Work Breakdown Structure

This paper presents an elaborate analysis on a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The WBS involves a breakdown of the work necessary to complete a project. The WBS decomposes a project into easily manageable components. The paper introduces the topic by defining the WBS as a well-outlined and procedural hierarchical structure utilized in breaking down complex projects into individual components.

Afterwards, it proceeds with outlining some roles played by the Work Breakdown Structure in project management. It simply answers the question why project managers have to use the Work Breakdown Structure. Indeed we find out that the WBS is very integral to the overall success of any project and a component or full project failure can often be caused by a non-existent WBS or a poorly developed one.  Among the key roles highlighted herein there is a fact that the WBS helps an individual define and organise the scope of the total project. It also helps to assign responsibilities, allocate resources, monitor and control a project. This shows us how the WBS is indispensible in project management (Sherry, 2011).

Besides, this paper also cites that the breakdown of a project into sub-divisions leads to the efficiency in resource allocation. It sensitizes the need to ensure that the proper level of details has been taken. This is because very high detail level may result in the micromanagement of the complex project. It is evident that when a large and complex project is broken down, it becomes structured and easily understood. Thus, through the Work Breakdown Structure the leadership of a given project is not overwhelmed.

Various concepts encountered in the process of the development of the Work Breakdown Structure are also mentioned in this paper. This is important as any reader of this article would like to have a formidable grasp of the topic under discussion. This can only be achieved through the explanation of concepts of the Work Breakdown Structure.

There are various misconceptions about the Work Breakdown Structure mentioned in this paper. This is a definition of what has always been misconstrued to be a WBS. Some of these misconceptions include the fact that the WBS is not an exhaustive list of work. Instead it is an all-inclusive classification of the project scope. There is another misconception that the WBS is a project plan, a schedule or a chronological listing. Instead the WBS specifies what will be done and does not specify how or when. The other misplaced thought about the WBS is that it is an organizational hierarchy. Though, it is always used when assigning responsibilities.

This paper also mentions some concepts utilised when developing a Work Breakdown Structure. In addition to that, it outlines a chronological account of how the WBS has evolved  time to the present date. It mentions its initial development in 1957 in the United States Department of Defence (DOD) and gives a detailed account of revisions, which the WBS has gone through since that time. It also delves on the fact that the WBS has currently absorbed in the private sector and it hails as one of the most effective ways, in which corporate projects are implemented. There is also a brief discussion of improvements that the WBS has gone through.

There also various software used in the process of creation of a Work Breakdown Structure. The use of software has always helped project managers improve efficiency. There is the following software: Microsoft Project, WBS Chart Pro and Matchware MindView. For example, Microsoft Project is a project management software program. It is built and sold by Microsoft. The aim of its creation is to help project managers in coming up with a plan, allocating resources to tasks, monitoring progress, analyzing workloads and managing a budget. Work Breakdown Structure is one of the basic tools present in this application.

The backbone of this paper is how to build an effective Work Breakdown Structure, its implementation and benefits of implementing. The process of developing a work breakdown structure requires a detailed analysis of a project carried out into a particular activity. The success of building an effective Work Breakdown Structure depends on the utilization of interdisciplinary knowledge so as to create an adequate Work Breakdown Structure. This is to ensure that the Work Breakdown Structure that has been developed suits the given project. In the process of creating the Work Breakdown Structure various concepts guiding outlines of a particular project are utilized. Various methodology varies depending on whether a particular Work Breakdown Structure is a verb or a noun Work Breakdown Structure.

A well-developed Work Breakdown Structure, in project management and engineering system, is used to describe and cluster project’s characteristic work elements in a manner that helps to organize and define the work extent. A well-developed Work Breakdown Structure provides a particular group with certain benefits. These benefits include: motivation, which implies the fact that Work Breakdown Structures push a  team to develop detailed steps on carrying out various activities, lay grounds for a budget,ensure accountability in a project and enable breeding of commitments.

The process of developing a Work Breakdown Structure is not very easy. The process faces many challenges, since it is time-consuming and may involve thousands of activities. However, its benefits outweigh challenges facing the Work Breakdown Structure. This is because a good work breakdown structure ensures planning, budgeting and accountability throughout a project.

Introduction to the Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure refers to a well-outlined and procedural hierarchical structure utilized for breaking down complex projects into individual components. It is aimed at simplifying complex projects.

