Making a WBS – The Bottom-Up Method

Posted on February 1, 2010 by


A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which is a deliverable-oriented hierarchy of the work to be done on a project, can be created through several methods. According to the Project Management Institute’s Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures, common methods include: Top-Down, Bottom-Up, WBS Standards, and WBS Templates.

To apply the Bottom-Up method, all the project’s work packages must be known. Next, related work packages are grouped together. These groups can then be represented by parent-level deliverables, and these deliverables can be further grouped into higher levels so that everything is eventually arranged into a hierarchy. One should be careful that the child elements completely represent their parent element. Also, all groupings should come together under the highest level that represents the final product—there should not be any “stray” work packages that don’t support the final product. Stakeholders should agree that the WBS will meet the project’s needs before finalizing the document.

The Bottom-Up method is well suited for projects that are similar to previous projects because the deliverables are well-understood. Also, if a similar project has been done, that previous project may have a template that can be a useful starting point.