Work Breakdown Structure in Project Management

Work Breakdown Structure in Project Management

A Project Manager's Guide To Work Breakdown Structure

A Work Breakdown Structure in project management is a stratified order of the tasks to complete a project.

A project management tool with a visual, hierarchical, and deliverable-oriented deconstruction of a project that breaks the work into a structure.

It is the principle to articulate the scope of our projects in a highly structured manner.  The purpose is to create a work breakdown, identify it, and set a vision of the project.

At its simplest, we take the entire work project of the structure and the scope is meeting deliverables.

So, a lot of time there are questions on WBS, and people can’t find out the difference between a WBS tool and the way it processes it in a project. Let’s clarify what is a work breakdown structure.

What Is a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)?

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is the tool for a hierarchical listing of tasks and deliverables that organize the overall project goals and scope. The lists at the lowest level must be conveyable and quantifiable.

A project manager uses this common productivity technique to identify, scope, cost, and schedule baselines, so that project plans are meeting deliverables. Simply put, it is an advanced view of the total project.

This tool splits the project structure into smaller tasks to make the work a manageable deliverable. To meet the project goals or needs, the deliverables are assigned tasks to be able to further break down into subtasks.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) in the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide defines the Work Breakdown Structure as a “deliverable oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team.”

Work break down structure 1

Suggested Read: Best Agile Tools For Project Managers In 2022

Types of Work Breakdown Structure

There are two types of WBS:

1) Deliverable-Based WBS

2) Phase-Based WBS

Deliverable-Based is the most common and preferable approach. The elements identified in the first level of WBS make the differences between the two WBS types.

These approaches rely upon the time or scope of your project segregation.

PMP certification

Deliverable-Based Work Breakdown Structure

A deliverable-oriented WBS (also known as product-oriented WBS) divides major parts of the project scope as control accounts into work packages or subtasks and manageable deliverables.

Deliverables (products, services, or results) are substantial elements that are essential to fulfill to achieve the project.

Here’s an example of a WBS in a deliverable based on the given figure below for a project.

Work break down structure 2

Phase-Based Work Breakdown Structure

A Phase-Based WBS is similar to a deliverable phased WBS but more organized by phases in a process rather than deliverables.

It put in view the final deliverable on the top (highest level) of the hierarchy of the work breakdown structure with the WBS levels below showing the five elements (initiation, planning, execution, control, and closeout) of a project. Each element is a typical phase of a project.

Likewise, as deliverable-based WBS, the project phases are broken into work packages and project deliverables. 

The below figure is an example of a phase-based WBS sample for the same project.

Work break down structure 3

How to Create a Work Breakdown Structure?

Here is the vital process to how to create a work breakdown structure:

- Utilize a WBS template.

-  Study the work activities in the project

- Document the WBS

- Identify all major objectives and deliverables

- Break main deliverables into sub-products

- Break sub-products into tasks

- Set the structure for project management

- Identify support activities

- Assign unique identifiers to elements

- Organize a planning workshop

- Create WBS Dictionary and Glossary

- Create a Gantt Chart schedule

- Associate the WBS

- Consolidate the WBS into the project plan

Check out this list of the latest project management software to use in 2022

Goals of WBS

The goals of creating a WBS include:

- Identify potential scope risks

- Define the overall project scope

- Identify communication points

- Estimates project costs

- Helps in resource allocation

- Clarity to risky work efforts

- Clarity to vital work efforts

- Correlation between activities and deliverables

- Team engagement and collaboration

Advantages of Work Breakdown Structure:

There are various work break down structure benefits as it is,

- Define, organize, and manage the project.

- Boosts project efficiency.

- Optimized project scheduling.

- Project Execution.

- Control of project vision and potential risks.

- Engagement.

- Accountability.

- Estimate and control resources.

- Estimate budget and time.

- Set project milestones.

PMP certification

Conclusion

There are frequent pitfalls to building a WBS. Despite that, WBS defines and shapes the work at its best. Stakeholders get better insights into the project.  Each product has potential risks. It's apt to identify potential risks.

The definition of work breakdown structure is that it provides a necessary framework with accurate and readable project organization. It lays out the total project in advance. Plus, the costs, budgets, and schedules can be established by the project managers with referring examples of work breakdown structure.

