Understanding Work Breakdown Structure For Projects

Understanding Work Breakdown Structure For Projects


In my previous article, I talked about all that you need to know about the project scope statement for projects, in this article, I want to talk about all that you need to know about the Work Breakdown Structure for projects. Follow me as we will look at that in this article.



It’s always easier to successfully complete a project by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks.


Creating an effective WBS help improve the accuracy of your time, cost, and resource estimates by providing a baseline for performance measurement and project control.

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What it is…

A Work Breakdown Structure is a logical grouping of project deliverables arranged in a hierarchical structure.


A WBS defines the total scope of work required to complete the project. The deliverables and their components sub deliverables are represented on the WBS in a level of descending order.



The smallest, most granular deliverable that cannot be further subdivided is called a work package.


A work package must describe a deliverable that can be adequately scheduled, budgeted, and assigned to an individual person or group.



WBS feature several. input elements, such as organisational process elements, the project scope statement, the project scope management plan, and approved change requests.

Typical example…

Movie making is a great example of a process that employs WBS. A film director is responsible for the coordination of several different departments, such as the set designers, photographers and editors.



Creating a robust WBS allows the director to easily manage the numerous crews working on the film it will organise every component of the film into separate work packages, each with its own deliverables, deadlines and budgets.



Organisation …

In a WBS, major components of work can be grouped by:

  • Major project deliverables
  • Life cycle phases
  • Organisational or functional responsibility
  • Geographical location.


WBS Dictionary…

The WBS Dictionary is an auxiliary document containing details about each element in the WBS. It may contain information, such as a description of work, work packages, code of accounts identification, milestones, contract information, coat, quality requirements, resource requirements, time estimates, or resource information, for measuring performance and completeness.


Decomposition is a technique for creating the WBS by subdividing project work to the work package level. An analysis of the scope statement will help identify the project work.


The level of decomposition is stopped when the components of the work packages are sufficient to complete the work and can be assigned to an individual, cost estimated, scheduled and monitored.


Code of accounts…

A code of accounts is any system that is used for numbering the elements in a WBS. A code of accounts system allows project managers to easily track individual WBS components.



This system is helpful in the areas of performance, reporting and cost.

Typical example…

A school district requires its school to comply with a uniform code of accounts so that it can easily record, track, and document specific types of revenues and expenditures in every school.


The code of accounts could be shown as Function/Category/Program. If functions include administrative salaries (30), teacher salaries (31), and consultant fee (32); categories include para-professional expenditures (100) and professional expenditures (101); programs include regular instructional (411), special education ((417), and languages (419), then the fee paid to a consultant leading a teacher training workshop in special education services will be coded 32/10/417.



Action Point
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I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We will appreciate it if you can drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.


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Adeniyi Salau

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