The Work Breakdown Structure defines activities that can be completed in a project independently. It also defines activities that can be completed jointly within a planned project. It contributes so much to the success of any given project. Its creation will always help to ensure that project’s objectives and outcomes are delivered (Lambert, 2009).

Significance of the Work Breakdown Structure

The WBS is very integral to the overall success of any project. Thus, a component or a full project failure can often be caused by a non- existent WBS or a poorly developed one. A poorly constructed  WBS can result in adverse project outcomes. These outcomes may include: repeated project, re-plans and extensions, unclear work assignments, frequently changing scope, missed deadlines, budget overrun and unusable new products or delivered features (O'Flaherty, 1971).

The WBS also helps to define and organise the scope of the total project. This is usually done using a hierarchical tree structure. The structure helps to break project’s deliverables or objectives down to more specific and measurable chunks. (Lambert, 2009).

Besides, the WBS helps to assign responsibilities, allocate resources, monitor and control a project. It makes objectives more specific and real and enables a project team to know exactly what has to be done within each deliverable. This also leads to better estimation of costs, risk and time. This is because a project team can work back up to the level of the whole project from smaller tasks (Bachman, 2002).

Another reason why the WBS is integral is explained by the fact that it allows a project manager to double-check all specifics of deliverables with stakeholders and make sure there is nothing missed or overlapped. In summary, the WBS is important because it enables a project team to logically and proactively plan out a project to its completion, to collect necessary information for a project and to organize various tasks into manageable components for achieving project goals (Wysocki, 2011).  

The Work Breakdown Structure may be prearranged around simple projects or complex phases of the Project Life Cycle. Higher levels of tasks in complex projects usually get performed by set groups. The lowest level of hierarchy is often comprised of activities performed by individuals. However, the WBS does not emphasize activities of any particular individual in the implementation of a complex project. A project comprises various activities that require variously qualified personnel. In the utilization of the work breakdown system for various complex projects an approach is usually interdisciplinary (Bachman, 2002).

The subdivision of a complex project into its constituent parts promotes resource allocation and handing individual tasks. In the creation of a work progress system a lot of care should be taken to ensure a proper level of details. A very high level of details results in micromanagement of a complex project. On the other hand, if there are very scanty details of the tasks to be carried out, problems may arise concerning the execution and management of every task within a given complex project.

Large and complex projects are structured and understood by subdividing them into little pieces. This is done until they make a compilation of defined work responsibilities that include various numbers of errands. For example, a complex project worth $1,000,000,000 can be simplified into a lot of $50,000 smaller projects linked together. The Work Breakdown Structure is usually utilized in the process of organization and administration of project work (O'Flaherty, 1971).

In planning various projects, it is usually normal to find an individual for a moment snowed under and confused. However, this usually changes, when a developer begins to grasp fine details and reach even a small-sized project.  A particular feeling often results from an individual trying to put in mind the tasks that can be carried out by different individuals during a project.  The greatest importance of the Work Breakdown Structure is to breakdown  specific tasks in a manner, in which they can be organized logically. This helps to overcome the problem of overwhelming the leadership of project management. 

According to psychologists, the human brain normally handles a few activities at a go.  A complex project, which has thousands of errands, usually exceeds the human brain capacity. The utilization of the Work Breakdown Structure mainly operates under the principal of divide and rule to conquer the complexity of a project.  The Work Breakdown System helps to reduce thousands of complex tasks into pieces, on which we can understandably work without encountering any assimilation problems. Preparing and getting to know the Work Breakdown Structure for any particular project is very important for mastering the complexity of a project (Lambert, 2009).

Work Breakdown Structures are mainly used in the beginning of a project in the process of determining its scope, organizing its Gantt schedules and approximating project-related costs.  The Work Breakdown Structure is usually utilized throughout a project during its calendar and it is often the main conduit for the coverage of various project costs.  Carrying out large projects, the Work Breakdown Structures may be utilized all the way through a project. It can be used to identify and trace work groups and also to put in order data for various management requirements, such as Earned Value Management (EVM) reporting. Moreover, the WBS can be used to trace various deliverables to various activities of a project.

Components of the Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure has several components that are very essential for its completeness. These components include WBS Levels, WBS Dictionary and WBS Code numbers.

WBS Levels

Projects handled by various managers involve several activities. These activities that are to be performed are categorized into hierarchical levels. These levels are divided into upper and lower levels. Lower levels depict smaller activities that are to be performed to achieve the given objective, while upper levels depict major deliverables of a project. The size and the nature of a project always determine the number and the intricacy of WBS levels.

