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Work Breakdown Structure

WBS Chart

The structure of all the work and the main process of a project should be defined at the start of the project management cycle. There has to be a clear structure that will focus on the important decision points in the project process. This should result in a clear Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

To achieve a clear and common known process, at first, you should build your project around the most significant phases. This way the project process is recognizable for everyone involved. After that you can work on a wbs structure (wbs stands for Work Breakdown Structure).

A work breakdown structure stands at the base of a project and the plans. Making a good and complete WBS, you should use the help and view of important team members. An example of a wbs is given below.

Project phases

The phasing of a project can be a little different depending on the type of project you face. You can define the phases with different names but basic project management phasing is mainly set up like this:

  • Initiation phase – the main product should be a clear project definition.
  • Definition phase – the main product should be the project plan.
  • Design phase – the main product should be the design of your project result.
  • Preparation phase – the main products is a execution plan, licenses and all needed to start executing the plans.
  • Executing phase – the main product is off course the final result.
  • Closing phase – the main product is the closing and evaluation of the project.

Sometimes people speak of a monitor and control phase, but the work of monitoring and controlling your project is what project management is all about; in fact this happens within all the phases named above.

WBS, structure and phasing

When you make a start with your project plan, you have to start writing down all the the areas and activities you need to focus on to get the results you want. A work breakdown structure, or WBS, is a model that can be used for this purpose. In this model you divide the workload in the named phases and appoint the needed area’s, tasks and activities under thes phases. When you do this, with your project team, you can even use the complete outcome of these activities as the base of your RACI-chart, discussed on our TEAM page, and as a subject in your PROJECT PLAN.

Here is an example of a basic WBS (Work Breakdown Structure):

work breakdown structure

This wbs example should give you an idea of how you can set up your basic wbs.

The activities must be filled with the things that need to be done to get to the tasks above and the final project result that you and your project team are aiming for.