What is Work Breakdown Structure?Work Breakdown Structure or WBS is a method used to decompose a project or large work into smaller manageable chunks of work. The PMBOK defines WBS as a "deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team." It is widely used in the area of project management to break down a project into smaller tasks.
|Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)|
Why do you need a work breakdown structure?
What is the 100% rule in Work Breakdown Structure?
How to create a Work Breakdown Structure?
|How to create a work breakdown structure|
Step 1: Understand the work being done in the project.
Step 2: Organize a planning workshop this is a very effective way of coming up with the WBS
Step 3: Document the Work Breakdown Structure
Step 4: Socialize the WBS
Step 5: Integrate the WBS into your project plan
Work Breakdown Structure Template Excel
|Work Breakdown Structure Template Excel|
- Description of the task.
- The person is responsible for delivering that task.
- Resources required to complete the task.
- Acceptance criteria that will be used for sign-off.
- Constraints regarding time, cost, and others (e.g., quality).
Work Breakdown Structure Example: WBS for Software Testing
Work Breakdown Structure in MS Project
|WBS MS Project|
Customizing the WBS Column
- “Sequence”: The user can choose between numbers, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and characters. If the user decides numbers in the top row, uppercase letters in the second row, and characters in the third, then the WBS sequence will be 1.A.*. The numbers and letters are sequential (ordered), but the characters are random.
- “Length”: Here, it is possible to limit the number of numbers, letters, or characters. The default is “Any,” which means that MSP will add characters as needed. If the user chooses “2” in the numbers row, then 1 will turn into 01. If the user chooses “3” in the uppercase row, then A will turn into AAA. It is recommended to leave the default “Any.”At the bottom of the menu, there are 2 checkboxes, and it is recommended to check them both. This will result in MSP automatically adding a WBS number to any rows that are added, and that it will make sure that there aren’t any duplicates in the WBS code.
Best Practices when working with WBS
- Top-Down: The preferred method of building a WBS file is by starting with the high-level plan. Each task in the HLP should be represented in the first tier of the WBS. Then break each task into smaller work blocks.
- 100% rule: Make sure that all of the needed efforts that go into completing the project appear in the WBS. This means that if the WBS is all done, then the project is as well.
- No overlap: Each WBS block must have one clear owner, and no task from the project’s scope should appear twice in the WBS.
- Deliverable is driven: The WBS shouldn’t be driven by effort or action but by deliverables or outcomes.
- Look: Prefer a graphical look over a textual one, which clearly states the hierarchy.
- Grammar: Use nouns over verbs. For example: “Analysis Document” over “Analysis Gathering.”
- Levels: A WBS should contain at least 2 hierarchy levels. Otherwise, it is a to-do list.
- KIS (Keep it Simple): Don’t go into a lot of detail; try not to create more than 6-7 tiers of work blocks.
- If you have access to Visio, prefer it over Word.