WBS Dictionary

WBS Dictionary is an important segment of the WBS. It gives further details about activities of each element in the WBS. It gives comprehensive information about the job to be done, activities, resources required, cost estimates and pact information for each element of the Work Breakdown Structure. Its role is to do away with any ambiguity related to  work.

WBS Code numbers

WBS code is an identifier that is unique for each element of the WBS. Since the WBS is subject to updating, a code number should be such to be easily expanded to contain any future re-evaluations of the WBS.

Visual illustration format

There are a number of ways, in which the WBS can be represented. This depends on the organization and the ease, with which a team uses a project. There are several formats for representing the WBS. These formats are described below.

  • Tree structure view: in a tree structure format the WBS is represented through a tree arrangement with each young element linked to a parent element using a line. The parent element is portrayed as a higher level, which is broken down into a child element.
  • Tabular view: tabular format columns of a table are used to represent a hierarchical structure of the WBS.
  • Outline view: outline format levels of indentation accompanied with a WBS code number for each element, which are used to depict the WBS.

Work Package

A work package is the lowest level of the Work Breakdown Structure component for each branch. It also consists of several schedules of activities. There are various problems that project managers encounter while developing a WBS. The main one is coming up with the right size for a work package.  If activities are loosely controlled, it shows that a work package is too big. Similarly, a work package that is too small requires a lot of efforts to manage. Project managers follow the 8/80 rule. This rule points out that the dimensions of a work group should not be greater than 80 hours and not be lesser than 1 hour (Heldman, 2011).

Misconceptions about the Work Breakdown Structure

There are several misconceptions of the Work Breakdown Structure. For example, it is misconceived that the WBS is a total listing of all work that will go into a project, however, it is not.  It is basically a tree to allow for the efficient delegation of responsibilities and labour that should be put into a project.

The other misconception is that the WBS is to be used for the purpose of personnel organization. This is seen, when the scope of a project is outlined in a manner that employee’s delegation is defined by the tree itself, however, it ought to flow from the tree. An organizational hierarchy chart other than the WBS should be used to define each group’s responsibility within a breakdown structure.

Another misconception is that the WBS is a plan or a schedule. This is not so, as it does not require any order or sequence for it to be created. It is basically a visual breakdown of objectives. Besides, the WBS contains a list of broken down deliverables. Therefore, it is not a list of specific tasks and activities used to reach deliverables.

Apart from misconceptions there are also various pitfalls associated with the Work Breakdown Structure. The WBS should not be too detailed. This causes the leadership to micromanage a project. The leadership does this by concentrating on minor details. This eventually slows down the process of project completion. So much detail is also difficult to manage (O'Flaherty, 1971).

It is always prudent to keep the WBS as simple as possible. This enables an individual not to be overwhelmed with the Work Breakdown Structure, because he or she goes overboard with the level of details required by a structure. It is also important to adhere to the 80-hour rule, meaning that no element of a project should exceed 80 hours of work per person assigned to a project. This is a good rule of a thumb that assists a project manager in knowing where and when to break a project element down into various sub-elements.

History of the Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure was initially developed in the United States Department of Defence (DOD) with the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). The PERT was introduced in 1957 by the U.S. Navy to support the development of its Polaris missile program. In its implementation  tasks were organised as product-oriented categories and the term “Work Breakdown Structure.’’ Although this term was not used anywhere.

It had been so until June 1962 that the term began to be used in the DOD. It was at that period, that the aerospace industry and NASA produced a document for the PERT system. This document described a WBS approach. The U.S. secretary of defence noted the affectivity of this approach and endorsed it for adoption by all services. This facilitated the development of the Work Breakdown Structure for Defence Materiel Items" (MIL-STD-881) in 1968. MIL-STD-881 was a military standard, which required the WBS to be used across the Department of Defence. Besides, MIL-STD-881 put in place top-level templates for common defence materiel items along with associated descriptions of their elements (Bachman, 2002).

This document has gone through several revisions. The latest revision was in 2011. Looking at the MIL-STD-881C, there are several defence material item categories, which include: Aircraft System WBS, Electronic System WBS, Missile System WBS, Ordnance System WBS, Sea System WBS, Space System WBS, Surface Vehicle System WBS, Unmanned Air Vehicle System WBS, Unmanned Maritime System WBS, Launch Vehicle System WBS and Automated Information System WBS.

