By Published On: 1 October 2021Categories: Articles3.8 min read

WBS concept: “how you eat an elephant?”

Have you ever felt confused about how to start managing a project because the scope of work was very complex? One way out of this problem is to create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). WBS is one of the important elements in project planning. WBS will help you break down a large job into smaller units.

Breaking down work into smaller tasks is a common productivity technique used to make work easier to manage and accomplish. Through WBS, you will find it easy to view work details, make schedules, track every progress that exists, detect problems that arise, to make good budget estimates.

Work Breakdown Structure

WBS can be understood in the following simple concept: “How do you eat an elephant?”, the answer is to divide the elephant into smaller pieces. According to the PMBOK® Guide—Third Edition, WBS is a results-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be carried out by the project team to achieve the project goals and desired outcomes. The WBS organizes and defines the overall scope of a project.

In the WBS structure, each descending level represents a more detailed definition of a work unit. The upper levels generally describe the main work areas or main objectives of the project. The lower WBS elements then provide details to support project management processes such as schedule development, cost estimates, resource allocation, to risk assessment. The lowest level WBS component is then referred to as a work package which contains a definition of the work to be done and can be tracked every time its progress. The details of this work package can later be used as a reference in the scheduling process to support the description of further tasks, activities, resources, and milestones.

1. Improve Accuracy in Defining Project Scope

The WBS will form a hierarchical tree structure to describe the project scope in more detail. Each level in this structure will then break down more specific and measurable unit project outcomes or objectives.

2. Better Responsibilities, Resource Allocation, and Monitoring of Projects

WBS makes the product delivery process more precise and concrete so the project team knows exactly what to achieve in each delivery. It also allows for better estimates of cost, risk, and time. It also lets you double-check all products or progress sent to stakeholders more specifically and make sure nothing is left out or overlapped.

3. Basis of The Schedule and Budget’s Design

WBS lays out basic information as a reference in making effective schedules and better budget plans. A well-defined WBS allows project resources to be allocated to specific work units, detailed scheduling, and precise budget estimates.

4. WBS Creates Accountability

The detailed information in the WBS makes it easier for each work package to be held accountable to the party implementing it. Through WBS, they cannot hide if they are held accountable for their work.


5. WBS Increases Commitment

The process of developing and completing a WBS can generate morale and increase team commitment. While the project manager will often develop the WBS at a higher level, he or she will require the participation of his core team to fine-tune the details in it. This participation will produce a sense of involvement in each member.

An effective work breakdown structure (WBS) should contain each of these elements or components:

-Project goal

-Project stages

-List of tasks at each stage

Here are two of the many examples of WBS structures that you can use as references to create them:

Work Breakdown Structure

Work Breakdown Structure

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That’s a quick review of what a Work Breakdown Structure is, its benefits, and easy steps to make it. Have you created a WBS for your current project?

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