Best Practices: Creating a WBS for Success

Written on . By CPM Solutions

Projects can be overwhelming; no matter their size, the task of completing a project is daunting. That is why a Work Breakdown Structure  (WBS) can be used to break down a project into manageable sections and help the project flow through execution to success. Creating a WBS requires project managers to strategically decide how they will lay out their deliverables, or work packages, in order to fulfill the project scope.

Here are a few tips on how to create a WBS for success:

  1. A WBS is NOT a “To-Do” list! Far too often project managers run into failing projects because they use their WBS as a long “to-do” list. Utilize the WBS as a framework for your project, breaking down big pieces of the pie into small ones that are visually easier to understand for everyone.
  2. Remember that a WBS element is a noun! Repeat after me: “A WBS is a noun; an Activity is a verb.” Remember that! A WBS is meant to be the final deliverable of that particular section, whereas the activities included in the WBS are the actions that are performed to create that final deliverable. A WBS element is never the lowest level of the hierarchy; the WBS groups the lowest levels, i.e. activities.
  3. Don’t break down the WBS elements too much! Try to keep the WBS elements within 5 to 10 elements per heading. Once you start getting too detailed, you lose the point of using the WBS as a framework for your project deliverables.
  4. Organize the WBS that works for you and your project! Don’t get stuck trying to organize a project in a particular way because it always “seemed” to work before. There are different ways that you can organize your WBS including phase, function, system, or more.
  5. Assign resources! Keep your crew accountable for the tasks at hand by assigning them as the WBS responsible manager.

When the OBS is used strategically, it can help to make your project flow more efficiently and keep your project on track to reach your goals.