Work breakdown structure is a way of organizing tasks into smaller steps for easier management. This is essential to achieve effective project planning. In this post, I'll explain what WBS is and how it works.

WBS: What It Is?

A work breakdown structure is a hierarchical list of all the activities that need to be completed on a project. The WBS is used as a tool to help organize your project plan.

The WBS helps you break down any complex task into manageable components that include all the tasks or the project elements. 

Let's take a very simple example. If you have to complete a report, you can first write down the different sections such as Introduction, Body, Conclusion. Then you can further break these sections down into sub-sections like Headings, Subheadings, Paragraphs etc. You can continue breaking each section until you reach the smallest level of detail possible.

Another example could be of building a house. In that case, you could split the house construction scope into three main categories: foundation, structure and interior. Each category would be further divided into several levels of detail. For instance, the foundation may consist of excavation, preparation and concrete pouring etc. Similarly, the structure will contain walls, floor, ceiling, stairs, etc. Finally, the interior will require furniture, appliances, fixtures, gas line, plumbing, lighting, etc.

In short, the WBS is a hierarchy of the project scope with its various levels of details.

Why Use A Work Breakdown Structure?

There are many reasons why you should use a WBS. Here are some of them:

1. To ensure that no one forgets anything

2. To make sure that there are no duplicate efforts

3. To prevent overestimating the amount of time and material required

4. To improve communication between team members

5. To provide an overview of the project

Mutually Exclusive

Each element within a WBS must have a clear work scope that doesn't overlap with any others. In some cases, ambiguity might lead to duplicate effort or misunderstandings. For example, in the house construction example, where we divided the scope into three main categories, you need to clarify where the bolts connecting the foundation and structure will fall. Whether these are a part of the foundation or the structure. You do not want duplication here.

100% Rule

According to the 100% rule, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) must include everything that needs to be done for the project to succeed.

Taking the same example discussed in the "Mutually Exclusive" section above, you do not want to miss those bolts in the scope by not including them neither in the foundation nor in the structure scope.


In summary, we learned about the work breakdown structure. We also saw how it could help us in achieving better project planning. It includes all the necessary information needed to understand what's going on within a project. This makes it easier for anyone who wants to get involved in this project to know the exact scope.

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