The MIL-STD-881C also has common elements that it can be identified. These elements include: integration, assembly, test and checkout, systems engineering, program management, system test and evaluation, training, data, peculiar support equipment, common support equipment, operational and site activation, industrial facilities, initial spares and repair parts. The standard also includes additional common elements unique for Space Systems, Launch Vehicle Systems and Automated Information Systems.

These revisions brought about the use of the WBS in non-defence organizations. In fact, it was in 1987 that the Project Management Institute (PMI) documented its expansion into other organisations. It is worth while mentioning that this method of project management has considerably absorbed into a private sector and it hails as one of the most effective ways, in which corporate projects are implemented (O’Flaherty, 1971).


The WBS has gone through a lot of changes since its introduction in 1957.The initial WBS has generated several types with time. These include: a verb-oriented WBS, a noun- oriented WBS, a time-phased WBS, an organizational WBS, a geographical WBS,  a cost breakdown WBS and a profit-centre WBS (Bachman,2002).

A verb-oriented WBS is a task-oriented work breakdown structure. It shows actions that must be accomplished to achieve objectives of a project. The first word used in its elements is usually a verb. Examples include the following verbs: design, develop, optimize, transfer and test.

A noun-oriented WBS is a deliverable-oriented work breakdown structure. It shows both physical components that make up a deliverable. The first word used in its elements is a noun. These nouns include: automobile engine, antenna, module A, subsystem, etc. Sometimes, this WBS is referred to as a Product Breakdown Structure. This is because nouns are usually parts of a product.

 A time-phased WBS is a “time-phased” work breakdown structure. It is usually used for very long projects. Instead of breaking a project into tasks it breaks it into phases. In this kind of WBS only a near-term phase is planned in detail. Besides, a “rolling wave” approach is to be adopted.

There is also a lens, through which this classification can be looked at. It can be classified into a deliverable-oriented WBS and a process-cantered WBS. A deliverable-oriented WBS is built around the desired outcomes of a project.   On the other hand, a process-cantered WBS is similar to a deliverable-oriented WBS except that it is organized at the highest level by phases in a process rather than by deliverables.  The advantage of using the process-cantered WBS is that it encourages the addition of such process-required deliverables as System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) deliverables (Norman, 2008). 

Software used in the creation of a work-based structure

The creation of the Work Breakdown Structure has gone through tremendous changes since its inception. It has gone through the process of transition from manual to technical.

Currently, there are several software programs that could be used for the development of a WBS. Before considering some of them, it will be important to focus on the merits of their use. Their use improves efficiency. It saves a project manager from getting bogged down in paper work and, thus, it saves a lot of time. Efficiency is also improved in regard with preinstalled charts ready for use at a click of a button. It also eliminates both rework and errors that arise when translating information from one application or document into another.

Some software tools that are commonly used to create a Work Breakdown Structure include: Microsoft Project, WBS Chart Pro and Matchware MindView. Microsoft project is a project management software program. It is built and sold by Microsoft. It is aimed at helping project managers to elaborate a plan, allocate resources to tasks, monitore progress, analyze workloads and manage a budget. A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is one of the basic tools present in this application. Creating a WBS by means of MS Project 2007 helps an individual ensure external and internal channels of communication throughout the existence of a project.

WBS Chart Pro is a Windows- based project management software application. It is not only an add-on to Microsoft Project, but also a standalone planning program. It uses a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) chart to build and display projects. A WBS chart is a tree-styled diagram. It showcases a structure of a project and elaborates how a project is organized into phases. The use of these charts implies a more intuitive approach towards planning and displaying a project.

MindView is also a project management software tool. It is can be used by individuals, small teams and even large groups to develop such a concept as a WBS. MindView produces “Mind Maps®”, which can be employed in presentations, web sites and reports. These Mind Maps can be simple and small or complex and large (Kendrick, 2009). It also has a variety of exports to Microsoft® Office applications, such as Microsoft® Project, HTML and other formats. It presents a user with the capability to add calculation fields to track budget. It also has six interchangeable views and enables a user to design a WBS Structure in a left-to-right or top-down layout. This information can be transferred directly to the built-in Gantt chart.

