How to create a work breakdown structure and its Benefits & Example


Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is an essential part of the Project Management. The Work Breakdown Structure was developed by U.S. defence establishment and is described in a Military Standard (MIL-STD) 881B.


The main aim of the Work Breakdown Structure is to divide the whole project into number of small parts. WBS can be represented graphical methods such as a hierarchical tree, tabular form etc. As that of graphical nature of the WBS, it will be helpful for the Project Manager to ensure about the adopting or not the particular decisions made by him for the success of the Project. WBS is a special attribute in the success of a Project. WBS follows task oriented approach also. But task oriented approach is good only for a small project rather than large project. Main benefit of the task oriented approach is that these are easy to understand.

Generally project schedules are built by use of WBS. Before creating the Work down break structure it is the major responsibility of the project manager to define all the key attributes. After defining the key attributes identifies the different task which are required to reach those goals. Work Break down structure is like a hierarchical tree. The primary requirements are at the top of the tree and all the secondary requirements of the project are at the bottom side.

Also, creation of WBS depends upon size of project. The activities which are necessary at the starting point of the project are define at the top of the tree rest of all are breakdown in to the small parts and this process is continue until the work required to complete all of the activities are defined. Small project deliverables may take one or two levels of work breakdown. Others may take three, four, or more.

Benefits for creating a WBS:

  1. It is necessary to divide whole project into sub projects so that all the team members can view the whole work and also make a check that all the work which is already defined is going to complete or not.
  2. By creating a WBS all the work is defined, so it is easy to know about the total cost of the project before its completion.
  3. With the WBS team member shows their calibre. Team leader knows about the specialization of the team member. Specific tasks are assigned to specific team member, who is responsible for its completion.
  4. During the process of creating the WBS project manager must know about the resources which are required for completion of the project.
  5. As in WBS whole project is divided into number of sub projects so it is easy to manage all these and easy to make schedule of their time of completion.

Here is an example of a graphical representation of a WBS:

How to create a work breakdown structure and its benefits & best practices, Example

It is not necessary to expand the tasks in only three level. You can expand it to any number of levels. More expanded would be more accurate & add more value to the project. Along with the task & sub tasks, budget & %age share of each tasks or if it is a sub task, then %age share of sub task in the parent task can be mentioned.

Overall I would say, WBS is not only a schedule for the project but it is a technique by which work is understood from top to bottom. After completion of WBS project manager can make the sequencing the activities, estimate the cost of project, estimate time of completion.


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