Sunday, August 2, 2009

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Refers to a portion of a total project management plan that is used by the project management team to organize a project into manageable objectives and create a blueprint by which the steps leading to the completion of a project are obtained.
The Work Breakdown Structure can be thought of like an outline of the project and like an outline, becomes more detailed under the subheadings or work packages. The whole project is defined by the Work Breakdown Structure, with the work packages fitting together at the completion of the project to complete the whole.
The work packages are individual steps or portions of the task that must be completed in order to achieve the project management goal. It allows for several different teams to work simultaneously on seperate components of a project. This outline applies to any project where a good or service must be presented to the client in timely manner. These goods or services are called the deliverables, and can be either internal or external. Other terms that are related are work package, control account, contract work breakdown structure, and project summary work breakdown structure.
The Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary is a useful resource for project management, and should be consulted for relevant information on each component of the work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS dictionary includes entries for each WBS component that briefly defines the scope or statement of the work, defines deliverables, contains a list of associated activities, and provides a list of recognized milestones to gage progress.
Project management should also consult the Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary for other information such as:
- Identifying which organization is responsible for the specific work component.
- Scheduled start and end dates.
- Required resources.
- Estimated cost of project.
- Charge numbers.
- Contract information, details & requirements.
- Quality control protocol, requirements & standards.
- Technical information necessary for proper performance of work.
The Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary is an essential information resource for project management. It should be consulted before commencing any work component in order to insure that proper standards, procedures, and quality control measures are being followed. Due to ever changing circumstances, the Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary is under constant revision. Therefore, frequent review of its contents will assure proper project management.
This term is defined in the 3rd edition of the PMBOK but not in the 4th.

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