A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a detailed and organised list of activities needed to complete a project. WBS helps project managers, team members, and stakeholders define the scope of work required for a given project. A work
Breakdown structure can be used for large, complex projects or for small ones. It is an important tool for organising your project plan and managing the scope of the project. In this article, I am going to discuss with you the work breakdown structure. What is it? What is the importance of work breakdown structure in making a project successful? Let’s start with the definition of work breakdown structure.
What is the work breakdown structure?
In project scheduling, a work breakdown structure (WBS) is a hierarchical decomposition of the total work to be accomplished into smaller components. The components in the work breakdown structure are referred to as “work packages.” The work breakdown structure is used in many different fields, including the process industries in the areas of cost of quality, total quality management and continuous improvement, software engineering for project planning and management, system engineering and systems analysis, as well as programme management, construction management, and project management. More recently, WBS has been applied to programme cost estimation. The work breakdown structure organises the various elements of a project into distinct groupings called “work packages.” A work package is the unit of effort within the work breakdown structure.
Almost everyone involved in project management has some knowledge of the work breakdown structure. Project managers use this tool in making project schedules. You have to know the importance of a work breakdown structure to make a professional project schedule. But, first we should know what is meant by “project schedule.”
What is the project schedule?
A project schedule is a list of your project parts or milestones and your activities to complete a project. A project schedule must include the following: the duration of the project; start and end dates of the project; cost of completing a project. A good project schedule is very crucial for successful project management. A work breakdown structure is an essential tool for making project schedules. You are unable to prepare a professional project schedule without first making a good work breakdown structure.
The importance of work breakdown structure in a professional project schedule
- Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the project scope, developed during project planning, which defines all the work required to complete the project. It is a high-level summary of all the work activities and tasks that need to be performed to complete a project.
- Work Breakdown Structure aids in defining and organising the total scope of work into small chunks or units that an individual or group can easily handle. This helps in better control over project costs, time, quality, and resources.
- The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) serves as a roadmap for effective project management by dividing large, complex projects into smaller sub-projects. It helps in effective resource allocation by identifying critical path activities and monitoring progress against schedule contingency plans.
- It also ensures better control over cost and quality by identifying interrelationships between various elements of scope and thereby identifying critical path activities.
- It’s important for every project to have a work breakdown structure because it helps you visualise the project as a whole and track progress on each task individually.
- Without it, there would be no way to divide tasks into manageable components that could then be assigned resources (labor), costs (labor + materials), duration (time required), or effort (number of labour hours).This makes it easier for project managers to monitor progress and identify potential problems before they become too big to handle.
- It assists project managers with organisational change management, as well as risk assessment for each activity.
The goal of the WBS is to help create a view or snapshot of a specific project planned in greater detail. It is a way for managers to see the project strategically and for planners to determine what needs to be done. As important as schedules and budgets are, without WBS, these other pieces aren’t as effective.
The importance of a good WBS cannot be overstated. It is an absolutely foundational component of any successful project schedule. It is commonly called the backbone of a project schedule, and find it most useful in providing a quick and easy reference for the team to see how their tasks are organised or where they fit into the big picture. This organizational structure can also reduce risk during project execution by clearly communicating the dependencies between different project tasks.