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A Completed Guide to What is Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Project Management?

Last updated on Jun 25,2024 502 Views

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Tech enthusiast exploring innovation's frontiers through words. Join me in exploring the... Tech enthusiast exploring innovation's frontiers through words. Join me in exploring the forefront of technology, where I simplify complex concepts into everyday understanding.

The work breakdown structure (WBS) in project management is like breaking down the entire project into smaller, more manageable parts, just like a project roadmap. It’s a visual tool that helps teams understand and organize the tasks in order to complete the project. WBS is a hierarchy presentation of work that simplifies a project’s planning, tracking, and execution and makes complex projects more achievable.

In this Blog, we will cover the following topics

What is WBS in Project Management?

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) stands as a cornerstone in the world of project management. It’s essentially a hierarchical decomposition of a project into phases, deliverables, and work packages. Imagine it as a visual roadmap that breaks down a project into manageable chunks, providing clarity on tasks, responsibilities, and timelines.

At its core, the WBS helps project managers and teams understand the scope of work, ensuring nothing is overlooked. By breaking the project into smaller, more manageable components, it simplifies planning, tracking, and execution. Each level of the WBS reveals more detail, aiding in resource allocation, scheduling, and ultimately, successful project completion.

In simple terms, the WBS serves as a guiding framework, transforming a complex project into a series of achievable steps, propelling teams towards their goals with precision and efficiency.

Now, let’s use an example to understand the Work Breakdown Structure better.

Illustrative Example of a WBS in Project Management

The “Develop Mobile App” WBS in Project Management is divided into levels: Level 1 represents the main project phases, including research and planning, design, development, testing, deployment, and post-launch activities. Level 2 divides each phase into specific tasks and subtasks, resulting in a hierarchical structure for project management.

What are the types of WBS in Project Management?

Different types of Work breakdown structures are:

1. Phase-Based WBS:

The phase-based Work Breakdown Structure divides a project into major phases that represent significant milestones in its progress.

It provides a high-level overview of the project’s life cycle, making it easier to plan and track progress through the various stages.

This approach is useful for projects with well-defined phases because it aids in resource allocation and effective management of interstage dependencies.

Example:

The “Develop a Website” breakdown is an example of a Phase-Based Work Breakdown Structure, as it divides the project into clear and distinct phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Testing, Deployment, and Maintenance. Each phase contains a set of related activities, which contribute to a structured and sequential approach to managing the website development project.

The next type of WBS is based on deliverables

2. Deliverable-Based WBS

The delivery-based The work breakdown structure organizes the project around tangible outcomes or deliverables, focusing on the results that the project is intended to produce. Each level of the hierarchy represents a specific deliverable, providing a clear understanding of the project’s goals and products. This approach helps to track progress by focusing on the completion of key deliverables, which ensures that project objectives are met.

Example: 

This hierarchical structure is a Deliverable-Based Work Breakdown Structure for a project, emphasizing specific outcomes or documents associated with each major project component, such as the project scope document, market research report, requirements document, and testing reports, to ensure a clear focus on tangible deliverables throughout the project phases.

Another type of WBS is process-oriented

3. Process-Oriented WBS:

The process-oriented work breakdown structure organizes the project according to the workflow or processes involved in task completion. It shows the sequence of activities and tasks required for a successful project execution. This approach is useful for projects that focus on optimizing processes, ensuring efficiency, and maintaining a structured workflow throughout the project’s life cycle.

Example: 

This hierarchical structure is an example of a Process-Oriented Work Breakdown Structure for website development, with a focus on the sequential workflow and processes involved in each project phase, including requirements gathering, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance and support.

Moving forward, let’s explore the various types of WBS charts.

What are the types of WBS charts?

  • Tree Diagram:

Tree diagram Presents the project in a hierarchical tree-like structure. In which each level of the hierarchy represents a more detailed breakdown of the project.

Advantages:

  • Clear hierarchical structure.
  • Easy to understand and navigate.
  • Visually represents the breakdown of the project into phases and tasks.

 

  • Gantt Chart with WBS:

Integrates the WBS with a Gantt chart to show the relationship between project phases and the timeline. Each phase or task from the WBS corresponds to a bar on the Gantt chart.

Advantages:

  • Integrates WBS with project scheduling.
  • Provides a visual representation of tasks and their timeline.
  • Allows for tracking progress over time.

 

  • PERT Chart (Program Evaluation and Review Technique):

Represents project tasks and their dependencies using nodes and arrows. It is Useful for visualizing the flow and sequence of project activities.

Advantages:

  • Visualizes task dependencies and relationships.
  • Highlights critical paths and project milestones.
  • Useful for understanding the flow and sequence of project activities.

Now that we’ve covered the different types of WBS charts, let’s move on to learning how to create a WBS.

How to create a WBS in Project Management?

Here are the steps to create a Work breakdown structure

  1. First, Define the project’s objectives, deliverables, and constraints clearly
  2. Then, Identify the project’s key components, such as phases or deliverables.
  3. Once the key components are identified, start Developing the highest-level breakdown of major project components.
  4. Later, Break down each top-level element into smaller, more manageable subcomponents.
  5. Organize the WBS in a hierarchical structure, with each level representing increasing detail.
  6. Finally, Assign unique identifiers to each element and document the work breakdown structure for team and stakeholder understanding.

Hope you now have a clear understanding of the steps to create a WBS.

This brings us to the end of this blog on WBS in Project Management. I hope I was able to explain What WBS is and the Types of WBS clearly. If you want to get trained in the PMP Certification Course, and if you want to know the latest PMP Exam Content Outline then, consider the PMP Trainingoffered by Edureka. PMP Certification is a globally recognized project management professional certification. 

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    A Completed Guide to What is Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Project Management?

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