Short Note on Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is actually tool or key project deliverable that organizes team’s work into simpler and manageable section or task. These are simply deliverable hierarchical decomposition of work that is needed to be executed by project team.

The project team usually creates WBS simply by identifying most important functional deliverables and also subdividing all these variables into smaller systems and sub-deliverables. WBS development is generally based and dependent upon style of project management, organizational culture, customer preference, financial constraints, and various other parameters that are specific for project and hard to define. Larger tasks are divided and broken down into manageable chunks of work in WBS. There are generally two types of WBS i.e. Deliverable-Based approach and Phase-Based approach. It simply provides various information structures. Some of these information structures are given below:

  • A simple and clear task decomposition for assignment of various responsibilities
  • An essential supporting structure for scheduling, budgeting, and expenditure tracking
  • Description of all essential and significant work

Conventional WBS issues :
Conventional work breakdown structures are generally prematurely decomposed or structured, planned, and budgeted in either too little or too much more detail description around product design. The conventional WBS usually suffer from three main flaws:

  1. Premature structured or decomposition around product design –
    In the diagram given below, you will see that conventional WBS firstly has been decomposed or structured primarily into subsystems of all of its product architecture. Then, they further get decomposed into components of each and every subsystem. After all this, solid, strong, realistic, and essential planning foundation is generally set which is very hard and very costly to exchange.
  2. Premature decomposition, planned, and budgeted in either too less or too much more detail description –
    In the above diagram, WBS shown is very simple and easy for large-scale systems. In these, six and more levels of WBS are at place that is common. Whereas, in small-scale or in-house developments, WBS is elaborated to single level only even with no supporting detail. But in general, WBS is simply elaborated and explained to at least two or three levels. We can say that large-scale developments are generally over planned and small-scale developments are generally under planned.
  3. Difficult or impossible comparison of project-specific and cross-project –
    Some of organizations are simply allowed and given permission to elaborate their project structure according to style of project managers, demands or requirements of customers, etc. If there will be no WBS structure, it will be very difficult and hard to compare plans, financial data, schedule data, organizational data, many more things.

Evolutionary Work Breakdown Structures :
Evolutionary Work Breakdown Structures simply organizes all planning elements around process framework and not of product framework. WBS should organize hierarchy in following ways:

  • Elements like workflows which include management, environment, requirements, design, implementation, assessment, and deployment should be described at first-level WBS.
  • Elements for different levels of lifecycle such as inception, elaboration, construction, and transition should be defined at second-level WBS.
  • Elements for activities that develop artifacts of various phases should be defined at third-level WBS.

The WBS simply structure features of project and maps it to life-cycle, budget, and personnel. WBS and relative budgets that are allocated among elements simply gives essential indicators that are meaningful for management approach, priorities, and concerns. Using WBS, it is very easy to design, organize, and manage project. It also helps to estimates resources that are essential such as cost, time, staff, etc. and improves efficiency of project.

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