Just about anyone working on projects or using online project management tools knows the term WBS.

If it’s new to you, WBS is an acronym for Work Breakdown Structure. The definition of a WBS is a hierarchical task list created by deconstructing the project based on the breakdown of the product into components and the breakdown of the project process into increasingly detailed tasks. The WBS is depicted as a tree diagram (or hierarchy chart) or as a list in outline form with detailed items subordinated to higher-level items. Huh?

More simply, a Work Breakdown Structure describes all the work that has to be done – called work packages – in order to create the product or service. It is designed to help break down a project into bites that can be effectively estimated and managed.

You know you’ve got a good WBS if:

  •  The WBS reflects the scope and deliverables of the project (expressed as nouns & adjectives)
  • The WBS clarifies scope for any team member or stakeholders
  • The work packages in the WBS enables the definition of tasks to complete the work
  • Team members who will perform the work were involved in creating the WBS
  • The WBS is continuously updated accordingly as part of change management
  • The WBS has all the internal, external and interim deliverables needed to complete the project

For the adminaphobes out there, the idea of managing a WBS can seem like a punishment, but it’s worth the effort. With a good WBS you’ll be less likely to miss important tasks and you’ll actually be able to measure progress on your project!

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