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Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a hierarchical decomposition of the complete project scope into manageable parts of work. Each part will have a specific deliverable and project team has to complete all parts to complete the project.

 

An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Glory Gerald on 24th Nov 2020.

 

Applause for all the respondents - Kapil Gupta, Glory Gerald.

 

Also review the answer provided by Mr Venugopal R, Benchmark Six Sigma's in-house expert.

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Q 315. What is a Work Breakdown Structure and how does it help in project scope management? Explain with simple examples.

 

 

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Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a technique or a tool that is used to breakdown complex work to smaller tasks , thus making the overall work more manageable and approachable. It is a very popular project management tool that helps in dividing the the project deliverables into sub deliverables and work packages that will define work, duration, costs involved to carry out each of the tasks.

 

Steps to create Work Breakdown Structure for effective project scope management:

  1. Identify Team  Identify the team who will work on the project deliverables that may be divided further into sub deliverables. The team generally will include project managers and subject matter experts.
  2. Gather necessary documents : Gather all the required documents such as project charter that generally includes the business case, problem statement, project scope statement, objectives. list of team members and project management plan.
  3. Highlight the necessary Phases : Divide the Project scope to multiple phases based on the nature or complexity of the project. This will help in taking the project from conception to completion.
  4. Identify key deliverables : Key deliverables of the project are identified and the same are listed out that is targeted to be completed in each phase.
  5. Divide deliverables into sub deliverables(manageable tasks) With the help of the SMEs the identified key deliverables are further broken down to smaller parts of work also known as work packages.
  6. Assign every sub deliverable Once the manageable tasks are laid out, the same is assigned to every team member who will ensure to carry out each of the laid out manageable tasks. Every team member is provided with the tools, resources and authority they need to get the job done.

Benefits of Work Breakdown Structure:

  1. Helps in visualizing the scope of the project, thus making it easier to do the planning.
  2. Assigning responsibilities to the project team becomes easy.
  3. Helps in identifying the project milestones and control points.
  4. Helps in visualizing the important parts of work and identifying areas of risk.
  5. Helps in setting timelines for the project and ensuring that no work is duplicated or ignored.

Examples of Work Breakdown Structure:

1)    WBS Of Event Planning

 

image.thumb.png.7d7f311e514585b243ce9794bed9f80c.png

 

2) WBS Of Construction Project

 

image.thumb.png.cb26e72f63ff76de220621d98fcdae47.png

 

3) WBS Of Holiday Planning

 

image.png.bf46439620612b3729f1d262fdc820fb.png

 

4) WBS Of Software Project

 

image.png.50c8e777255eea69c680ee557c6c86a7.png

 

 

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Benchmark Six Sigma Expert View by Venugopal R

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is defined as “the Hierarchical Decomposition of total scope of work to be carried out by a project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables” – PMBOK

 

The concept of WBS has emerged from the PERT (Program Evaluation & Review Technique) by US Department of Défense. In 1987, the Project Management Institute (PMI) documented the WBS method for application on non-defense industries.

 

WBS is an important tool as part of the project scope management. The overall project deliverable is broken down to sub-deliverables and project work into smaller, manageable components. This will help in clear deployment of accountabilities across the project team members, while creating the visibility across the team as to how their activity connects to the overall project objective.

 

The WBS looks similar to an organization structure. An illustrative example for a WBS for creation of a Web application is given below:

image.thumb.png.3230366ad144987529131248f58aa00d.png

 

WBS would mainly provide the outcomes for each stage of break-down, and not the activities. One cannot expect prescriptive activities from WBS. It is common practice to provide hierarchical numbering system for each breakdown deliverable, for e.g. 1.0. 1.1, 1.1.1 etc.

 

Creating a WBS will act as a roadmap for the project manager in terms of the multiple deliverables for the project and how they lead to the overall deliverable. This brings in good control for the scope management making it easy to ensure that 100% of the tasks will get addressed through the components of WBS and any irrelevant component will not be included.

 

The components in the WBS need to be MECE (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive). This implies that while the WBS has to incorporate all the necessary tasks, there should not be overlap on any two components.

 

WBS principles provide guidelines for the level of detailing. Two to four levels of break-down are recommended. The duration of the activities for individual elements needs to be considered while deciding the final level of deliverables. One of the guidelines is to ensure that no activity at lowest level exceeds eighty hours of effort time. Another guideline is that the duration of the  smallest level activities should be within a single reporting period for the project.

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