Sprintzeal is one such platform that is a reputed source for certification. Check out the courses on PMP certification and accelerate your career today!

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is a work break down structure in simple terms?

A WBS for project management is a tool to define, organize, and manage to achieve the project.

It helps to estimate the costs, time, and resources and improves the efficiency of the project.

2) What is a WBS example?

Let’s consider building a work breakdown structure of a building house, a  resource has to include products such as “building materials” (a deliverable), not “making slurry” (an activity).

3) What is the purpose of a work breakdown structure?

The ultimate purpose of WBS is to put on organized data to assign the activities required to perform on the project.

WBS not only facilitates but improves resource decisions, identifies activities, and facilitates milestones to improve trades. It does not direct possessions.

4) What are the 3 levels of WBS?

At the simplest, it comprises 3 levels. It characterizes the project's main deliverables, control accounts, project deliverables, and work packages.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Nchumbeni Felic

Nchumbeni Felic

Nchumbeni is a content writer who creates easy-to-read educational blogs, articles, varying client request, and social media content helping millions of learners meet their career goals.

Trending Now


What is pass percentage for the CAPM exam?

Article

Is it worth getting the CAPM certification?

Article

Is PMP better than MBA?

Article

Issue Log in Project Management - Uses and Importance

Article

Supply Chain Response And The Factors Involved In It

Article

Best Agile tools for Project Managers in 2024

Article

PMI-PMP® Exam Changes Explained in 5 Minutes

ebook

Project Initiation Phase - Importance and Roles Involved

Article

Delphi Technique and Its Role in Project Management

Article

PMBOK Guide and Project Management Certification Updates 2024

Article

How to Use Google Calendar as a Project Management Tool

Article

10 Reasons Why You Should Get PRINCE2 Certification

Article

CAPM Cheat Sheet 2024

Article

CAPM Certification Study Guide

Article

CAPM Certification Exam Preparation Guide 2024

Article

Top Benefits of CAPM Certifications

Article

Guide to Advancing Project Management Career with PMP Certification

Article

PMP Vs PRINCE2 - Which Project Management Certification is Better?

ebook

Project Management Interview Questions and Answers for Managers

Article

Project Management Software to Use in 2024

ebook

Best project management certifications in 2024

Article

Project Feasibility Study in Seven Steps

Article

CAPM vs PMP – Which Project Management Certification Is Better?

Article

Project Scope Management Guide 2024

Article

Project Management Complete Guide 2024

Article

CAPM Exam – Difficulty, Details and Preparation Tips

Article

What is Project Management?

Article

What is PMI ACP certification?

Article

Is PMP exam difficult?

Article

Is PMI ACP worth it?

Article

PMP or CAPM – which is better?

Article

PMP or PMI ACP – which certification should you get?

