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									Work Breakdown Structure Development
 Overview                A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a deliverable-oriented
                         grouping of project elements that organizes and defines the total
                         scope of the project work: work not in the WBS is outside the scope
                         of the project.
                         The WBS is often used to develop or confirm a common
                         understanding of project scope. Each descending level represents
                         and increasingly detailed description of the project elements.
 What does the           WBS’s are communicated and organized in many ways. The two
 WBS look like?          most common ways to communicate a WBS is either a hierarchy
                         diagram or a table of contents (TOC) layout. In some cases both
                         formats are used to gain understanding and define the work to be
                         performed. Typically, complex projects with a large number of
                         internal and external stakeholders respond better to a hierarchy
                         diagram. However, to understand and accomplish the specific work
                         tasks, the project team responds better to the TOC layout.

                                                            1     M ANAGEM ENT
              Example - WBS/How?                                  1 .1 I n it ia t e
                                                                  1 .2 P la n
                                                                  1 .3 E x e c u t e
                                                                  1 .4 C o n t r o l
                                                                  1 .5 C lo s e
                        Project                             2     R E Q U IR E M E N T S
                                                                  2 .1 A s s e s s
  Manage     Rqmts       Design        Build   Deliver            2 .2 D e t e r m in e
                                                                  2 .3 A n a ly z e
  Plan      Assess      Engineer   Construct   Install            2 .4 P r o p o s e
  Execute   Determine   Specify    Test        Train              2 .5 … ..
                                                            3     D E S IG N
  Control   Analyze     •          Validate    •
                                   Integrate                      3 .1 E n g in e e r
  Close     Propose     •                      •                  3 .2 S p e c if y
  •         •           •          •           •                  3 .3 … .
  •         •                      •
                                                                  3 .4 … ..
                                   •                        4     B U IL D
                                                                  4 .1 C o n s t r u c t
                                                                  4 .2 T e s t
                                                                  4 .3 V a lid a t e
                                                                  4 .4 I n t e g r a t e
                                                            5     D E L IV E R
                                                                  5 .1 I n s t a ll
                                                                  5 .2 T r a in
                                                                  5 .3 … ..
                                                                  5 .4 … ..

Hierarchy Diagram Format                                   Table of Contents Format

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           Different WBSs There are many types of breakdown structures. The most
                          commonly referred to is the WBS, which will be the primary point of
                          discussion. However, often the term means different types of work
                          breakdown to different people. Often confused with the WBS are

                                          Product Breakdown Structure (PBS) – describing “what” is the
                                          element pieces of the product or service.

                                          Organizational Breakdown Structure (OBS) – describing the staffing
                                          of the organization and who will perform the work.

                                          Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) – describing “how” all the work
                                          required to build the product or service is to be performed.

                                          Contract Work Breakdown Structure (CWBS) – describing explicitly
                                          the pieces of work that a contract will cover. This is a sub-element
                                          of the overall WBS that specifically identifies the work to be covered
                                          by contract. Each can be used to describe different elements of the
                                          project. The following illustrates the purposes to the project.

                                       What?                         How?                                Who?

                                        PBS                        WBS                                   OBS

                                     Product                    Work                           Organizational
                                   Breakdown                 Breakdown                          Breakdown
                                    Structure                 Structure                          Structure

                                                              Example - WBS/How?                                    Example - OBS/Who?
          Example - PBS/What?

                    CAR                                                 Project                                                Director

 Frame     Engine       Interior      Controls    Manage     Rqmts       Design        Build   Deliver       Mgr        Mgr           Mgr       Mgr
                                                                                                           Staff1     Staff1        Staff1
Fendors    Carburetor   Front Seats               Plan      Assess      Engineer   Construct   Install                                       Staff1
                                      Steering                                                             Staff2     Staff2        Staff2
Roof       Cylinders    Back Seats                Execute   Determine   Specify    Test        Train                                         Staff2
                                      Fuel                                                                 Staff3     •             Staff3   Staff3
Hoods      Piston       Radio         Odometers   Control   Analyze     •          Validate    •           Staff4     •             •
                                                                                   Integrate                                                 Staff4
Doors      Cam          •             Wipers      Close     Propose     •                      •           •                        •        Staff5
           •                                      •         •           •          •           •           •
Windows                               Lights                                                                                        •        •
•          •                                      •         •                      •                       •
                                      •                                            •
•                                     •

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 Common               The two most common approaches to developing the WBS are the
 approaches to        top down approach and the bottom up approach. Some find a
 Developing the       combination of both beneficial.
                      The top down approach uses a predefined product development
                      lifecycle, or a WBS template, or a WBS from a previous similar
                      project as structured models to define the WBS from general to

                      The bottom up approach uses a planning group to brainstorm the
                      work elements that are needed to deliver the major deliverables of
                      the project. A planner then groups the output from the
                      brainstorming sessions into phases, activities and tasks.

