Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) Checklist

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This work breakdown structure (WBS) checklist allows you to produce an accurate and detailed WBS document that encompasses all the necessary work for your project. This document will help you to create your project schedule, costs and resource requirements.

The work breakdown structure document is essential to any project manager because it provides a detailed breakdown of all the work packages that constitute your complete project as part of the scope plan.

This document can take a variety of formats and you will select the one that best reflects the knowledge base of those involved in approving your project. This also determines the level of detail you will present in your WBS. The diagram below gives you an example of the different formats you could use.

Work Breakdown Structure Checklist

Your WBS forms a foundation stone of your project communications in the form of your WBS report. Its purpose is to keep all key individuals and groups up-to-date on the progress your project is making according to the project plan.

This report is fundamental in allowing you to develop and retain support for your project. It is the main channel you will use as project manger to explain how the project is progressing and to provide reasoned evidence for work packages that are falling behind, how this is being addressed and what impact this will have on the project schedule.

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A WBS report is a vital project management tool because it is the means for a project manager to manage the expectations of key individuals involved in the project effectively so that you retain their support and backing. To create your WBS you need the project schedule, cost estimates and resource requirements. Once completed this document is then presented to your project stakeholders and sponsors for approval.
WBS Report

Many organizations during the decomposition process use what is known as the '8-80 rule', which defines an item of work as being able to be completed in any time frame from 8 to 80 hours. A natural output from this exercise of decomposition is the creation of your WBS dictionary and glossary of terms that will be used throughout the project.

These items ensure that any terms unique to the project or market sector are fully documented and anyone involved with your project has the same understanding of any term referred to in discussions or documentation. This process ensures that a common level of understanding within the project members, stakeholders and third parties is achieved and sustained for its duration.

The WBS dictionary gives a detailed explanation of each work package. It provides a project definition for any specialist terms, industry jargon or acronyms that are being used.

Both the WBS report and WBS dictionary have a delivery focus and communicate information at a work package level. By orientating communications and monitoring at this level it is easy to assess whether the progressing being made is sufficient to ensure the project successfully meets its objective. This also allows inter-relationship with other deliverables to be clearly represented and necessary adjustments to be made to keep to the project plan.

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