A Coding Scheme for Your WBS

Posted on January 28, 2010 by


Building on the last two days’ postings, we have more today on Work Breakdown Structures (WBS). As a reminder, a WBS is a deliverable-oriented hierarchy of the work to be done on a project. According to the Project Management Institute’s Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures, the WBS should have a coding scheme that makes the hierarchical nature of the WBS clear. This means that each individual element in the WBS has an identifier, and these identifiers cannot just be random—they have to have an order and meaning. It doesn’t matter if the WBS is in an outline or chart form. Here’s an example of a coding scheme for an outline WBS that shows a hierarchy for a Kentucky Derby Party. Notice that the number of digits indicates the element’s level in the WBS. For example, “ Ice Cream” has four digits and is in the fourth level. Its last digit is “3” which indicates that it is the third element for its parent element of “1.2.1”.

1 Kentucky Derby Party

1.1 Television

1.2 Snacks

                    1.2.1 Food

                    Tea Sandwiches


                    Ice Cream

                    1.2.2 Beverages

                    Mint Juleps


                    Pink Lemonade

1.3 Invitations

          1.3.1 Guest List

          1.3.2 Stamps

          1.3.3 Invitations