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Importance of building a work breakdown structure


Creating the work breakdown structure (WBS) for a project is one of the most essential tasks in project management. Whichever project management standard is followed, they all contain the work breakdown structure as a central tool. This will form the basis for the detailed planning of your project and, therefore, plays a key role in a concrete and concise preparation of it. 

But, how can the WBS of a project be better structured? When is the best time to create it? Read on to find out everything you need to know about work breakdown structures, including how to use them and how to create an effective WBS.

What is a work breakdown structure?

The Work Breakdown Structure is a powerful tool if we use it properly. It is the cornerstone of the entire project and represents the first step in achieving a common understanding of what the project includes as well as in creating the schedule. The WBS is used to display all the work, understand the project work, and give you an idea of its dimensions and the implications of carrying it out.

While most project management tools focus on planned actions, WBS focuses on expected results. A carefully organized WBS can help the project manager more efficiently oversee the completion of complicated tasks within a project. 

Benefits of creating WBS

Preparing a work breakdown structure is a convention that has several practical benefits:

Clarity about the tasks: The larger a project, the more difficult it is to get an overview to know what tasks need to be done, and whatnot. The work steps are related to WBS for a project that reduces complexity by breaking down the entire project into small sub-steps and visually preparing it for easy understanding.

Greater efficiency: Clarity of project scope is, in turn, a prerequisite for efficient implementation. The work breakdown structure not only ensures that all necessary steps are performed, but that scheduling can also be done in real-time.

Guidance role: During the project, the WBS provides each participant with an overview of where the project is currently and where the various activities are integrated.

The basis for communication: Each project requires numerous votes among the different project partners. Here, a compact but comprehensive presentation like the work breakdown structure can be necessary for communication. This creates transparency, avoids misunderstandings, and promotes efficient discussions.

The basis for further planning: Last but not least, the work breakdown structure is the prerequisite for recognizing if more detailed plans are required. And, this reduces the risk of cost explosion and unplanned overhead.

Tips to create a work breakdown structure

Top-down approach 

The top-down approach divides the overall project in each sub once more specific, which in turn is divided into work units. It is particularly useful if you know the content of the project or if you have already gained experience with similar projects.

Bottom-up approach 

The bottom-up approach takes a reverse planning direction and starts at the lowest level. Here you collect all the tasks you can imagine and then group them into work packages and then organize them into sub-projects. It is especially useful if it is your first time working in a new field.

Yo-yo focus 

The yo-yo approach is a combination of the two previous techniques. As you do this, you proceed in alternating steps: first, you list all the tasks, then you write down the sub-projects and assign the corresponding tasks. You then collect more to-dos. In this way, you can work in both directions and enjoy the advantages of both methods. Of course, you must make sure that no element is repeated and that you do not forget any.b-projects. It is especially useful if it is your first time working in a new field.

To conclude, WBSs are interesting structures that serve as the backbone for creating a schedule. There are many other techniques, but these three will give you a great base to start.