Work Breakdown Structure Template

When planning for complex projects, an organization must create and follow a particular structure to help manage the complexities and ensure success.
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Work Breakdown Structure Template

About the Work Breakdown Structure Template

When planning for complex projects, an organization must create and follow a particular structure to help manage the complexities and ensure success.
A Work Breakdown Structure is an essential tool for several teams that need an organized, visual representation of the essential work that needs to be done with an additional breakdown of smaller assignments within the project.
When you look at a WBS template, it generally starts with a large project or objective and breaks it down into small, manageable tasks in the lower parts of the diagram. A WBS typically focuses on deliverables with concrete and measurable milestones. These deliverables can come in tasks, sub-tasks, terminal elements, and work packages. Since it is a deliverable approach, you will end up with a detailed plan of the assignments members must create to get the job done. The WBS also guides in estimating costs and resources, creating phased schedule tasks, and managing every phase.

Why use a work breakdown structure?

There are several reasons why a WBS is essential in project management. Below are some of them:
  • Estimates project costs
  • Assigns responsibilities and clarify every role of members involved in the project
  • Identifies risks
  • Tracks the progress of the project
  • Lays out the project timeline and creates a development out of the given timeframe
  • Writes statement of work
  • Establishes dependencies
The benefits, as mentioned above, are just general ideas of what you can maximize out of this comprehensive structure. Since it is a hierarchical decomposition of the whole project, it allows you to accomplish project objectives and create deliverables on a given schedule. It is a crucial tool for a service, product, data, or any combination of those projects. Besides breaking down significant deliverables into manageable tasks, a WBS also provides a place to begin a complete cost control and estimating, including scheduling.

How to create a work breakdown structure?

As complex as it may seem, you can create a work breakdown structure template with the three steps:
  • The first thing you need to understand is the goals and objectives of your project. This entails identifying what your company is trying to achieve with the project and fitting into the organization’s more significant goals.
  • To categorize and classify all deliverables for the project, you first need to gather all the major significant project deliverables. This is the second step of the process and comprises sub-category projects working towards the overall goal and objectives identified in the first step.
  • The final step will be breaking down all the high-level deliverables into smaller and more specific tasks. Each task is crucial as it will determine the success of the project. It has to be broken down into more specific categories for team members to address each deliverable clearly.

Tips for making a work breakdown structure

You can refer to the following rules to effectively create a WBS template:
  • The 100% rule. The work illustrated by your WBS must have 100% of the work needed to complete the overall project goal without the inclusion of unrelated work and deliverables. Also, the sub-tasks on any level must account for all the deliverables necessary to complete the higher-level task.
  • Focus on the outcome, not the action. For an effective WBS, a project manager or a team must focus on the results and deliverables instead of actions. To put it into context, when building a bicycle, the deliverable could be 'the braking system' while the action might be 'calibrate the brake pads.'
  • Mutually exclusive. Sub-tasks must not have any duplicates. Doing so will defeat the purpose of the 100% rule and will likely lead to miscalculations.
  • Three levels. The WBS must generally contain about three levels of detail. There could be branches of the WBS with more subcategories than the others, but if you see that most branches have three levels, the level of detail and the scope of the project in the WBS are just about right.
  • The 8/80 rule. This rule explains that the work package must take no less than eight hours of work effort, but not more than eighty. Some suggest the work package must not be more than ten days.
  • Create assignments. The purpose of a WBS is not only to classify deliverables but also to ensure that all the project members have assigned specific tasks. Work should not overlap, so functions will be precise.

Work Breakdown Structure Examples

WBS can be comprehensive with several kinds. Check out some of them below:

Work Breakdown Structure Example for Project Management

The example above shows a detailed WBS of a villa construction. As you can see, it is not the usual WBS classified in a hierarchy. Since this WBS is created in Excel, the project manager can clearly illustrate the names of the tasks on the leftmost part of the chart. It also shows the level of priority and the timeline for each task. And since it is a vast project, the creator included the percentage of completeness for every task. It typically looks complicated from afar; however, all the essential details are being laid out to ensure project success.

