Breaking work into smaller tasks is a common productivity technique used to make work more manageable and usable. For projects, the Job Breakdown Structure (WBS) is the method that uses this methodology and is one of the most relevant project management documents. It combines the scope, cost and schedule baselines to ensure that project plans are aligned.
The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) describes the work Breakdown Framework as a “delivery-oriented hierarchical decomposition of job to be carried out by the project team.” There are two types of WBS: 1) Delivery-based and 2) Phase-based. The Deliverable-Based approach is the most popular and preferred approach. The key difference between the two methods is the elements found in the first stage of the WBS.
Deliverable-Based Work Breakdown Structure
A Deliverable oriented Work Breakdown Structure will clearly demonstrate the relationship between the project deliverables (i.e., products, services or results) and the scope (i.e., work to be executed).
How to Make a Work Breakdown Structure
The Better Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) shall be formed using the iterative process by following these measures and complying with the following guidelines:
- GATHER CRITICAL DOCUMENTS
- Gather critical project documents.
- Identify content that contains the project deliverables, such as the Project Charter, Scope Statement & Project Management Plan (PMP) subsidiary plans.
- IDENTIFY KEY TEAM MEMBERS
- Identify the appropriate project team members.
- Analyze the documents & identify the deliverables.
- DEFINE LEVEL 1 ELEMENTS
- Define the Level 1 Elements. Level 1 Elements are summary deliverable descriptions that must capture 100% of the project scope.
- Verify 100% of scope is captured. This requirement is commonly known as the 100% rule.
- DECOMPOSE (BREAKDOWN) ELEMENTS
- Start the process of subdividing the Level 1 deliverables into unique lower level deliverables. This technique of “breaking down” is called decomposition.
- Continue the breakdown of the work until the work covered in each Element is managed by a single individual or organization. Ensure that all Elements are mutually exclusive.
Ask the question, can any more decomposition make the project more manageable? If the response is “no,” the WBS will be done.
- CREATE WBS DICTIONARY
- Define the content of the WBS Dictionary. The WBS Dictionary is a narrative summary of the work covered by each feature in the WBS. The lowest element level in the WBS is called Job Packages.
- Create WBS Dictionary descriptions in the Work Package Level with sufficient detail to ensure that 100% of the project scope is protected. The definitions should include details such as boundaries, milestones, risks, owners, costs, etc.
- CREATE GANTT CHART SCHEDULE
- Decompose of the Work Packages to activities as appropriate.
- Export or enter the Work Breakdown Structure into a Gantt chart for further scheduling & project tracking.
Use a Project Management Software
You might want to use a simple Word template, or you might want to use something provided by your flow chart tool. But if you want WBS to integrate with the rest of your project papers, your project management programme is the best source of templates.