The work breakdown structure, the backbone of your project, is a hierarchy that starts at the peak with the scope. Then you break that scope down, or decompose it, into major and supporting deliverables. You stop decomposing the scope when you reach the level of an assignment that is the right size for an individual team member.
So the decomposition effort results in a work breakdown structure (WBS) with all the tasks that people must complete during the life of the project.
What Happens If I Don’t Do The Work Breakdown Structure Correctly?
IT project managers often make mistakes when building the work breakdown structure. One of the mistakes is to try and list every little task that has to be done in the project. Trying to manage those small pieces doesn’t ever work because you can’t stay on top of all the changes people make. The other mistake people make is work breakdown structure entries that are just activities. Every entry in the work breakdown structure should be a deliverable with clear, measurable acceptance criteria. That tells the team member what you expect (what a good job is) before they start work. If your team members have to guess about what’s expected of them, they will waste a lot of time and money.
There are 3 videos below.
1. Work Breakdown Structure Lecture Video
2. Microsoft Project® Software Video – Watch this lecture if your version of Project is 2010 or newer (all versions older than 2010, skip this video and go to #3)
3. Microsoft Project® Software Video – Watch this lecture if your version of Project is older than 2010