The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a key project deliverable that organizes the team’s work into manageable sections. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines the work breakdown structure as a “deliverable oriented hierarchical breakdown of the work to be executed by the project team”.

The main purpose of a WBS is to reduce complicated large scale activities into a collection of tasks called a work package. These are discrete deliverables that need to be completed in a known order to complete the project. This is important to the project manager because they need to oversee the tasks effectively. Tasks must be measurable and independent, with clearly defined limits.

The WBS is a tool used by project managers to define and group a project’s discrete work elements in a way that helps organize and define the total scope of the project. The scope or the work to be done to achieve the goals of the project is directly proportional to the Cost and Time/Duration and governs the quality of the final outcome. If either of the three changes then one or more of the others will be affected.