Create Work Breakdown Structure Process

Posted on February 27, 2009 by


Create Work Breakdown Structure is one of the 42 project management processes outlined in the fourth edition PMBOK®. Create Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is categorized as one of the five Scope knowledge area processes, and one of the twenty Planning processes. The purpose of this process is to break down the deliverables and project work into smaller components. The documents used as a reference for knowing what work needs to be broken down are the Project Scope Statement (created by the Define Scope process) and the Requirements Documentation (created by the Collect Requirements process). The project manager’s organization may also have templates available to help in creating the WBS. There is only one tool and technique for this process—decomposition. Decomposition refers to the actual work of breaking down components into smaller components. For example, a project’s deliverable may be a position paper. This may be broken down into performing background research, writing the paper, and proofing the paper. Each of these may then be further broken down—background research may be decomposed into determining relevant sources, obtaining written sources, reading written sources, and interviewing human sources. It’s important to know how far to breakdown components and to make sure sub-components completely meet the requirements of the component above so that nothing is missing. The major outputs of this process are the WBS, WBS dictionary, and scope baseline. The WBS illustrates the components and how they’ve been broken down. It could be displayed in various formats—such as an outline, organizational-type chart, etc.

The WBS dictionary is the accompanying document that further elaborates on the individual components of the WBS. The WBS and WBS dictionary together with the Project Scope Statement is called the Scope Baseline, and this Scope Baseline becomes incorporated into the Project Management Plan.