Work Breakdown Structure Example for Software Development

This is an example of a detailed WBS for software development. Those that belong to the higher-level deliverables are classified into five sections: specification, design, system implementation, testing, and project closeout. You can see that each of the main deliverables and sub-categories is differently colored. Providing colors and other shapes for the WBS will illustrate clarity and proper representation of every task.

Work Breakdown Structure Example for Construction

The above example is three-tier WBS with every level having numerical notations. For subcategories, you will add another decimal notation. Besides color classification in each group, you will notice that all the written deliverables in the boxes are nouns instead of activities. If you try to add up all the deliverables, you will get the first level in the WBS, also known as the 100% rule.

Work Breakdown Structure Example for an Event

This is rather a simplified approach to a work breakdown structure template for an event. As you can see above, it illustrates the deliverables a team must perform to hold a conference successfully. Every four main categories consist of subcategories. In reality, creators can provide more specifications on each subtask and assign them to specific team members. You can also use more colors on your diagram to establish the classification of assignments.

Other Use Cases of Breakdown Structure

When launching a product or a project, it's not only about the WBS that managers must consider. The breakdown structure in itself is vast that you can also classify them into five different categories, all of which perform distinct roles in project development.

Resource Breakdown Structure

A resource breakdown structure is a tool used by project managers to plan and control projects and businesses. There are several kinds of resources, and they can be very broad. It involves materials, equipment, and human resources. Even those who are part of the project are considered part of the resources; these human resources are those in charge of overseeing and executing the project's performance from start to finish.
To simply put it, an RBS comprises a list of vital resources to the project process. The list is then categorized and classified according to types and functions. To effectively present your list, you need to create an RBS template. Most managers use a hierarchical chart or diagram to organize resources and determine how each component relates. They need to be given priority since, without resources, a project cannot function properly and will yield project failure.

Risk Breakdown Structure

This is another RBS but not the resource kind. A risk breakdown structure is an essential tool in a project manager's kit when discussing risk management. You know how risks are everywhere, and without proper anticipation and preparation, these will cost the project's success. A risk breakdown structure is a hierarchical diagram that breaks down project risks from high-level categories to sub-level risks.
The role of this structure is to determine and evaluate risks so an organization can understand clearly and manage risks effectively. It is usually a documentation of all the potential dangers a project or a product might encounter, and the list is presented in an organized manner. The same with the concept of a WBS, the risk breakdown structure serves as a medium for a project and risk managers to develop risks that need to be addressed and monitored in the project development.
While some would find this process strange, it is the organizations that handle risks. They need to anticipate and create them to find solutions ready when it happens during the project's duration.

Organizational Breakdown Structure

Project managers call it OBS, a hierarchical model describing an established framework for resource management, project planning, cost allocation, revenue and profit reporting, and work management. It is the element you can expect when planning to launch a service or a product. The OBS presents task specifications and has to work well in coordination with a project workflow schedule. When you look at an OBS template, it generally shows the details of specific tasks of every team member to fulfill the objectives of the project. Since every task is classified and specified, there will be no duplicates, promoting order and efficiency throughout the project process.

Product Breakdown Structure

The PBS is another hierarchical structure of products and elements that a specific project must have to succeed or the results that an organization's project will deliver. To simply put it, it is like your shopping list. It is a blueprint that encompasses all the physical components of a specific product or system.
When you look at the PBS template, you will see that it starts with the end product at the highest part of the diagram, followed by the subcategories of the project or the product. On the lower levels of the chart, you will see that it decomposes the 'main project product' into different sub-levels and subcategories using a hierarchical structure. From the word itself, the nature of the PBS focuses mainly on the product, primarily composed of physical elements.

Cost Breakdown Structure

You can never proceed with launching a product or a project without considering the budget and other financial deliverables. Project managers generally use a cost breakdown structure, where the breakdown of various project costs is presented in a hierarchical illustration. It represents the costs of components in the WBS. A solid design of the CBS allows an easier understanding of how a project is tracking against a plan.
There must also be utmost consideration on CBS, so no element in the process is left out with any budget allocation and ensure that there are duplications on any of the categories and subcategories.

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