Work BreakdownWork Breakdown

Work Breakdown Structure Template

Visualize the scope of work needed to complete a project.

About the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) template

What is a Work Breakdown Structure?

A work breakdown is a project management tool that lays out everything a project must accomplish, organizes those tasks into multiple levels, and displays these elements graphically. It’s a deliverable-based approach, meaning you’ll end up with a detailed project plan of the deliverables you must create to finish the job.

Why create a Work Breakdown Structure?

Create a Work Breakdown Structure when you need to deconstruct your team's work into smaller, well-defined elements to make it more manageable. It’s a helpful project management tool that can keep team members informed, identify specific project deliverables, and help you develop a project schedule. This hierarchical structure makes it easier for a project manager to oversee a complex project and make sure every task gets done.

What are the 4 elements of a Work Breakdown Structure?

1. Hierarchy. 

Each Work Breakdown Structure is hierarchical. That means every “child” on the graph has a hierarchical relationship with its parent task. When you add up all the “child” elements, it’ll give you a clear picture of the parent task.

2. 100% rule. 

While every Work Breakdown Structure is a little different, they all follow the 100% rule. Every level of the graph must make up 100% of the parent level, and it must have at least two “child” elements.

3. Mutually exclusive elements. 

Every element at each level of a Work Breakdown Structure has to be mutually exclusive. That means there can’t be any overlap between deliverables or work. Enforcing mutual exclusivity helps cut down on miscommunication and avoid duplicate work.

4. Outcome-oriented. 

The Work Breakdown Structure is fundamentally a deliverable-oriented system. That means your graphic depiction must focus on the outcomes rather than the activities required to produce them. A good rule of thumb is to describe elements using nouns rather than verbs.

How to Create a Work Breakdown Structure in 3 Steps

1. Set goals & objectives

First, scope the entire project and make sure you understand the goals and objectives. That means determining what your project team is trying to accomplish with the project, how it fits into the broader goals of your organization.

2. Lay out deliverables

Next, catalog all of the major high-level deliverables of the project. These will be the second tier of the structure, and will be comprised of sub-projects that works towards the overall goals & objectives laid out in the first step. 

3. Break deliverables into individual tasks

Finally, break those high-level deliverables into smaller pieces for a third level of activities that need to be done to complete the project. These are the specific daily sub-tasks required to get the project off the ground and ultimately completed.

FAQs about Work Breakdown Structure

What is included in a work breakdown structure?

There are typically three levels to a work breakdown structure: first, overall goals and objectives, with deliverables as the next level, and finally individual tasks as the final level.

Why use a work breakdown structure?

A work breakdown structure is a great way to break down an overall project into distinct individual tasks, along with aligning each of those tasks with priorities, goals & objectives.

Work Breakdown Structure Template

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