Work Breakdown Structure
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What is a Work Breakdown Structure?

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a method of breaking down a project into manageable portions. It is a great tool for planning, cost estimating, and monitoring a project.

The first step in creating a WBS is to identify the main deliverables. This can be done by using the progressive elaboration technique.

Identifying the main deliverables

A WBS is a hierarchical breakdown of the project scope into different levels. Each level contains a more detailed description of the deliverables that must be completed. Each level also has a set of tasks that must be performed to create the deliverable. This helps to prevent the development of an over-complicated and expensive project.

The first step in creating a WBS is to identify the main deliverables of the project. Then, you can break down each one into unique, smaller deliverable items. You can do this by using a process-based or a deliverable-based work breakdown structure.

A good WBS should focus on the outcome of the work rather than the activities. It should also be mutually exclusive, meaning that no two elements at a particular level can overlap in their deliverables or their work. This is meant to reduce confusion and miscommunication. Each element should also be described in nouns, not verbs. This helps to make it more understandable for the team members.

Decomposing the high-level tasks into sub-tasks

Once the main deliverables have been identified, it’s time to start decomposing the high-level tasks into sub-tasks. This step is usually done by the project managers and the subject matter experts involved in the project. Each high-level task is broken down into unique smaller deliverable items, which are known as work packages. These work packages are then mapped out in a hierarchical structure and assigned to specific people for execution.

This helps to manage the complexity of a large project, and it also allows you to create a more detailed timeline for your projects. This process is typically facilitated by project management software, such as GanttPRO.

It is important to remember that each work package must be mutually exclusive, or it could cause ambiguity or confusion regarding responsibility. The best way to avoid this problem is by defining each task in terms of outcomes, rather than activities. This helps to prevent overlapping work and reduce rework.

Organizing the sub-tasks into work packages

A good WBS should be easy to read, allowing participants to easily identify the project’s components. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as using a tree diagram or spreadsheets. Regardless of the format, it is important to follow the 100% rule, which states that each task must be included in the WBS if it contributes one percent or more to the project’s overall product.

Another important step is to organize the tasks into work packages. This allows teams to complete their work in a parallel manner and also helps managers identify dependencies between tasks. Each work package should have a clear description, including a description of the deliverables and activities.

The WBS can be visualized using a Gantt chart, which can help project management professionals schedule activities and manage tasks. It can also be used to track the progress of each task, which is helpful for identifying areas where risks are high and for managing costs.

Developing the WBS

Creating the WBS is an important step in defining the project’s scope. It is best to start by identifying the key deliverables and organizing them into categories. This will help in determining how the project should be managed and provide an accurate representation of the project’s scope. A key thing to keep in mind is the 100% rule: ensure that every WBS element consists of only one type of action. For example, if your WBS includes multiple tasks to review animation and check it for quality, make sure that these are mutually exclusive.

The next step is to break down each category of the deliverable into unique smaller deliverables. This will include the tasks and sub-tasks that are required to complete those deliverables. Eventually, these will be organized into work packages that define the scope, duration, and costs for each task. This will ensure that the project is managed effectively and reduce risks. It will also make it easier to track and monitor project progress.

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