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What is a Work Breakdown Structure?

What is a Work Breakdown Structure?

In a nutshell, a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is used when you want to break down a project into smaller, more manageable parts.

It is a key deliverable in the planning phase of the project management process, letting the project managers plan their work more competently.

The Work Breakdown Structure provides a number of checkpoints by which the PM, the project team, and the organization can measure their progress. Visually the work breakdown structure is viewed as a diagram of steps that are required for a specific project.

It begins with a top-level deliverable and is further broken down into sub deliverables. As a project manager, you are able to view and plan your work more efficiently and effectively execute your project objectives with ease.

A well-produced, organized, and detailed WBS can also assist the key project personnel in the effective allocation of resources, budgets, scheduling, and risk management within the project.

The purpose of the Work Breakdown Structure to a project and the project team is to:

  1. Help define and organize the complete scope of the project by breaking it down into more specific parts
  2. Help with the visibility of the project so that the project team know exactly what has been accomplished at each deliverable
  3. Ensure that nothing gets missed or is overlapped over the project’s lifespan
  4. Show where the milestones are along the way to the completion of the project
  5. Try and identify potential risks to any given project
  6. Help formulate a potential communication plan across the project team and management
  7. Identify the impact of a delayed project deliverable on the overall project

The Work Breakdown Structure is the first step in producing a quality project plan and setting the project manager and their team up to visualize the end goal of their project. Done properly, your WBS will be easy to update and your project team will clearly see where they are accountable in the project. Ultimately the Work Breakdown Structure helps deliver a successful project from initiation to completion.

The Cora solution is methodology agnostic and designed to allow for any organization’s project and program management processes to be managed easily. Learn more about our PPM Implementation process