Chapter Developing the Work Breakdown Structure

In this chapter

• Clarify what a work breakdown structure (WBS) is, and is not

• Understand why the WBS is considered the most important tool of the project manager

• Learn what makes an effective WBS

• Learn how to avoid the common mistakes when developing a WBS

If you were to ask anyone off the street what they think of when they hear "project management," you are likely to hear "planning." And if you further ask them what they mean by "planning," you are likely to hear "schedule" or "work plan." Yes, even to the uninitiated, people know that project managers "plan" and develop "work schedules," if they do nothing else.

Yet, the process of understanding all the work that needs to be done and building a realistic project schedule continues to be the Achilles' heel of project management.

In this chapter, we begin our close review of the schedule development process by understanding the power and the purpose of the work breakdown structure (WBS). By performing this step correctly, we will do a much better job at the other detail project planning activities such as identifying resources, identifying risks, getting better estimates, building a realistic schedule, and developing an accurate project budget. In addition, a solid WBS allows us to better manage stakeholder expectations and the critical success factors throughout the project life cycle.

As part of this review, we will clarify exactly what a WBS is (and is not), we will understand why the WBS is crucial to our other project management activities, and we will learn how to develop an effective WBS and avoid the common miscues in this arena.



Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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