It is illustrated below how Microsoft Project can be used to create a work breakdown structure. The methodology employed is a hierarchical approach. The steps taken in the hierarchical approach are as follows:

a) identify an ultimate objective of a mission. This entails a detailed evaluation of the project extent. In MS Project format, the forename of an ultimate objective is the Task Name field.

b) analyse closing deliverables that are to be formed to accomplish the objectives acknowledged in Step 1; enter the inventory of ultimate deliverables in the Task Name field; hollow out all sub-deliverables by means of a forward arrow key in the MS development. Now you will have an ultimate deliverable consisting of sub-deliverables in MS Project.

c) break down deliverables into smaller activities and keeping carrying out this effect till a certain level is attained (a work package), when a project administrator can have the power over and keep an eye on individual tasks. A project administrator should be vigilant to make certain that each one of work packages contains only a single deliverable. For every sub-deliverable there is a list of actions in MS Project. Repeat this procedure till you arrive at a work package level. Make sure that each level is indent. Indentation develops relationships between deliverables and its constituent sub-activities. Without any human interference in MS Project creates Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) codes in the sketch out Number field .This is based on a chart structure of each activity. The outlined numbers are transformed when the project administration moves the task to poles apart the level.

d) re-examine the whole Work Breakdown Structure after a careful brainstorming conference with a project team and other key stakeholders. The main goal is to achieve an agreement on the viability of  project planning success. A team processes putting into effect the aims of success of your project.

e) a hierarchical technique for developing a work breakdown structure is characteristically utilized when both a project administrator and  a project group do not have sufficient know-how for developing the Work Breakdown Structure, or project requirements are not thoroughly understood. This method enables a project manager and a team to gradually get involved in the Work Breakdown Structure after a few meetings and brainstorming sessions.

WBS Integration in the Project Schedule

The Work Breakdown Structure is basic for most project management activities. It avails an important input for outlay estimation, development and the evaluation of improvement achieved by a project.

There is a need to put in more knowhow to a cavernous tree-structure of the WBS that one has already created. This enables an individual to put together the WBS in a mission timetable by means of MS Project. The integral information to be added includes:

a) Duration: there is a need to specify the whole time compulsory for absolutely each task in the WBS.

b) Task Dependencies: there is also a need to specify relationships between tasks. A dependency must be established by using a set of connections in a diagram analysis through scheduling a phase.

c) Constraints: limitations for each task are also to be specified. These limitations are instituted in the calendar analysis chapter.

d) Task Starting Date and  Finishing Date: MS Project involuntarily calculates Task Starting and Finishing Dates, when the duration of each task has been mentioned.

e) Resource Names: it is also imperative to specify a resource. This can be done by clicking the Assign Resources button.

It is important to add the WBS dictionary while integrating the Work Breakdown Structure in a mission plan. This dictionary assists in combining various project administration processes with a project scope. It also serves as an invaluable tool for illustrating specific mission desires in terms of a range of work, milestones, prices etc.

A well-defined WBS can be a great contributing factor to ensuring project’s success. It acts as a major integrating tool between different project management processes. It is also taken to be the basis of a project.

Developing a Work Breakdown Structure

The process of developing a Work Breakdown Structure requires prior knowledge of a scope of a particular project .This is to ensure that the final Work Breakdown Structure fits the given project. However, the development of a Work Breakdown Structure varies depending on a project type. There are the following types of work breakdown structures:

a) Verb-Oriented Work Breakdown Structure: this usually refers to a work breakdown structure that is work-oriented. This Work Breakdown Structure gives a particular job description with various deliverable errands of project work. The first term in any given work breakdown structure is usually a doing word, such as, to plan, to expand and to optimize.

b) Noun-Oriented Work Breakdown Structure: This refers to a deliverable-oriented work breakdown structure that defines a mission of work in terms of particular workings (whether they physical or functional that make up a deliverable). The first term in any given Work Breakdown Structure is a noun, such as, Module A, Automobile Engine and Antenna. Since particular terms reflect the parts of the given product this Work Breakdown Structure is also referred to as a Product Breakdown Structure (PBS). Deliverable-oriented WBS structures are usually favoured types of the Work Breakdown Structure among many individuals carrying out projects.

c) Time-Phased Work Breakdown Structure: this refers to a time-phased work breakdown structure used for long-term projects. Utilizing this Work Breakdown Structure requires a project to be broken down into important phases rather than tasks. In the Time-Phased Work Breakdown Structure a particular approach called a “rolling wave” approach is utilized and only the nearest phase is planned in extreme details.

d) Organizational Breakdown Structure is a hierarchical breakdown structure that describes well-known institutional structures for the purpose of planning projects, managing available  resources, tracking time and expenses, allocating costs, reporting profit levels and managing project activities

This Work Breakdown Structure puts into consideration all elements of projects in a planned manner. It breaks down large multifaceted projects into smaller and easier project pieces, which facilitate the provision of a better outline for planning and overseeing contemporary and potential projects. This enables the allocation of resources. The Organizational Breakdown Structure defines responsibilities of project management, cost coverage, billing, financial budgeting and mission organization. The OBS avails a directorial viewpoint of a project rather than a task-based one.