                                                            Brainstorming all
                             Top Down
                                                           work to be done and
                                                           then grouping into a
                        Defining or using a                     hierarchy.
                        general to specific
                        structure to
                        progressively detail                 Bottom Up
                        the work

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 Top Down             This approach involves using a model and reviewing the major
 Approach             project deliverables which have been subdivided into smaller, more
                      manageable components until the deliverables are defined in
                      sufficient detail to support future project phases (planning,
                      executing, controlling, and closing). The model usually is already
                      organized from the top down, however the following steps ensure
                      that the model’s structure is applicable and tailored to your specific

                                      Choose Your


                                      Can Adequate                    5.
                                    Estimates be made    Yes   Confirm lowest        WBS Complete
                                       at this level?               level


                                     Review, Verify
                                    and/or modify the
                                    next Subsequent

 1. Choose            Review various life cycle models, similar project’s WBS, or life cycle
    your model        templates and choose a model closest to your specific project.
                          Note: Various life cycle templates and examples of other
                          projects are available on the PMO web site.
                          To find various life cycle templates on the PMO web site main
                          menu, go to template, go to executing and click on any you
                          would like to review.
                          To find examples of other projects on the PMO web site main
                          menu, go to template, go to planning, and click on examples.
                          Look at examples of the Integrated Project Plan, which contains
                          the project’s WBS.

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 2. Verify the        Starting at the top, verify that the model’s phases are appropriate
    phases and        and represent the major elements of your specific project. In
    highest           general, the major elements should be the high-level project
    level             deliverables and project management.
                          Make sure you have a clear understanding of the purpose of
                          each phase or deliverable. If this is not documented by the
                          model, you should briefly describe the purpose for inclusion in
                          the WBS or WBS dictionary.
                          In some cases a previous project may have already completed
                          some of the phases in the model, in this case, a phase or piece
                          of work may be eliminated, but you should confirm that key
                          information or work deliverables are available to the project. If
                          they are not, you may want to leave the phase in, intending to
                          modify task(s) for reviewing what has been accomplished, what
                          needs to be documented. An example of a phase that is often
                          completed by a previous project is “Feasibility”
 3. Decide if    Decide if adequate cost and duration estimates can be developed
    adequate     at this level of detail.
    can be           The meaning of adequate may change over the course of the
    made at this     project. Decomposition of a major deliverable that will be
    level of         produced 6 – 12 months out may not be possible.
    detail           If adequate cost and duration estimates can be made with this
                     level of detail proceed to step 5 and to step 4 if there is not.
                     This means that there may be different levels of decomposition
                     for each of the major deliverables.
                          Guideline for making the decision – if a deliverable can be
                          completed within a 2 – 3 week period it is probably adequate in
                          detail. This is a general guideline; a few deliverables may need
                          to be broken down into what can be accomplished in a week.
                          Also it does not make sense to falsely break down a deliverable
                          into two deliverables that is expected to be of 4 weeks duration.
 4. Review and        Verify, from the model, the next subsequent level, which represents
    Verify the        more specific work detail. Choose the appropriate work elements.
    subsequent            The model’s deliverable elements should be described in
    level                 tangible, verifiable results in order to facilitate the project
                          progress. Tangible, verifiable results can include services as
                          well as products (e.g.,monthly status reports or constructed
                          code). Repeat step 3 for each step that you have chosen
                          necessary for the project.

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 5. Confirm the       Verify the correctness of the lowest level. Verify your tailoring.
    lowest level          Are the lower-level items both necessary and sufficient for
                          completion of the item? If not, the lower-level items must be
                          modified (added to, deleted from, or redefined).
                          Is each work item clearly and completely defined? If not, the
                          descriptions must be revised and expanded.
                          Can each item be appropriately scheduled? Budgeted?
                          Assigned to a specific organizational unit (e.g., department,
                          team, or person). If not, the lower-level items must be modified
                          (added to, deleted from, or redefined).
 Pros of the          Promotes consistency from project to project, lending to better
 Approach             communication and understanding organizationally.

