How to Improve Productivity with a Work Breakdown Structure?

Project managers who deal with complex projects confirm that the segmentation of tasks into smaller and more manageable portions makes the workflow much easier.

Here, we’d like to focus on an interesting procedure that can help to break down each step of your project and consider all tasks to achieve the result. This article is about a Work Breakdown Structure.

Here, we are going to describe the following:

And if you remember how to use Agile project management methodology, identify a critical path in your projects, and set SMART business goals, it’s time to get a new level of project management competence.

What is a Work Breakdown Structure in project management?

A Work Breakdown Structure WBS proposes a graphical nature that helps project managers predict results based on various scenarios. It is often described as a result-oriented tree that covers all project procedures in an organized way. However, WBS can also be displayed as a tabular list of tasks and elements in Work Breakdown structure Gantt Charts.

Managers use WBS to break down their projects into easily manageable components. It’s easy to do it using a Gantt Chart template. These components are further decomposed until a required person from the team can be assigned.

Work Breakdown Structure

5 reasons to create a Work Breakdown Structure:

  • It helps with the correct project organization.
  • It assists in describing the project scope to stakeholders.
  • It helps to distribute responsibilities.
  • It shows the project milestones and all the points to control.
  • It allows estimating costs, risks, and time correctly.

The example of a Work Breakdown Structure WBS

Let’s say, your task is to organize and manage a corporate outing or team building. Using WBS, you can describe and divide tasks as follows and get a Work Breakdown Structure for event planning:

  • Planning

Supervision, budget planning, approval and reconciliation, coordination issues.

  • Catering

Menu, shopping, cooking, serving.

  • Area and activities

Area tables and chairs, utensils, decorations, and equipment.

  • Participants/guests

Invitations, guest list, RSPVs, special needs.

  • Staff

Drivers, cooks, servers, hosts, cleanup.

  • Entertainer

Invitation, logistic issues, playlist coordination.

Remember that it is much easier to plan and manage events with the help of event planning templates and special event management software.

Here is one more simple Work Breakdown Structure example:

Work Breakdown Structure example

What is a WBS element?

According to the hierarchical nature of a breakdown procedure, there are specific levels that must be applied to make your projects easier to manage.

A real breakdown system should contain each of the following components (or elements):

  • A project vision statement.
  • Project phases dependent on the project size.
  • Tasks with deliverables.

These components may have different names, depending on the company.

5 steps to develop a simple Work Breakdown Structure

To achieve the project purposes properly, you need to follow a specific way of executing a breakdown system.

Start with the project vision and statement at the top of the hierarchy. Outline all necessary tasks that will comprise the deliverables.

Actually, the planning process together with the vision defining and outlining the deliverables should involve the whole team’s efforts. However, every person is responsible for the specific execution of every task.

1. Determine and describe the project statement

It can be just a sentence or paragraph that will describe the project vision and functions in the final stage. This breakdown structure phase is the basement of any project and it is usually developed by the whole team.

2. Highlight all necessary phases

After the first step is completed, it’s time to fulfill the phases.

Maybe, you will have to divide the scope into multiple phases depending on the nature of your project. Usually, it depends on the project requirements, budget opportunities, and time frames.

Work Breakdown Structure in project management

3. Create deliverables (end-results)

Outline all deliverables that must be completed within every phase. Your phases should have end-results. You need to achieve them before moving on to the next phase. Each deliverable should also have its statement describing goals and functions.

4. Divide deliverables into manageable tasks

After creating the deliverables statements, it’s time to add another level of the hierarchy to count details. The tasks of the project should be designed as sections. One team member or a small team will be able to easily manage them.

5. Assign every section

The assignment of each manageable part is the last stage of the hierarchy. A required team member will be responsible for a specific task. They will be involved in each section of work that will lead to the corresponding results.

GanttPRO is online Gantt chart software that helps create visually appealing Work Breakdown Structure. With the tool, you will easily determine project statement, divide the scope, outline deliverables with manageable tasks that can be assigned in no time.

Try GanttPRO for free!

Why use a Work Breakdown Structure?

Working with WBS, you will find many essential advantages. The important point is that a project budget can be allocated to the top stages of the breakdown system.

You can develop a budget and schedule by allocating costs and time estimation to specific sections of the Work Breakdown Structure.

Here are just some benefits of using a WBS:

  • It shows all the work needed for project accomplishment.
  • It visualizes each member’s activity and their role in the whole project.
  • It helps communicate and collaborate on tasks.
  • It helps avoid changes and risks such as missed deadlines, scope creep, etc.
  • It contributes to cost estimation, resource allocation, and time management improvements.

Let’s define more advantages of WBS.

10 benefits of Work Breakdown Structure WBS for project managers

WBS has become popular and widely used in software development because of its benefits which project managers can apply.

1. The increase in communication

It does not matter whether your project has an internal or external direction. A Work Breakdown Structure includes communication acts on every step.

2. A field for creativity

It sounds like a stereotype but people think that software development is only an analytical area. You have wide opportunities to develop your creative skills. While defining the project vision, the team members may use WBS to offer creative steps for project development.

3. Focus on end-goals

WBS helps to keep all team members focused on the end-goal. It minimizes the chance that unnecessary work is performed because the scope has been clearly defined.

4. Details organization

Every detail is carefully accounted, that is why nothing gets lost in the project.

