Understanding The Work Breakdown Structure (Wbs) Process For Multiple Projects And Programs

1956 words - 8 pages

1.0 Introduction to the Structure of a WBSA Work Breakdown Structure or Work Element Pyramid is a results-oriented family tree that captures all the work of a project in an organized way. It is often portrayed graphically as a hierarchical tree, however outlined; it should organize and define the scope of the project. It can also be a tabular list of "elements" categories and tasks or the indented task list that appears in your Gantt chart schedule. Listed below is a very simple illustration of a WBS tree of a sample project.WBS Tree1.0 Level 1 (Total Job)1.1, 1.2, 1.3 Level 2 (Major Subdivision)1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3 Level 3 (Minor Subdivisions),, Level 4 (Tasks),, Level 5 (Subtasks)The WBS chart listed above is an example but not inclusive. Large, complex projects are organized and comprehended by breaking them into progressively smaller pieces until they are a collection of defined "work packages" that may include a number of tasks. A $1,000,000,000 project is simply several $50,000 projects joined together. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is used to provide the framework for organizing and managing the work and most importantly tying resources to jobs and tracking the performance of the efforts. In planning a project, it is normal to become overwhelmed and confused as one begins to grasp the details and scope of even a modest size project. This is a common result when trying to understand the details of work that will be performed by a number of people over a period of time. The best way to break through the confusion is to break the project into smaller pieces (tasks and subtasks), and organize the pieces in a logical way using a WBS. The WBS format enables placement of the tasks in a placeholder category that can be accounted for and have better visibility. The visibility of tasks within a WBS allows us to see if tasks are causing delays on the entire project especially when they are in the critical path. Critical path is any task that must be accomplished along the way that, if not accomplished, brings the project to a screeching halt.The psychologists say our brains can normally comprehend around 7-9 items simultaneously. A project with thousands or even dozens of tasks goes way over our ability to grasp all at once. The solution is to divide and conquer. The WBS helps break thousands of tasks into chunks that we can understand and assimilate. Preparing and understanding a WBS for your project is a big step towards managing and mastering its inherent complexity. Standard (MIL-STD) 881B (25 Mar 93) as follows: "A work breakdown structure is a product-oriented family tree composed of hardware, software, services, data and facilities .... [It] displays and defines the product(s) to be developed and/or produced and relates the elements of work to be accomplished to each other and to the end product(s)." Mental discipline is required to develop a product-oriented or deliverable-oriented...

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