How to Create a Work Breakdown Structure in 6 Steps Template

It helps to clarify the scope of each task so that all team members understand their responsibilities. Depending on the nature of your project, start dividing by project phases, specific large deliverables, or sub-tasks. Divide the overarching project into smaller and smaller pieces, but stop before you get to the point of listing out every action that must be taken. Remember to focus on concrete deliverables rather than actions. The purpose of work breakdown structure software in project management is to organize and define the scope of your project. That includes a feature to make sure their workload is balanced.

  • However, both serve their own purpose and differ from one another by scope.
  • This structure also informs you what is happening and where.
  • By June 1962, DoD, NASA, and the aerospace industry published a document for the PERT/COST system, which described the WBS approach.
  • We also have a library of free project management templates, including a free WBS template, to get you started off right.

Wrike Blog Latest news and best practices on project management. All our tools are geared to making your project more efficient and effective. See for yourself by starting your free 30-day trial of our software. Task dependencies are tasks that cannot start until another is finished or started. Link tasks that are dependent on one another by dragging one to the other.

Deliverable-based structures

You may realize you need to work with external contractors once you fully understand what it will take to finish the project. Let’s look at some benefits of using a WBS during the project discovery phase. But that’s not to say there isn’t an opportunity to uncover something that will drastically improve how your approach your project work. Check out this video below to learn more about using a phased sprint approach. It’s more than asking a couple of questions — it’s a nuanced skill.

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A work breakdown structure tree diagram, also called a WBS chart, displays each WBS layer through a connected network diagram. In both Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project, a tree diagram will not automatically display while you create and view the WBS. However, both programs allow you to switch the WBS display as needed. A work breakdown structure list is an outline of each WBS layer.

Benefits of creating a Work Breakdown Structure

In order for a to be effective, everyone involved in the project needs to understand and buy into the system. This can be difficult to achieve, especially if people are resistant to change. It should only include the information that is absolutely necessary and nothing more. This level of simplicity makes it easier to understand and use. A good WBS uses standard terminology that is understood by everyone involved in the project.

work breakdown structure

Try and apply the 8/80 rule here if you’re stuck on how far to break down each phase or deliverable. You can also use a WBS from similar past projects to speed this up. These will be the tasks you need to be done to get each phase or deliverable over the line.

Task description

You must not add to your WBS any work package, task, or other work more than once. Otherwise, you will violate the 100% rule and receive incorrect effort and cost calculation results. Follow our step-by-step process alongside our WBS template, and you’ll be on the right path to smoother-running projects. Every project manager has some idea of what they are doing, how long they think things will take, and how much they think it will cost.

work breakdown structure

Plaky can help you organize your teams and tasks, as well as store all your important lists, documents, and correspondence in one place. With this, all the information necessary for creating an immaculate Work Breakdown Structure will be at your fingertips. Having a breakdown of all the deliverables or activities “on paper” will help identify dependencies among certain work packages that might influence the project later on. This is because the WBS is essentially an easy-to-follow roadmap to finishing a complicated project. It offers so many benefits that, even if there are other approaches they like better, project managers still choose it over any other.

WBS Approach in Project Management

They’re also especially helpful for switching between day, week, and month views for large projects. Along with timeline tracking, documenting task status is important for quick progress checks. This can be logged in a few different ways, but many teams use terms such as open, in progress, and complete.

work breakdown structure

Tasks, also known as activities, are the items you need to complete your project. Tasks are generally given a duration, start and finish date, and dependencies with other activities. While the WBS breaks the project down into smaller pieces, the WBS layer breaks those pieces down further into tasks. Creating a WBS before defining tasks is useful because it provides an overall roadmap to project completion. Project deliverables are the end result of work performed in a project. This is the product, service, or goal that you can achieve through work performance.

Work breakdown structure example

Deliverable-based WBSPhase-based Work Breakdown Structures organize the project work and required deliverables by the typical phases your project goes through. With a large project, it is common to run into issues like missed deadlines, increased scope, or an overrun budget. Tracking these deliverables at the WBS level can help you make sure that no deadline or budget constraint falls through the cracks and that your project stays on track. All deliverables and sub-deliverables must be mutually exclusive, which means they shouldn’t appear twice within the work breakdown structure.

For our WBS example, we’ll be creating a work breakdown structure to lay down the work plan for a commercial building construction project. This is potentially a complex project, but a WBS chart will take that complexity and boil the project scope down to simpler tasks to make the project manageable. In other words, a work breakdown structure serves as your map through complicated projects. Your project scope may include several phases or smaller sub-projects—and even those sub-projects can be broken down into tasks, deliverables, and work packages!

Benefits of Work Breakdown Structures

Both of these look the same visually, but they present information in different ways. The main difference is the way they divide the work at the second level. In a way, that is what work breakdown structure a WBS is — a graphic representation of a project being divided into smaller, more manageable chunks. And then, those chunks being subdivided into even smaller, bite-sized units.

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