The Importance of the Work Breakdown Structure

If you want to do your job well, you may want to think about some strategies. A work breakdown structure (WBS) is one way to get good results. Splitting your tasks into smaller portions is a way to be well organised and to have a clear overview of the things that need to get done. I consider this tool fundamental for team communication and a right approach to controlling Quality and Costs.

Work breakdown structure is an important tool for the project management. Imagine a project where everyone is doing the work, but there is no coordination. This leads to an unbalanced budget and bad results. Considering the importance of this process, the responsibility of carrying it out should be divided between everyone in the team; every team member should contribute to creating the final picture.

WBS is mainly focused on deliverables. In short, it is a to-do list from which we generate a list of tasks and their dependencies. This is why it’s fundamental that all the actors of the project get involved in its creation.

By identifying the key deliverables, you can estimate time and costs needed for the project to get done and how many people you need on your team. You will know how to split up the work between your team and what are the qualities they need to possess to complete the work. In every phase of the work, you will have a clear overview of the progress.

This structure can keep your focus on the budget because you will always have control over costs at every stage of the work. Challenging, but it can be a good way to make sure you’re on a budget during the work process. Imagine a big tree with branches that are spreading and supporting each other. With that kind of support, WBS will give you good results.

Need for this type of structure is increasing because project planning demands a good organisation and control of the work that is being done and ensuring that every part of the job is done (double-checking is not a waste of time). Planners can track the project along and set the pace for the next stages.

The downside to WBS is that developing this type of structure is not easy because it can take time and knowledge. A good approach is to start with high-level deliverables to be able to assemble the right team. Once this is done, it falls to the experts to define the in-between steps to achieve the deliverables. In short, they will break down the activities to the simplest tasks, and establish their dependence.

For example, if we have to do A, B, C and D, we may have a dependency between A and B, but not A, C and D. It means that we won’t have to wait to finish A to do C and D.

As you can see, a well-done breakdown structure will give you an activity plan, as well as resource involvement and cost distribution.

Another important aspect of the WBS is that it simplifies the communication outside the project team. From the project management point of view, WBS does not bring many benefits if compared to a Gantt. A Gantt is often considered too complex for the board and high-level communication. Most people will not be able to understand each task, but they will still recognise the high-level deliverables and get an idea of the work behind it.

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