A project wouldn’t be what it is without a plan.
After all, the whole idea of project management is to simplify the lifecycle of initiating, executing, monitoring, and closing a project.
And in this regard, a work breakdown structure is essential.
For one, it breaks down a project’s tasks and subtasks, making it easier to identify dependencies at a granular level. And for another, it gives stakeholders and project teams insight into priorities and the timelines within which goals are to be met.
A WBS can be considered the skeleton of a project plan. It drives decisions concerning task identification, establishing the project’s scope and allocating the right quantity, and quality of resources.
This is precisely why modern project management tools with collaborative features contain the option to create a Gantt chart within the work breakdown structure excel template. This way, everyone is informed of the progress made and the numbers can be adjusted in accordance with circumstantial evidence.
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Let’s drill down to the components a work breakdown structure template should have!
#1. Particulars of a WBS template
A work breakdown structure in project management starts with listing out the tasks. The exactness set from the very beginning makes it easier on a Project Management Office to execute work, given that the dependencies, priorities, and timelines are visible and known.
Any WBS example you look at should contain the following;
a. Task Number – This where you record the number of tasks in each phase of the project, and its subtasks.
b. Tasks – This is the index of all tasks. An additional column describing the task is optional.
c. Resources Assigned – This column can be used to enter the number and type of resources. There should be at least one entry to indicate who will take up ownership of the work.
d. Start date – The earliest date by which the work in question should be started.
e. End date – The latest date by which the work in question should be completed.
f. Duration – The gap between start and end dates that can be found by subtracting the former from the latter.
g. Completion (%) – This column is flexible according to how much of the work has been done, and can be holistically compared across the document to gauge how much work is done, versus how much remains to be completed.
h. Weeks – Barring weekends, the week column indicates the working days within a week that the particular task runs for.
#2. Adopting a WBS software
A WBS project requires a lot of thought. If any high-level task is left out, it can create a risk you didn’t see coming, such as forgetting a dependency which adversely impacts the remaining tasks. The more detailed a work breakdown structure is, the easier it is to execute the deliverables.
You can then look into resource availability statuses and find resources who have both the skills and the bandwidth to take up work.
A work breakdown structure software gives you visibility into each and every project, non-project and BAU work, and even accounts for leaves and holidays in order to create a realistic schedule.
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More importantly, it prevents constraint violations in the form of a budget or time overrun, by estimating the efforts and time needed. Before investing in such a tool, however, it’s better to play it safe by examining the number and importance of projects your business does.
By trying out the features on a work breakdown structure template, you will not only know how to customize your spreadsheets but will also get a better idea of how tools are designed. So go on and download it today!