Articles - Creating a Workbreakdown Structure WBS

By Manjeet Singh (based on excerpts from the free ProjectMind's quick guide to project management)

The WBS is an effective tool that helps you list all the tasks involved in your project. The WBS also allows you to group all the tasks under main activities ensuring that you have a clear overview of what you need to execute during the project. You typically start working on the WBS in the beginning of the project planning process. A WBS is the prelude to network diagrams, which allow you to show the dependencies between the different tasks that you identified thanks to the WBS.

A good way of developing your project’s WBS is by using the major milestones/deliverables that you identified in your Statement of Work (SOW). Once the milestones have been identified, brainstorm with your project team to detail the tasks that you must accomplish in order to achieve the milestones. If you and your team are familiar with the project, a milestone approach will work very well. If this is not the case, then consider including in your workshops someone who may not be on your project team but has previously completed a similar project.

Here is a simplified WBS for the design of a website:


For more complex projects with a higher level of detail, you can choose the following format for your WBS:

1.0 Website Project
2.0 Design
      2.1 Select layout
      2.2 Design graphics
      2.3 Approve design
3.0 Content
      3.1 Select contributors
      3.2 Write contents
      3.3 Approve contents
      3.4 Insert content into pages
4.0 Development
      4.1 Setup website on test environment
      4.2 Perform tests
      4.3 Approve tests
      4.4 Setup website on live environment

TIP: Careful with the level of detail in your WBS – 3 levels is good; 5 the limit, and 7 becomes unwieldy (there are of course many exceptions to this rule).

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