Creating and Maintaining a WBS Dictionary

The work breakdown structure provides a roadmap to carry out specific activities of the project in a pre-defined manner to avoid confusion and conflict among the teammates. so that any friction in the production process can be reduced to a minimum and the activities carried out smoothly.

What is a WBS?

Work breakdown structure is a tool to manage the activities of the project; WBS decomposes the activities of large projects into smaller tasks and then distributes them among the specialized professionals to carry out their respective activities, and all the project data is maintained in the WBS dictionary.

First, it breaks down the project's complex components into bite-sized components, making them easy to handle and solve. Work breakdown structure is a pre-planned module for every project to work on the projects by breaking them into smaller modules and carrying them in teams to complete the task in the assigned duration of time.

Most of the WBS are deliverable bases but some are also phase based. WBS is used when the projects are complex and large because a single mistake can ruin the project, affect the cost of capital, and increase the time of project completion. With the help of WBS, it becomes manageable for the team members to identify their tasks, manage them, and understand how their small part in the task will impact the project as a whole.

According to WBS, when we further move down the levels of the project, we can see each level break down into further details by applying the 100% rule at each level.

At every level, the details of the project are broken down into smaller tasks to reduce the complexity according to the 100% rule and then assigned to the respective team members according to their specialization in the tasks.

How to Create a WBS Dictionary?

Elaborate the project

The project is to be elaborated for a better understanding of the task before it is broken down into smaller modules. The scope and purposes of the project are clearly defined so that each step of the project and its related tasks are clear to the team members. Complex projects are refined first and then broken down into small tasks for execution.

Set Project Margins

Once the project is defined and identified, now we have to set boundaries for what should be included in the project and what should not be included in the project. It made the execution of the project easier, but if we define the requirements of the projects earlier and allot the budget, then the project execution will become much easier. It will also save money by predefining the requirements and not spending on anything not related to the project itself. It is necessary to define the boundaries so that the workflow will be smooth and efficient.

Project Deliverables Identification

Project deliverable identification defines the project scope statement or mission statement. It defines the procedure of work that should be done to deliver the output under predefined circumstances and budgets. It focuses on what steps should be taken to deliver the output efficiently and reduce the cost of production without affecting the quality of the output

Define and Breakdown the Element of Level 1

Define the elements of level 1 deliverables according to the 100% rule. According to this rule, everything necessary for the project is included and defined so that the blueprint can be created without any problems.

After defining the deliverables, the next step is to break down the elements of level 1 into small parts according to the 100% rule, and then these tasks are assigned to the teams specialized in that field. This process is called the decomposition of elements in the project.

Identify the Teams

This step is the most significant part because the productivity of the task depends upon the distribution of work to appropriate team members to increase the efficiency of production. The product manager has to keep a record of all the activities performed, guide the team members and keep a check that there is no internal conflicts arise as it will reduce the efficiency of production.

Prepare a Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart shows the difference between the task completion timing of what is expected to complete the task and how much time is consumed by the task to be completed. The Gantt chart records the period of every task and how much time is taken for each activity. It helps the manager understand their performance status to determine whether their performance is lagging behind the rate of performance expected or not.

How to Maintain the Work Breakdown Structure?

The most important thing is to maintain the WBS dictionary throughout the execution of the project. Once you are done with the initial steps of the WBS, we have to maintain it with the task completions so that everything will be recorded and we can see the actual difference between the expected rate of project execution and the real-time execution rate of the project.

  • Deliverables Focused − We have to maintain the WBS dictionary to understand the output rate of the project and what changes can be made to improve its efficiency. It is deliverable-focused and doesn’t care about the path that has been taken to execute the tasks.

  • Everything should be exclusive, and there should be no overlapping of activities that will result in higher production costs and consume more time and energy. The project manager should take care of task execution management. The execution of unnecessary activities will increase the production cost without adding any value to the project.

  • Work breakdown structure is a consistent planning tool that creates the blueprint of the project, decomposes it into smaller modules, and then assigns them to their respective teams. The WBS is supposed to be smart and clear and avoid any kind of confusion. A consistent amount of details and deliverables makes the project vision clear to the team, smooths the execution process, and helps the manager to maintain a WBS Dictionary.