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Work Breakdown Structures


What Is a Work Breakdown Structure?

At the outset of a program, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the size, scope, and duration of such a complex effort. One way to get your mind around a large program or project is to break it down into chunks. Subdivide each task into progressively smaller subtasks. From one point of view, a $10 million program is just 200 interrelated $50,000 projects.

We call those discrete, manageable subtasks "work packages." A WBS is a framework for organizing and managing the work involved in a project or program. Organization takes the form of work packages. Since a WBS defines and organizes all of a program’s work packages, it defines the total scope of the program. A WBS is a comprehensive, outcome-oriented (rather than method-oriented) classification of project scope.

Most WBSs graphically depict the relationships among the various work elements, taking on the form of a tree structure or hierarchy. Preparing and understanding the WBS for your program is a big step toward managing its inherent complexity.

Let's take a look at an example.

See Long Description. D

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