The hierarchical organization of the Organizational Breakdown Structure permits putting together the knowhow in a mission to enable the achievement of higher levels of project standards. When ventured tasks are definite and actions are assigned, the OBS provides the likelihood for great analytics. This makes it possible to determine a venture and personnel recital at a high level (Lambert, 2009).

To build up an Organization Breakdown Structure one has to consider a hierarchy, make good definitions of departments and project teams and specifications of various sectors of a project. The Organizational Breakdown Structure of a company is illustrated in the following example below (Project Management Institute, 2006):

Other types of Work Breakdown Structures include a geographical WBS, a cost breakdown WBS and a profit-centre WBS.

The development of a suitable Work Breakdown Structure depends on a project type. However, there are various guiding principles. These include: the 100% rule; the 40-hour rule of decomposition and the 4% rule of decomposition.

The 100% rule

The 100% rule is among the most significant work breakdown structure design principles. It states that the Work Breakdown Structure constitutes 100% of efforts defined by the scheme span and involves all deliverables in stipulations of work to be finished  and project supervision. The 100% rule is the most important believe guiding the development, analysis and evaluation of the WBS. The rule is utilized at all levels inside a pecking order. The total amount of labour at the beginner’s level is equal to 100% of efforts represented at the final level. The WBS also ought not to consist of whichever work falling outside a definite range of development, meaning that it cannot exceed 100% of vocation. The 100% rule is also applicable to activity levels. Vocation represented in project actions in a work package should sum up 100% of work.  

The most suitable way to hold on to the 100% rule is to make a clear definition of various Work Breakdown Structures in terms of their results. The inclusion of any action-oriented detail in the WBS may limit the number of actions. Very few actions captured by an action-oriented Work Breakdown Structure will go below 100% of the project scope. In order to adhere to the 100% rule one has to define work breakdown system basics in terms of their outcomes. This also limits a work breakdown structure to such an extent that it does not become excessive authoritarian of methods, allowing for greater resourcefulness and creative thinking by project participants. When there are new projects, the most widespread practice to give surety to an outcome-oriented WBS is to use a product breakdown structure (PBS). 

Some feature-driven software projects may use related procedures aimed at utilizing attribute breakdown structures. When various projects present professional services, a similar procedure is to confine all premeditated deliverables to generate a result-oriented work breakdown structure. The WBS that divides work by mission phases should ensure all phases are clearly separated by a well-designed review document.

In the process of developing a work breakdown structure, the second level is the most vital, because it determines how tangible costs and programme data are grouped in an upcoming project outlay and programme approximations. A project executive considers something to be important, when he discovers the costs utilized for designing a product after its completion .This is to ensure that data can be used for prospect equivalence estimating. The Work Breakdown Structure should have the following features.

a) a well-defined scope of efforts in a project;

b) the start and completion dates for the reach of particular projects;

c) a well-rayed down budget for a scale of work.

d)  the names of individuals conscientious for the reach of projects.

The use of the work breakdown structure enables a project administrator to approach complex projects into manageable portions, which results in less confusion in a process. Successful implementation of any given project depends on the capacity of professionals to break large activities down into smaller controllable projects. This breakdown of large projects into smaller projects is referred to as a work breakdown structure.

WBS updates require a formal control of changes. This is another reason why the WBS should be outcome-oriented and not be prescriptive of methods. Methods change frequently, but changes in planned outcomes require a higher degree of formality. If outcomes and actions are blended, control of changes may be too rigid for actions and too informal for outcomes (Richman, 2002).

In the implementation of the 100% rule, the definition of work breakdown structures in terms of results is very appropriate. Any product-oriented work breakdown structure is the most efficient one for any project. This ensures that product production is not plagued by inconveniences. When utilizing the 100% rule, there should be keen observation to prevent work breakdown structures from overlapping.

