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    What is a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

    Learn about Work Breakdown Structure and How to Make WBS Chart. Free templates.

    What is a Work Breakdown Structure?

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    Breaking work into smaller tasks is a common productivity technique used to make the work more manageable and approachable. For projects, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is the tool that utilizes this technique and is one of the most important project management documents. It singlehandedly integrates scope, cost and schedule baselines ensuring that project plans are in alignment.

    The Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines the Work Breakdown Structure as a “deliverable oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team.” There are two types of WBS: 1) Deliverable-Based and 2) Phase-Based. The most common and preferred approach is the Deliverable-Based approach. The main difference between the two approaches are the Elements identified in the first Level of the WBS.

    Deliverable-Based Work Breakdown Structure

    A Deliverable-Based Work Breakdown Structure clearly demonstrates the relationship between the project deliverables (i.e., products, services or results) and the scope (i.e., work to be executed). Figure 1 is an example of a Deliverable-Based WBS for building a house. Figure 2 is an example of a Phase-Based WBS for the same project.

    Figure 1 – Deliverable Based Work Breakdown Structure

    In Figure 1, the Level 1 Elements are summary deliverable descriptions. The Level 2 Elements in each Leg of the WBS are all the unique deliverables required to create the respective Level 1 deliverable.

    Phase-Based Work Breakdown Structure

    In Figure 2, a Phase-Based WBS, the Level 1 has five Elements. Each of these Elements are typical phases of a project. The Level 2 Elements are the unique deliverables in each phase. Regardless of the type of WBS, the lower Level Elements are all deliverables. Notice that Elements in different Legs have the same name. A Phase-Based WBS requires work associated with multiple elements be divided into the work unique to each Level 1 Element. A WBS Dictionary is created to describe the work in each Element.

    Figure 2 - Phase Based Work Breakdown Structure

    A good WBS is simply one that makes the project more manageable. Every project is different; every project manager is different and every WBS is different. So, the right WBS is the one that best answers the question, “What structure makes the project more manageable?”.

    How to Make a Work Breakdown Structure

    A good Work Breakdown Structure is created using an iterative process by following these steps and meeting these guidelines:


    Gather critical project documents.

    Identify content containing project deliverables, such as the Project Charter, Scope Statement and Project Management Plan (PMP) subsidiary plans.


    Identify the appropriate project team members.

    Analyze the documents and identify the deliverables.


    Define the Level 1 Elements. Level 1 Elements are summary deliverable descriptions that must capture 100% of the project scope.

    Verify 100% of scope is captured. This requirement is commonly referred to as the 100% Rule.


    Begin the process of breaking the Level 1 deliverables into unique lower Level deliverables. This “breaking down” technique is called Decomposition.

    Continue breaking down the work until the work covered in each Element is managed by a single individual or organization. Ensure that all Elements are mutually exclusive.

    Ask the question, would any additional decomposition make the project more manageable? If the answer is “no”, the WBS is done.


    Define the content of the WBS Dictionary. The WBS Dictionary is a narrative description of the work covered in each Element in the WBS. The lowest Level Elements in the WBS are called Work Packages.

    Create the WBS Dictionary descriptions at the Work Package Level with detail enough to ensure that 100% of the project scope is covered. The descriptions should include information such as, boundaries, milestones, risks, owner, costs, etc.


    Decompose the Work Packages to activities as appropriate.

    Export or enter the Work Breakdown Structure into a Gantt chart for further scheduling and project tracking.

    Caution: It is possible to break the work down too much. How much is too much? Since cost and schedule data collection, analysis and reporting are connected to the WBS, a very detailed WBS could require a significant amount of unnecessary effort to manage.

    There are many WBS software tools available. Some of them are based on mind mapping and others are drawing tools. You can read about these tools in this WBS software review.

    Here is an example of how to make a WBS with MindView:

    How to Use a Work Breakdown Structure

    The Work Breakdown Structure is used for many different things. Initially, it serves as a planning tool to help the project team plan, define and organize scope with deliverables. The WBS is also used as the primary source of schedule and cost estimate activities. But, its biggest contributions to a project are is use as a description all of the work and as a monitoring and controlling tool.

    स्रोत : www.workbreakdownstructure.com

    Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) In Project Management – Forbes Advisor

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    Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) In Project Management

    Christine Organ,  Cassie Bottorff

    Contributor,  Editor

    Reviewed By Rob Watts editor Reviewed By

    Updated: Mar 25, 2022, 12:14pm

    Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.


    A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a project management tool that takes a step-by-step approach to complete large projects with several moving pieces. By breaking down the project into smaller components, a WBS can integrate scope, cost and deliverables into a single tool. While most WBSes are deliverable-based, they can also be phase-based. Read on to learn more about what a WBS can do for your business.

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    What is Work Breakdown Structure?

    The Project Management Institute’s PMBOK® Guide—Third Edition defines WBS as “a deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables. It organizes and defines the total scope of the project. Each descending level represents an increasingly detailed definition of the project work. The WBS is decomposed into work packages. The deliverable orientation of the hierarchy includes both internal and external deliverables.”

