Scope Management

Breaking Down Projects: An Introduction to Work Breakdown Structures (WBS)

Let's imagine you're tasked with planning a corporate event. The project seems overwhelming with a multitude of tasks including venue selection, catering arrangements, guest invitations, and more. This is where the creation of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) comes into play, a crucial step in project scope management.

The WBS involves subdividing project deliverables and work into smaller, more manageable components. For instance, "catering arrangements" could be broken down into "menu selection," "caterer booking," and "dietary requirements check." This process is typically performed once or at predefined points during the project, helping to make a complex project like event planning more manageable.

The main advantage of the "Create WBS" process is that it provides a clear framework for what needs to be delivered in a project. It helps in organizing and defining the total scope of the project, ensuring that all work necessary to achieve the project objectives and create the required deliverables is accounted for.

The WBS is a hierarchical breakdown of the total scope of work. It represents the work specified in the current approved project scope statement. The lowest level of the WBS, known as work packages, contains the planned work. These work packages are used to group activities for scheduling, estimating, monitoring, and controlling work.

It's important to note that within the WBS, 'work' refers to the work products or deliverables resulting from an activity, not the activity itself. This distinction is crucial for understanding the structure and purpose of the WBS.

Reflecting on our corporate event example, the inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs of the "Create WBS" process are key to its successful execution. These include project scope statements, decomposition tools, and the WBS itself, among others.

Understanding these elements can help project managers effectively create and utilize the WBS to manage project scope. By breaking down a complex task like "catering arrangements" into smaller tasks, the project manager can better manage and control the project, ensuring a successful corporate event.