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Project Management>Work Breakdown Structure

The project work breakdown structure (WBS) is a key document in the project.  It forms the basis of much of the planning, setting budgets, financial control, defining the organisation and assigning responsibilities.

Breaking the project work into manageable units is key to controlling the project.  Viewing the project, as a whole can be overwhelming, therefore, breaking the project into small chucks makes it more appealing. It is also possible to identify and delegate work to other members of the project team.


Each level of the work breakdown structure (WBS) is often called a task.   How many levels you have will vary by project, generally the bigger the project the more levels. Up to about 5 is fine.  If you have more than this, you should think about initiating sub-projects to deal with legs of the WBS  Anything over 10 levels and the project scope is probably flawed and needs rechecking.

At the higher level (top) appears the phases of the project (usually the phases in the project plan). Beneath this are all the tasks that have to be performed to complete each phase.

The following is an example of a work breakdown structure:



The WBS is for the publication of a series. The editor has produced a project plan and the key phases are shown on the WBS in grey.  Below these phases are the tasks that need to be done to complete each phase.  

By creating the units of work, it now becomes possible for example, to delegate lower level tasks to individual workers and the higher level tasks to their managers and so on.

It is a very useful tool and can help the Project Manager manage and control the project effectively.

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See also


Go to Analysis Knowledge Base
Go to Process Change Knowledge Base

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Analysis Techniques
Project Management
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