    Some commonly used terms used with WBS project management include:

    Acceptance Criteria: Standards to be met to achieve customer or other stakeholder requirementsBudget: Expenses associated with the project, which can be broken down by deliverables or phasesDeliverables: The product, service or results created at various stages of the project. For instance, in a website design project, a deliverable-based WBS would be structured around deliverables such as URL, layout and written contentMilestones: Critical stages of the project identified in the WBSPhases: The various stages of a project. For instance, in a website design project, a phase-based WBS would be structured around things like discovery, design and launch, rather than specific deliverablesWBS: Work breakdown structure

    Key Characteristics and Components of the WBS

    A key component of a work breakdown structure is the 100% rule. This means that the WBS encompasses all aspects of the project, as well as the person or team responsible for that component.

    Another key characteristic of WBS is its leveled structure. When applying the 100% rule, Level 1 of the WBS will be the totality of the project. Some WBSs include a description or overview of the project at the top level if it isn’t self-explanatory. Then each level below breaks down the project into further detail, using the 100% rule at each level. For instance,if you’re creating a WBS for a new website, Level 1 would be “ Website for New Brand”. Level 2 elements break down the deliverables necessary to bring the project to completion, such as secure website url, design layout and develop content. Each subsequent level continues breaking down the elements into further detail.

    Why a WBS Is Helpful for Project Management

    Work breakdown structure is a helpful project management tool for several reasons. First, it breaks down the project into bite-size components, making the project less overwhelming and more manageable.

    Second, it provides a roadmap for the different individuals and teams working on the project. Many projects involve different teams moving in tandem, all of which need to coordinate and integrate for project completion. By using a WBS, the various individuals and teams can focus on their specific tasks and deliverables while also seeing how their piece fits into the project as a whole.

    Finally, a WBS is an excellent tool for measuring project completion, identifying milestones and allocating budget resources. By using the 100% rule, project managers can be confident that the project is properly budgeted and that they won’t run into any roadblocks due to a “surprise” deliverable.

    How To Create and Use a WBS Effectively

    To use a work breakdown structure effectively, it is important to include all components of a project (remember that 100% rule described above) but without too much detail. Turns out, there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to the WBS.

    स्रोत : www.forbes.com

    What Is Work Breakdown Structure in Project Management?

    Work breakdown structure (WBS) is a method of organizing and completing work in a project. We cover the methodology and processes in WBS that help you break down a project into more manageable pieces.

    What Is Work Breakdown Structure in Project Management?

    FAQ | Project Management Guide

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    What Is Work Breakdown Structure in Project Management?

    Work breakdown structure (WBS) in project management is a method for completing a complex, multi-step project. It's a way to divide and conquer large projects to get things done faster and more efficiently.

    The goal of a WBS is to make a large project more manageable. Breaking it down into smaller chunks means work can be done simultaneously by different team members, leading to better team productivity and easier project management.

    In Wrike, you can build a WBS by creating folders and subfolders and can go further to divide individual tasks into subtasks.

    How to create a work breakdown structure

    Before you create a work breakdown structure, it's essential to first assess the project scope by talking to all stakeholders and key team members involved.

    As the project manager, you want to ensure that all critical input and deliverables are gathered and transparently prioritized. You may use Gantt charts, flow charts, spreadsheets, or lists to show the hierarchical outline of importance and connectivity between the tasks needed to complete the project.

    After outlining the deliverables and tasks in order of completion, you can then assign each task to a project team member. Ensure no team member carries the majority of the project's weight by spreading duties and responsibilities across the team.

    Characteristics of a work breakdown structure

    The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines WBS as "a deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables."

    Each WBS level represents a new and increasingly detailed definition of work needed to complete the project.

    PMI's definition adds that a WBS structure must be constructed in a way that each new level in the hierarchy includes all the work needed to complete its parent task. This means that every parent task element must have more than one child task within it to consider the parent task element complete.

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    Work breakdown structure examples

    Your work breakdown structure for each project can be different.

    As a project manager, you may have to experiment to see which WBS works best for you and your team. The goal is to show the hierarchy of your projects and make progress clear to everyone involved — whether they are a team member or an external stakeholder.

    Here are some work breakdown structure examples. You can use any of these to outline your WBS.

    WBS spreadsheet: You can structure your WBS efficiently in a spreadsheet, noting the different phases, tasks, or deliverables in the columns and rows.WBS flowchart: You can structure your WBS in a diagrammatic workflow. Most WBS examples and templates you may find are flowcharts.WBS list: You can structure your WBS as a simple list of tasks or deliverables and subtasks. This is the most straightforward approach to make a WBS.Work breakdown structure Gantt chart. You can structure your WBS as a Gantt chart that represents both a spreadsheet and a timeline. With a Gantt chart-structured WBS, you can link task dependencies and show project milestones.

    Work breakdown structure example

    When created thoroughly, the work breakdown structure is a roadmap that guides a team when completing projects — whether simple or complex.

    Here's a work breakdown structure example.

    What is the difference between WBS and a work breakdown schedule?

    Various detailed project documents support the WBS. Amongst them are a risk management plan, quality plan, procurement plan, communications plan, staffing plan, and a work breakdown schedule plan.

    The work breakdown schedule includes the start and completion dates for all tasks, activities, and deliverables defined in the WBS.

    How to use Wrike as your work breakdown structure tool

    Using Wrike as a work breakdown structure tool, you can easily create folders and subfolders and go even further to divide these into tasks and subtasks.

    Following the steps to create a good work breakdown structure above, you can assign each task in the WBS to appropriate team members, and set due dates towards the final deliverable completion.

    स्रोत : www.wrike.com

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