Creating a work breakdown structure

A work breakdown structure is a key element in creating a project plan. It allows you to identify and sequence activities to be carried out to ensure successfully project delivery.

Create a work breakdown structure

The project Manager and project team are busy creating a project plan. They are breaking the work down into the smallest level of the wbs. What are they creating?

Having a clear work breakdown structure (wbs) allows everyone involved in the project to have a clear understanding of their role in the project. A useful work breakdown structure may be created using three steps:

  1. Step 1: Start with the major deliverables

A wbs will break a project into a smaller levels of details where each task contributing to a deliverable will be identified and recorded. An easy way to start the process is to identify the major deliverables for the project.

  1. Step 2: Identify and record all tasks required to achieve the major deliverables

A task is a recognized activity that produces a result. Once you have identified the tasks required, you will need to break each task down into smaller, lower level tasks eg.

1.0. Exclusive Events year-end party

1.1. Invitations

1.1.1. Prepare guest list

1.1.2. Invite guests

1.1.3. Accept RSVPS

1.2. Venue preparation

1.2.1. Set out tables and chairs

1.2.2. Lay Table cloths

This has been recognized as one of the most difficult steps in the planning process. When breaking down a deliverable into the most granular tasks, the project manager may find that he/she is unable to list all the detailed tasks required. Make use of team members, with a variety of skills for this process.

  1. Step 3: Organise the wbs

Once you have identified the groups of tasks, known as work packages, you are able to rearrange them in different ways. The way you arrange the work packages may emphasise a different aspect of your project.

         Criteria for a successful wbs:

  1. Start at the top
  2. Work packages should “add up to” the summary task – tasks should produce outcomes
  3. A summary task and work package must be named as an activity - include a strong very and strong noun

  • "To do" list
  • Activity definition
  • Task list
  • Work package