Using this rule the WBS decomposes work into work packages to ensure costs and a work schedule for work, which can reliably be estimated. A satisfactory boundary is often established in the concept of progressive elaboration .This concept allows Work Breakdown Structure information to be thoroughly refined before work begins on various stages of a project.

In the process of subdividing tasks in the Work Breakdown Structure, the extent of subdivision should be reached when the process of defining project’s premeditated goals is not quite possible. In various projects progressive elaboration is aimed at establishing regular time schedules, which facilitate the progressive evaluation of a project. For large projects one of the forms of progressive elaboration is used, which is called “rolling wave planning”. In the process of developing a work breakdown structure the following rule is utilized for determining the level of subdivision of activities in a project.                                                                                 

The 40-Hour Rule of Decomposition

According to this rule, in the process of breaking down, a particular assignment should reach a level, at which the amount of direct labour hours is 40. This is based on the 40 hour weekly rate in most organizations. This enables the WBS to prevent creating bigger problems of management. This is because too much subdivision results in a need for many administrators to oversee various activities, which may cause inflated costs of various projects.

Another guiding rule towards breaking down of project activities is the 4% rule of decomposition.

The 4% Rule of Decomposition

According to this rule the breakdown of activities by the Work Breakdown Structure should be to the extent of 4% of the total project. For example, if a project has a 30-week schedule the lowest element should be about one and a half a week. What concerns costs, if a project costs $3 million, then according to the 4% rule the lowest element should be around $120k.

Identification Numbering

In the development of a work breakdown structure it is common to number elements sequentially to reveal a pecking order of project structure. For example 1.3.4 Rear Wheel shows this item as an item found in Level 3 of the Work Breakdown Structure. This is easily defined, since there are three separated numbers. A coding system is of great importance, since it helps the WBS be easily recognized in any written material. There is an example of project utilizing the 100% rule, which enables a collaborative technique to build a lot of  imminence into capacity definitions, essential assumptions, and agreements on the subject of the extent of subdivisions, which is shown below:

PROJECT 1258 (100%) 1258.1.1 Rent description (7%) 1228.1.2 policies (5%) 1258.1.3 preparation (5%) 1258.1.4 Mon & Control (5%) 1258.2.1 theoretical plan (5%) 1258.2.2 introduction plan (5%) 1258.2.3 Final plan (5%) 1258.3.1 general manufacturing (7%) 1258.3.2 automatic Engineering (5%) 1258.3.3 Electrical Engineering (3%) 1258.3.4 System Engineering (5%) 1258.4.1 underpinning (7%) 1258.4.2 Structures (5%) 1258.4.3 Roads (5%) 1258.4.4 background (3%) 1258.5.1 well-being preparation (4%) 1258.5.2 well-being credentials (4%) 1258.5.3 inspections (4%) 1258.1.6 shut out (3%) 1258.1.5 procurement administration (8%) 1258.1.0 system Integration. (33%) 1258.2.0 Design (15%) 1258.3.0 production (20%) 1267.4.0 Construction (20%) 1258.5.0 Safety (12%).

According to the 100% rule the total sum of elements subdivided by the work breakdown structure equates to 100%. This breakdown of the complex project into simple elements has greatly improved efficiency levels. It goes a long way into ensuring the success of the project (Project Management Institute, 2006).

Terminal activity

A terminal activity is the least possible element or deliverable in a work breakdown structure setting, which is not further broken down. Terminal activities refer to items that are estimated according to resource requirements and duration, and linked by dependencies and programmes. At the point in time, a WBS element and a business unit have the power over established and planned accounts and work activities. The following example shows terminal activities in the bicycle manufacturing industry.

In this example the diagram above illustrates a Work Breakdown Structure utilizing the 100% rule and the progressive amplification method, which show that the scope of the project at all levels of activities is 100%. At the second level of the project of creating a custom-made bicycle shows cost allocation avenues, but does not show work duration. At the next level the largest parts of the second section utilizing 17% of the total scope are further subdivided using the progressive elaboration technique. This clearly outlines outcomes of the project showing specific contributions of elements in the given project. The WBS devise is capable of being supported by such software tool as a spreadsheet to allow mechanical progressing up to end values. Estimates of attempts or costs are capable of being developed during negotiations among mission team members. This concerted modus operandi builds superior insight into the span of definitions, fundamental assumptions and compromises on the subject of a class of implication necessary for managing the assignment (Bachman, 1994).