                      Can be completed independently and in less time.

                      Is simpler than creating from scratch and helps to ensure that some
                      work that would have to be done has not been forgotten or

                      May be recognized as the “standard” approach by others.

 Cons of the          Depends on the project planner to make the appropriate choices.
                      Does not promote, as much, understanding of the work with a
                      broader group of people on the project. Terminology and Structure
                      get in the way of communicating the work.

                      The end product or completed WBS does intimidate those who did
                      not work to develop it or have not seen or used one before. Many
                      times, this puts the planner in a position of defensiveness.

                      Requires the planner to do more work after completion to get
                      understanding by the stakeholders and project team.

 Best to use          A majority of the personnel are familiar with the model or are
 this Approach        comfortable using a predefined model. If they are not, personnel
 When…                tend to resist this approach as being too formal and unknown.

                      When the project plan must be prepared before some of the key
                      project team players can be committed to the project.

                      When a specific approach has already been selected, i.e. Using a
                      “Rapid Application Development” approach.

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 Bottom Up            The bottom up approach involves using a small group of people (5-
 Approach             6) who have some subject matter expertise to plan the project. The
                      technique uses the brainstorming method to identify the work
                      needing to be performed to deliver a specific thing. When the
                      project is large or complex, the brainstorming activity is focused on
                      a major deliverable or end product instead of the broader scope of
                      the project.

                      The results of the brainstorming session, generally are the pieces of
                      work or tasks that the group knows needs to be done. It is similar
                      to creating a “to-do list”. One of the planners then takes this
                      information and groups the related work. These groups may then
                      be grouped again to build up to the highest level of definitions. The
                      information is reviewed with the original group and they modify, fix,
                      and add any missing pieces. This approach uses the following
                      steps to complete a WBS.

                                          Create the "to-do"
                                             list of work

                                           Organize the "to-

                                          Review and adjust


                                             Correct and


                                           WBS Complete

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 1. Create the        Clearly state “WHAT” problem is to be solved and review no-
    “to-do” list      limitations brainstorming. It is important for the group to understand
    of work           what problem is to be solved and to know where they are starting.
                      For example, at this point scope may be very vague. If this is the
                      case make it clear, so that an item likely to go on the list is
                      “Determine and nail down scope”.
                      Brainstorm list of work needed to:
                        Complete the project, or
                        Complete one of the major deliverables of the project, i.e.
                         Requirements, or
                        Complete a piece of the project by a specified date, i.e. what
                         work is required to produce a recommended alternative and a
                         preferred strategy.
                      End the meeting by letting participants know that the lists will be
                      grouped into related work and brought back for review and “fixing”.
                      A few sessions may be needed to get all the work identified.
 Brainstorming           Brainstorming ideas should not be criticized or discouraged.
 Tips                     They should be listed as they come up, preferably on a white
                          board where they are easily visible by all.
                         If possible have someone else facilitate the meeting. Have
                          someone else write on the board or take turns.
                         Encourage the use of starting w/verb because people define
                          work better when they start with a verb.
                         Don’t correct or worry about wording, sequencing, or level of
                          detail. If you or others do, it highly discourages further ideas.
                         Capture all phrases, thoughts. You may end up building upon
                          them as more becomes known throughout the session.
                         Encourage asking for explanation and get it documented.
                         Steer them away from discussing or setting requirements or
                          talking about solutions, by suggesting a work activity to
                          determine requirements or investigate various solutions.
 Brainstorming        A list of some verbs is sometimes useful for the brainstorming
 Verbs                groups to help them get started with using a verb to describe a
                      piece of work that needs to be done. The following is a list of verbs
                      that can be used to start a phrase or thought.
                              Review, Research, Collect, Analyze, Assess, Determine,

