Have you ever approached a more complex task by breaking it into smaller, more manageable units for more clarity? This is just what Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Project Management entails.
(WBS) Work breakdown structure in project management approach is a visual tool for outlining your project deliverables and breaking it down into smaller, manageable components known as work packages. It is a document with a hierarchical representation of all work as will be performed in the project, and is a precursor to the development of work schedule for the project.
The idea of breaking down large chunks of work into smaller, easily managed units is essentially to help project managers simplify the project execution and keep the project team focussed on accomplishing the project objectives.
In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about WBS in project management, all the elements that it contains as well as benefits associated with its use.
You will also learn about how Sinnaps online project management application and how this powerful project management tool can make all the difference in your project execution.
WBS in Project Management
According to PMBOK, WBS is defined as the “hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work to be carried out by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables”. The reason for this breakdown is to give the project manager a clearer view of the project so they can easily determine what costs as well as resources they would require to complete the task.
To create a project breakdown plan (WBS), the general rule is to begin with the project deliverables or product of the project, then decompose same into smaller chunks of work needed to accomplish the objective.
For even greater results, it is often accepted that more than one WBS be created in order to define the scope of a project. This brings us to the two types of WBS.
- Deliverable-oriented WBS: Otherwise known as product-oriented WBS is focused on breaking the product of the project into tangible (physical) components that must be delivered in order to satisfy the project requirement.
A deliverable-oriented WBS consist of either an interim or ultimate deliverable. And if we take the construction management of a residential building for example, then the interim WBS deliverables would include preliminary plans and specifications, bid documents, pre-construction mock-ups etc., while the concrete structure would be an example of the ultimate deliverable.
- Process-oriented WBS: This WBS on the other hand defines the entire project scope of work in terms of process steps. A process-oriented WBS clearly defines all the process steps that must be undertaken to deliver the product of the project.
To be an effective project manager, you need to know how to create a work breakdown structure. Therefore, we have included all the essential WBS elements below:
A good WBS covers all the essential requirements needed for project completion. In order to create a complete estimate of the required work, you need to include all work that must be done.
How to meet deadlines?
- WBS Dictionary
The WBS dictionary is a document which defines each term as found in the WBS. In addition to this, it serves as a reference for each component of the WBS and contains other relevant project information including milestones, deliverables, tasks, costs, etc.
- Clear Hierarchy of Elements
Essentially, the WBS walks backwards from the final project deliverable, with each breakdown further creating other WBS levels of which are further broken down into more component parts.
As an example, a car (level 1) can be broken down into an engine and a body frame (level 2). The engine can then further be broken down into such things as the combustion chambers, carburettor, and the likes (level 3) while the body is broken down into metals, spray, etc.
- Minimum Details
While it is important to have a comprehensive WBS, project managers must endeavour to keep every information to the minimum.
While there may exist certain rule of thumb to measure the entire process, it generally comes down to the level of familiarity the project manager has for the specific project.
It is also important to note that the WBS describes deliverables and not tasks. This will provide workers the leverage of choosing what approach is best at the time.
Define your critical path:
Benefits of WBS Online
As mentioned earlier, certain online platforms exist that can help you create workable WBS for your project. Sinnaps is a fully-featured WBS software with full-bodied project management capabilities including WBS Gantt chart. Let us see some of the benefits of WBS online creation using Sinnaps.
The work breakdown schedule template helps in managing and controlling the expectations of the project.
- Easily expandable and collapsible WBS
Packed with excellent features including task management and unlimited collaboration with team members.
- Quickly and easily view task details on WBS
By performing simple operations on your computer, you can quickly see details for each tasks in your WBS task breakdown at work.
- Add and remove tasks easily
This platform gives you a seamless capability to build your project WBS, add project deliverables and subtasks in the least time possible.
- Present your WBS diagram
Our interactive online WBS chart has powerful features that allows you to share your work breakdown schedule in any way you see fit – including PDF, Excel, screen share or print out.
A network diagram in project management helps to calculate project duration and create a visual map of your project from start to finish for you.
- Plan and Visualize your project
With this tool, you can easily breakdown you project deliverables into an intuitive project visualization, giving your team the latitude of focussing on the project deliverables right from inception of the project.