5. Possible problems prevention

When the project is ready, some extra problems can occur. A Work Breakdown Structure helps to cut them by taking into consideration all the details of the tasks before execution.

6. Brainstorming

Managers use the structure for brainstorming to find useful ideas and solutions. It’s easy to list all thoughts and ideas and then scratch out the unnecessary ones. 

7. Scheduling issues

With WBS, it becomes easy to identify which of the deliverables are falling behind your schedule. If some issues fall behind, it becomes obvious where changes need to be implemented.

8. Risk management

If you use WBS, you mitigate and manage risks from the beginning. It anticipates all requirements and allocates resources: money, time, and labor.

9. Tasks allocation

When you broke down your project into manageable tasks, it becomes easier to assign these tasks to required people.

10. Flexibility for different teams

The Work Breakdown Structure WBS is used in different environments and fields. It does not matter how large the team is. The WBS Structure will always support project execution.

It also may be a great tool for customer engagement. It shows them the internal atmosphere and helps to understand the processes better.

Who can use WBS?

Usually, managers use the structure in commercial, residential, and construction projects. It gives investors and customers a better understanding of everything that goes into the project development.

However, the scope of its application is really wide.

Who can use Work Breakdown Structure WBS

Software development, for example, is performed by taking a vision and creates it based on a list of requirements. It imparts WBS the features of the ideal tool for software development.

If we try to classify the teams who may use WBS tools, we can get the following list:

  • Creative teams

Creative people appreciate this breakdown system because it allows them to brainstorm together.

  • Technical teams

Technically focused team members like WBS for its keeping an analytical perspective of project scope of work and its progression.

  • Teams that work directly with customers

The WBS structure is really good for specialists who develop software for clients because it meets their needs. It also helps increase customer confidence in your team.

  • Internal projects teams
  • Remote teams

For example, in GanttPRO Gantt chart tool, you can create as many projects as you need with unlimited number of tasks.

Moreover, each task can consist of subtasks making a group of tasks out of it. Therefore, you can create a visual Gantt chart timeline that shows a WBS of your project. By the way, you can compare a Gantt chart vs. WBS.

Work Breakdown Structure in GanttPRO online Gantt chart software

With GanttPRO, you can:

  • Create an ideal WBS.
  • Assign tasks.
  • Manage resources and team members.
  • Collaborate with project participants.
  • Track and log time.
  • And do many other actions!
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Hue Vandrunen
Hue Vandrunen
May 10, 2019 1:28 pm

Is it really helpful to determine and describe the overall statement of the concerned project? And, is it possible to handle this phase all alone without the help of the entire team as I don’t have a developed team till now.

GanttPRO Team
GanttPRO Team
May 14, 2019 9:30 am
Reply to  Hue Vandrunen

Thank you for the question, Hue!
Breaking down your project from the very first steps will help you keep everything under control. Work Breakdown Structure significantly simplifies project management processes.
What concerns the second question: yes, sure, you can schedule your plan just by yourself, without a team. For this, try GanttPRO and find out how easy it is to make WBS in our online Gantt chart software

Pavel Baykovskiy
Pavel Baykovskiy
May 14, 2019 8:15 am

Well, the 10 benefits mentioned about in this article has really helped me a lot. It has improved the framework of communication in my business organization. Not only that, but it has also helped me in creating an environment where all my team members can easily develop their creative skills.

Noel Henry
Noel Henry
May 27, 2019 8:32 am

This post has really helped me a lot. The use of Gantt Charts made my business works much simpler and especially the job of WBS . I run an IT company and Gantt Charts really helps me now in planning my future endeavors for the company.

Cecil Romero
Cecil Romero
June 17, 2019 12:16 pm

Is it really helpful to use WBS for my business projects? The advantages are not really clear to me and I will be really obliged if I can get more information regarding breakdown structure for my business and team management.

Sheryl Fernandez
Sheryl Fernandez
June 20, 2019 8:07 am

It has been mentioned that highlighting the necessary phases for a project is an important part of Work Breakdown Structure. But, is budgeting also a part of it? If yes then how can I incorporate it in the breakdown structure for my projects?

Janice Fleming
Janice Fleming
July 10, 2019 8:44 am

With the help of WBS, I am now able to schedule each and every task for my business along with a proper estimate of every task. It has also helped me in assigning to team member specific tasks which is also giving out incredible results.

Marguerite Holloway
Marguerite Holloway
July 16, 2019 7:35 am

What an incredible post this was! It was really very tough for me to jot down the important and exclusive ideas from the pile of new ideas. With WBS, I am now able to easily list the ideas and then pick up the useful ones as required.

Angelina Burgess
Angelina Burgess
August 12, 2019 7:31 am

I am really thankful to Gantt Charts for helping in creating a proper format for all my business-related tasks. WBS now functions as an important element for my business and now I can also schedule each and every issue.

Benjamin Perez
Benjamin Perez
August 26, 2019 2:16 pm

Is it possible to apply WBS for teams of any size? I have a really small team as I just started with a new business and so, is it possible to support the execution of projects with the help of WBS?

Maria Chan
Maria Chan
December 3, 2021 10:56 am

As an SEO Specialist, I find work-breakdown structure a systematic approach into outlining a project to smaller variables. This article did not disappoint.

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