The power of a WBS…

Shortcut to get to a full project overview and develop integrated management plan

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Project management is a complex skill/art to master. It is my endeavor to assist those new to the field to gain “hindsight” driven insight into what makes projects more successful.

Today we are going to discuss a reasonably technical element – Work Breakdown Structures (WBS).

The name is even daunting, but I can assure you that it is quite simple once you have grasped the concept, and the benefits are numerous and powerful.

So what is it?

What does it do?

How can it help me?

The way in which you should approach this is as follow:

  • Can I break up my project into smaller (logical) pieces? E.g. if you bake a cake you can separate preparation, baking and decorating quite easily.
  • Ok now if we look at these pieces, are there logical pieces inside of them? E.g. in preparation there are 2 other pieces – wet ingredients and dry ingredients that have to be mixed separately (depending on the recipe of course)
  • Carry on until it stops making sense or all the pieces have been broken up into elements.
  • If I ignore outside influences, what do I – and my team – have to do to achieve success in each of the lowest pieces? E.g. all the dry ingredients have to be mixed BEFORE the wet ingredients. As a general rule, you will now be in the task or actions level where stuff has to done by people.
  • If it becomes clear that you may have missed a piece (measure the ingredients) simply add them in on the level that makes the most sense.

wbs1

What has happened here is astonishing:

  • You have actually planned the work that would be required to achieve the overall goal in a structure and logical manner
  • You have determined what has to be done in some sequence (e.g. measure before mix)
  • You can see where tasks can occur simultaneously (e.g. switch on the oven and gather ingredients)
  • You know that there are dependencies (e.g. you cannot pour the dough into the baking pan before you have greased the pan.
  • You have an idea of the time (work and duration), the number of resources (ingredients, equipment, and people) and sequence of events – I would call that a basic schedule with time and cost management capability.
  • You know what can be measured – when, where, who… – I would call that a quality and milestone plan you may even want to base your communications plan on this…

I know this sounds like stuff you have heard of before, but if you do this early enough (it’s never too late) in your project, you will be able to isolate the areas that you and your team are not too clear about. You can now focus on these areas to gain the knowledge or information required to properly plan – I’m so sorry, would this be your risk log?

I promise you just knowing what you don’t know is justification enough to do the exercise.

Every document and tool (e.g. Project Charter, Scope of work, Schedule, Resources plan, Communications plan, Quality plan, Risk / Issue management plan, Cost management plan) now have a BACKBONE from which they can be developed.

If the WBS is used in developing your project management infrastructure, you will discover that you have an integrated management plan.

If that does not impress the boss??????

integrated-management

The most important benefit that the WBS provides a project team is – – – – UNDERSTANDING!

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Now you and your team simply have to get up, show up and execute…

Please follow, share and comment. I love to hear from you.

 

Author: Anton van den Berg

I am but a mortal on this earth, that received an amazing gift – my stunning children where we are graced a fabulously loving home and family environment. I have been blessed by angelic and mythical friends, cohorts, and acquaintances that inspire, challenge, stimulate and motivate me and other people on this earth to be and become the person that lives in their dreams; to be good, loving and most of all caring. I was born fortunate because my birth at a certain place and time bestowed on me access to a language which allows expression to some degree the richness of human existence. All my life i have been burdened with a desire to tell stories that nobody has heard before. These stories were not always welcome, understood or appreciated, but we have to learn – each of us – how to become the person we were destined to be by accepting failure, learning from it and to somehow try again. The more we practice the better we become, the more we fail the more focused we grow in our efforts. I am indebted to GOD ALMIGHTY for the absolute overwhelming gift of life. I have learnt that we all belong to some religion, faith, understanding or belief system. I cannot tell you that what you believe is wrong, because you grew up in a different part of the world, different culture or different circumstances. I can however encourage you to become the best that you can be, inside of your faith and belief system. As all can see I am just – a very lucky good guy –

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