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                              Define, Describe, Design, Develop work activities, Choose,
                              Obtain, Prepare, Approve
                              Construct, Build, Write, Obtain, Create
                              Validate, Pilot, Check, Test
                              Implement, Move, Train, Replace, Evaluate
 2. Organize          Back at a desk have one of the planners review the list and group
    the               the related items - items that build up to the creation of a
    “to-do’s”         deliverable. To do this:
                        Take the very detailed, but related steps and group them into
                         tasks. Name the task. The task name should be a noun, in
                         layman terms, and reflect the intent of the grouped work. Do not
                         restrict yourself to a single word. For example, you could name
                         a group “Assessment of the Current Situation or System”.
                        Take related tasks and group them into activities. Name the
                        Group activities into phases.
 Organizing             Do what appears easiest first. There will be work that is easier
 Tips                    to group and other work that is not yet defined in sufficient detail
                         to group.
                        Go back through and adjust as you need. This is a draft, while
                         working on it the “how” it should be organized becomes more
                         apparent on a second or third review.
                        You should change the wording, making phrases into complete
                         sentences. Be careful to change wording, but not intent. The
                         group must be able to recognize their contribution. For
                         example if the original phrase was - Identify coding changes
                         needed, you might change it to – Identify and make a list of all
                         the changes needed in each program, object, utility, etc.
                        Create a miscellaneous activity. There will be some work
                         activity that doesn’t seem to group with any other. In this case
                         group them for now and name them Miscellaneous Activity.
                         When reviewing with the group they may have ideas as to
                         where the work belongs or perhaps they are truly miscellaneous

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                          work needing done.
                        Leave space for the under developed tasks or activities to add
                         to later with the group. Some of the work identified in the
                         brainstorming session may have been very vague or at a very
                         high level of detail. For example – Test everything. This may
                         be fleshed out with the group or perhaps left at a high level until
                         more early work has been accomplished.
 3. Review and        Meet with the original group to review and adjust. This should be
    Adjust            the first time that they have seen the work organized since the
    w/group           brainstorming session. Generally it does not work to send it out in
                      advance of the meeting.
                      Tell the group what has been done with the work. Tell the group
                      that now they will help fix the draft.

                      Go through the structure and fix and confirm groupings. Ask them if
                      the names need adjusting to be clear to a broader audience.

                      Add additional forgotten tasks or activities. Sometimes as the
                      group reviews the information, it prompts them to think of some
                      work that was forgotten. Also there will be some blank space to be
                      filled in where work was not defined in enough detail.
 Review and             Constrain Level of Detail. The organizer while reviewing initially
 Adjust Tips             should constrain the level of detail. This means that many of
                         the very detailed pieces of work will be grouped into a task. The
                         tasks overall effort should be able to be approximately
                         completed in 1-3 weeks.

                        This lowest level (usually a task or subtask) should contain a
                         definition that includes the detailed steps. For example, the
                         following is a grouping of several lower level details of work
                         related to building a chicken coop.

                          Determine Requirement and Obtain Materials- Schedule &
                          facilitate a meeting to obtain agreement of all requirement for
                          the chicken coop. Create a list of materials and raw estimates.
                          Obtain funding and procure materials.
 4. Verify If         To verify the correctness and completeness of the WBS, you
    Correct and       should be able to for each lowest level work item:
                        Name the deliverables. Eg. Scope Definition Doc. Code
                         Specification #1, Painted Exterior,
                        Indicate critical dependencies,
                        Apply approximate duration estimates,

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                        Assign a resource roll. E.g. Carpenter, testor, analyst
 Pros of this         Promotes ownership, understanding, and broader knowledge of the
 Approach             planned work.

                      It is the easier approach to get started with, does not take much
                      preparation time. Most people can relate to the creation of the “to-
                      do” list concept used during the brainstorming session.

                      Is easier and less threatening for people who do not normally work
                      with a WBS to grasp and utilize the concept. Special terminology
                      and structure do not get in the way of understanding the work.

                      Gets key project staff involved with the project at the start.

 Cons of this         Requires several people to participate to complete the plan.
                      Creates less organizational consistency in project WBSs.

                      Work steps that have evolved from lessons learned from previous
                      projects are less likely to make it into the plan. There is risk that
                      some work steps will be identified late or not at all.

 Use this             Use this approach when a majority of the people who are likely to
 Approach             be involved with the project have not been exposed to project
 When…..              management practices on previous projects.

                      When the project is cross organizational or a multitude of various
                      perspectives are going to be needed to plan and collaborate on the

                      The project is truly a very unique project and life cycle models are
                      not available.

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