project Management?

Have you ever in a group project divide the whole work into small tasks? And then, allotted the work to a specific subject expertise people? Then, given deadlines to complete the work and finally compile your overall project. If yes, then this article will bring back all those projects you have done. You might also know what Work Breakdown Structure is and its importance in project management.

If not, then in this article, I am going to explain to you what this topic is all about and how it has frequently become an important aspect of project management.

What is a Work Breakdown Structure?

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a project management technique that breaks down a project into smaller components. It focuses on deliverables or measurable milestones rather than individual actions. These deliverables are mostly tasks, subtasks, or work packages that the project team works on. 

Work Breakdown structure is not a plan or a schedule, it doesn’t tell you how and when tasks will be completed. As per the Project Management Institute of Knowledge, “It is a hierarchical decomposition of the scope of work which is carried out by the team to accomplish project objectives and create deliverables.” WBS helps in eliminating non-essential work to get the planned result. It is technically a diagram or visual chart which tells all the processes, timeline while also providing tasks, subtasks, and deliverables that will be carried out throughout.

WBS in project management should be your first deliverable once the project scope is obtained. It becomes possible to scope out other resources once WBS is defined; teams can also then create the schedule, provide assignments and draw up a tasks list. For unique projects where the team doesn’t have experience, work breakdown structure comes as a savior to help the team define exact tasks and deliverables needed for the final product. 

How to create a Work Breakdown Structure?

Before we get into how to create a Work Breakdown Structure, the first step always should be to gather all your team members. Without subject matter experts (SME), it becomes difficult to create a work breakdown structure and you need people who know what’s going on in the project. 

Once that is done, you then need key documents to assemble like project scope problem statement, agreements, applicable contracts, and existing project scope management plan. You also then need certain tools for information record, it can be as simple as sticky notes with a whiteboard to note down deliverables and other things. 

The following elements should be there in the work breakdown structure to make it effective:

  • Project vision statement
  • A list of tasks with deliverables 
  • Defined phases that depend on project size

Now you can start creating a work breakdown structure for your project.

Step1: To determine “Project Title” and also describe the project statement. 

A project statement means you have to determine and describe the scope, objectives, and participants in the project.

Step2: Highlight all the necessary phases of the project. 

For example, if you have a project of the interior design of a house then you will divide your projects into different phases like planning and programming, concept development, design development, construction documentation, and construction administration. Make the step more detailed so that it becomes easier to create further steps and have a clear idea.

Step3: Create and set up all the deliverables.

Now under the phases, you have to create all the main deliverables so that it becomes easier to narrow down the work. 

(In this step and project title step, apply the 100% Rule, which means that the work defined in the project scope and management plan should be 100% included in WBS. Also, you must capture 100% of deliverables for the project.)

Step4: Launch into decomposition

Decomposition means an act of breaking deliverables into manageable tasks that can be realistically achieved and be completed in a given time frame. Hence, this level of breakdown is called a “work package.” Work package means breaking down the work into its lowest level of WBS and then assigning it to a specific team.

(To know how much you can make work specific and small to be considered a work package then it is recommended to use the 8/80 rule. That means the work package to be complete should be more than 8hours but less than 80 hours.)

Step5: Assign each task/section to each owner

Finally, it’s time to assign each work package or section of the project to each team under that project. Further, ensure that the owner or team delivers the work promptly.

After the WBS is created, you can now look into any gaps or overlapping work of each deliverable. This will then help in eliminating the double work and change work requests.

Also Read: Best Leadership Theories That You Must Know in 2021

Why use a work breakdown structure?

After knowing about how to create a work breakdown structure, let’s look into why it is important to use WBS in project management or what is its purpose? Here are some benefits and advantages of WBS:

  • It creates accountability, as with the number of work packages and tasks provided there are levels of people accountable to complete the given task. So, it doesn’t let people hide under the “cover of broadness” and provide them the responsibility of a task.
  • It ensures that there is no overlapping of deliverables or gaps in responsibility or resources.
  • It coerces the project manager and team members to create detailed steps. The process alone helps in clarifying doubts, raises critical issues, and narrows down the scope of the project.
  • Using a work breakdown structure is also important because it breaks the whole project into manageable chunks.
  • It ultimately sets the foundation for estimating time and costs along with allocating resources.
  • It also lets management and whole team members view how the project is progressing.
  • A well-crafted work breakdown structure in project management keeps your team excited, improves productivity, and enables more creativity and brainstorming.
  • It also breeds communication between team members and prevents problems.

These are a few of the many other benefits of a work breakdown structure that let you know why it is important to use WBS in project management. Its purpose is also the same as its uses as it helps in defining the scope of the project more accurately and specifically. Further, it makes the deliverable concrete and precise to let the team know what has to be accomplished under each deliverable. 

How can Projectopia help?

When it comes to project management, Projectopia is the best plugin for WordPress. We all know how chaotic a situation becomes for a project manager and its team, to work on a project. As they have to complete the work on time along with keeping transparent communication with clients. 

In such cases, Projectopia has come as a savior for teams because it not only manages and tracks tasks but you can also add client(s) and their team. Along with that, there are support tickets, lead generation, project templates (reusable), calendars, task progress bars, client dashboard and so much more. 

Conclusion

So, this was a little guide on what is work breakdown structure. Work breakdown structure in project management lets the project manager plan the project effectively by assigning tasks, time frames, and costs to the project. It makes the whole Project Management process consistent and ensures effective execution of the project. Therefore, it is an essential part of project management that you should not skip.

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