205 Module 1: The Work Breakdown Structure

The work breakdown structure (WBS) is the backbone of your project. It is a hierarchy that starts with the project scope at the top. Then you break down, or decompose, the scope into major and supporting deliverables. Each deliverable must be stated in numbers or measurable terms. You stop breaking down the scope when you reach the level of an assignment that is the right size for an individual. The decomposition effort gives you all the tasks that people on the team must complete during the life of the project.

What Happens If I Don’t Do The Work Breakdown Structure Correctly?

People often make mistakes 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 2 lecture videos below. You do not need to watch both, just the one that fits your version of the software. 

  • The 1st lecture video is for people using Microsoft Project ® version 2010 or newer.
  • The 2nd lecture video is for people using any version of Microsoft Project® versions prior to 2010.


1. 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 #2)


2. Microsoft Project® Software Video – Watch this lecture if your version of Project is older than 2010

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