Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) Component Tips

Posted on February 4, 2010 by


One of the most key project management documents is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which is a deliverable-oriented hierarchy of the work to be done on a project. In fact, there is an entire standard from the Project Management Institute devoted to this document (Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures). This standard contains some useful descriptions of a high-quality WBS. Focusing here on the individual components of the WBS, each component should contain only one deliverable. This deliverable may be either tangible (such as a report or product) or intangible (such as information or administration). The components must be unique so that there is no wasteful replication of deliverables. Any intermediate deliverables necessary should be included as their own component. So if your final product is a strawberry cheesecake for your guests next weekend, then any practice cheesecakes made to test out different recipes are intermediate deliverables. Unlike us humans, WBS components can only have one parent. And they must have one parent—they cannot be orphans that do not tie into a higher-level deliverable nor are they allowed to trace their lineage to two or more parents.