What is Work Break Down Structure (WBS) ?

Dividing complex projects to simpler and manageable tasks is the process identified as Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
Usually, the project managers use this method for simplifying the project execution. In WBS, much larger tasks are broken down to manageable chunks of work. These chunks can be easily supervised and estimated.
Following example is an outlined WBS:
Outlined WBS
There are many design goals for WBS. Some important goals are as follows:
  • Giving visibility to important work efforts.
  • Giving visibility to risky work efforts.
  • Illustrate the correlation between the activities and deliverables.
  • Show clear ownership by task leaders.

WBS Structure:

In a WBS diagram, the project scope is graphically expressed. Usually the diagram starts with a graphic object or a box at the top, which represents the entire project. Then, there are sub-components under the box.
These boxes represent the deliverables of the project. Under each deliverable, there are sub-elements listed. These sub-elements are the activities that should be performed in order to achieve the deliverables.
Although most of the WBS diagrams are designed based on the deliveries, some WBS are created based on the project phases. Usually, information technology projects are perfectly fit into WBS model.
Therefore, almost all information technology projects make use of WBS.
In addition to the general use of WBS, there is specific objective for deriving a WBS as well. WBS is the input for Gantt charts, a tool that is used for project management purpose.
Gantt chart is used for tracking the progression of the tasks derived by WBS.
Following is a sample WBS diagram:
WBS diagram



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