Article

PMP Certification Cost Details

Article

How to get PMP certification - Guide 2024

Article

How to create an effective project plan

Article

Top Project Manager Interview Questions and Answers 2024

Article

Guide to Change Management for Organizational Transformation

Article

Resource Manager Interview Questions and Answers 2024

Article

Project Schedule Management Guide for Beginners

ebook

Top Project Manager Qualifications and Career Path in 2024

Article

Network Diagram - Types, Topology and Use in Project Management

Article

Project Management Life Cycle and Its Phases

Article

Guide to Project Management Processes, Methodologies and Lifecycles

Article

Process Capability Analysis Explained

Article

Financial Risk and Its Types

Article

Construction Project Management - Roles, Stages and Benefits

Article

Risk Management Strategies in Project Management

Article

Project Management Principles - 12 Essentials

Article

Project Management Framework Guide

Article

Strategic Management Guide 2024

Article

Project Management Books List - Best of 2024

Article

Project Documentation and Its Importance

ebook

Project Management Tips - Best of 2024

Article

Project Management Apps Best of 2024

Article

Digital Project Manager – Skills, Salary, and Scope

Article

Project Communication Plan – How to Create and Use

Article

Earned Value Management and Its Significance

Article

Planning Poker Estimation Technique

Article

Project Management vs Product Management

Article

Project Crashing in Project Management

Article

Project Controlling and its Importance in Project Management

Article

How to create a work breakdown structure

ebook

Project Report and its Significance in Project Management

Article

Project Budget: Definition, Overview & How to Create One

ebook

Estimate at Completion - Formulae and Calculations

Article

Project Cost Management Guide 2024

Article

Product Lifecycle Management

Article

Project Portfolio Management Guide

Article

Program Manager vs Project Manager - Comparison of Roles and Careers

Article

WBS Dictionary - A Beginner's Guide

Article

Stakeholder Analysis and Stakeholder Management Guide

Article

Project Management Phases Explained

Article

Project Management Knowledge Areas

ebook

Leadership Theories for Managers

ebook

PMP Pass Rate in 2024 - Guide to Clear the PMP Exam

ebook

Gantt Charts - The Ultimate Guide

ebook

Conflict Resolution in Project Management

ebook

Project Deliverables in Project Management

ebook

PERT vs CPM in Project Management

ebook

Top Gantt Chart Makers in 2024

ebook

Gantt Chart Tools - Best of 2024

ebook

Negotiation in Project Management: The Utimate Guide

ebook

Project Manager Resume Guide – Best Tips and Examples

ebook

Product Management Frameworks - The Ultimate Guide 2024

ebook

Product Planning - A Beginner's Guide

ebook

What is Product Management? - A Beginner's Guide

ebook

Guide to Project Stakeholder Management

ebook

PMP® Certification Salary: Job and Salary Scope in 2024

ebook

Top Project Engineer Skills

ebook

Guide to Technical Project Management

ebook

Top 10 project management competencies

ebook

Time Management in Project Management - Steps to Implement it

ebook

Top Program Manager Skills of Successful Program Managers

ebook

A Brief Guide to Conflict Management Approaches

ebook

What is a Risk Management Plan? A Comprehensive Guide

ebook

Workflow Diagram - Steps to Create, Symbols, Types, and Uses

ebook

Best Practices to Measure Resource Utilization

ebook

Workload Management: How to Optimize Your Team’s Workload?

ebook

What is Project Execution? A Comprehensive Guide

ebook

Project vs Program Management: Key Differences

ebook

Kanban Methodology in Project Management – A Complete Guide

ebook

Hybrid Project Management Guide 2024

ebook

Project Characteristics: Key Elements in a Project

ebook

The Ultimate Guide to the Waterfall Methodology in Project Management

ebook

The Ultimate Project Kickoff Meeting Guide

ebook

Project Timeline: How to Build One, Definitions, and Examples

ebook

Project Scope Statement: How to Write One With Example

ebook

Statement of Work in Project Management Guide 2024

ebook

Project Management in Product Development : Essential Role

ebook

10 Best Change Management Tools to Use

ebook

Mastering Resource Scheduling to Unlock Project Success

ebook

Project Risk Analysis: Tools, Templates & Best Practices

ebook

How to Write a Project Summary in 4 Steps

ebook

Top Leadership Skills: Mastering the Art of Effective Leadership

ebook

How to Write a Project Descriptions: A Step-by-Step Guide

ebook

What is Project Monitoring? A Comprehensive Guide

ebook

What Are Project Fundamentals? A Quick Guide

ebook

Kanban Board: A Detailed Guide to Understanding and Usage

ebook

10 Effective Management Styles for Leaders (With Real-Life Examples)

ebook

Product Manager Career Path: What to Expect

Article

Career Path for Program Manager - Strategic Navigation for Professional Growth

ebook

Exploring Career Path for Product Owner

Article

An Ultimate Guide to Project Coordinator Career Paths

Article

Trending Posts

Project Manager Resume Guide – Best Tips and Examples

Project Manager Resume Guide – Best Tips and Examples

Last updated on Oct 14 2022

Top Leadership Skills: Mastering the Art of Effective Leadership

Top Leadership Skills: Mastering the Art of Effective Leadership

Last updated on Jan 24 2024

Product Management Frameworks - The Ultimate Guide 2024

Product Management Frameworks - The Ultimate Guide 2024

Last updated on Oct 25 2022

Is PMP exam difficult?

Is PMP exam difficult?

Last updated on Jul 8 2022

Project Cost Management Guide 2024

Project Cost Management Guide 2024

Last updated on Aug 8 2022

What is Project Management?

What is Project Management?

Last updated on Jul 7 2023