The creation of a Work Breakdown Structure requires the final stage of implementation to test its possibility of working towards achieving the goals of a project or evaluating a structure. Work Breakdown Structures are implemented in various organizations to simplify the achievement of particular projects. Work Breakdown Structures assist in achieving set success in a particular project and help to determine a project. There is the following example of utilizing the Work Breakdown Structure described below.

Control systems engineering is an engineering field that utilizes control presumption to create systems with conventional trends. Training utilizes sensors to gauge the productivity of devices being directed industrial machines and those dimensions are used to grant pointers to participation actuators that can be utilized to make corrections directing an activity towards desired routine. When an apparatus is premeditated to carry out activities without human inputs for modification, it is called mechanical control similar to cruise control for determining the speed of vehicles. Multi-disciplinary organizational system engineering actions carry out control of systems derived from arithmetical models of systems of a dissimilar scope (Project Management Institute, 2006).

Control Theory

There are two main divisions of the theory, namely conventional and contemporary. They encompass unswerving implications above control manufacturing applications. The reach of conventional rule conjecture is restricted to single-input and single-output (SISO) organizational inventions (Dow, 2010). The examination of classification is voted for in the time domain using a degree of difference equations in the complex-s sphere of influence by means of Laplace conversions or in a rate of reappearance sphere of influence by transforming the complex-s sphere of influence. All project systems are thought to be in subsequent order and solitary variable, when higher-order coordination responses and multivariable belongings are ignored. A controller design project is elaborated on the basis of the use of conventional theories, which usually require evaluation of tuning caused by variations in design approximations. The ease of physical execution of a conventional regulator design in comparison with system premeditation using contemporary organizational theories is explained by the fact that these controllers are favoured in most manufacturing applications. The most widespread controller premeditated classical organizational theory is PID controllers. A control theory utilizes a work breakdown structure to ensure whether the performance of resultant equipment meets specific requirements of production projects (Haugan, 2008).

Control engineering is an engineering subject that focuses on the projects of modelling the assorted collection of machine systems and creating controllers that make these systems conduct themselves in a necessary manner. Creating this machine equipment, project administrators require the utilization of work breakdown structures, which enable the effectiveness of  projects. Electrical digital signal processors are examples of control systems utilized for control, which can be used to implement control theories. However, control sysems require subdivision of projects into deliverable activities, which ensure that control systems work effectively. Control manufacturing has an extensive scope of application from air travel and thrust systems of business-related airliners to motor control in many modern automobiles (Bachman, 1994).

In most cases, control engineers utilize reaction in the process of developing various control systems. This is often achieved by means of the PID organizer method. For example, in a motor with motor control, a vehicle's pace is constantly monitored and fed reversed to the system, which regulates vehicle’s torque consequently. In this system engineers have utilized work breakdown systems, which are breakdown component feedback systems, such as stability systems, which utilize a combination of various equipments. The utilization of Work Breakdown Structures in various technologies influences a response to various project activities.  This enables all system activities have an easy follow-up system. For example, in many types of equipment, a diagnosis of problems can easily be achieved. Although a response is a vital characteristic of control work, management engineers require a method to get a feedback in order to facilitate a diagnosis of machines. An open-loop control system becomes possible, since activities have a work breakdown system, which enables keen analysis in the whole project. An archetypal exemplar of open-loop control is a washing machine that uses various techniques without sensors (Project Management Institute, 2006).

In the process of implementation of the Work Breakdown Structure of, there are various factors to be considered by administrators, since they influence the process of implementation. These are as follows:

a) Resource Acquisition: before the process of implementing the Work Breakdown Structure, the right amount of resources is required to ensure that a project does not stall midway leading to an increase in the production cost or the deliverable cost. Various methods of acquiring a resource should be efficient to ensure that the Work Breakdown Structure is efficiently utilized.

b) Resource Flow: in the process of implementing work it is vital to deal with the surge of resources. An idea behind this is to make sure that possessions are accessible at suitable levels in desired places at any obligatory time. Consequently the flow of resources is to be administered in terms of magnitude, location and time. If the use of resources is maximized, the risk for administration process is connected with producing the best possible output.

c) Resource management: resource management implementation of the Work Breakdown Structure requires proper allocation of resources to ensure that it is very effective. A failure to manage resources results in a poor work breakdown structure.

During the implementation of the Work Breakdown Structure, the process of risk management is very vital to make sure that an arrangement stays current and well-organized. Regular reviews of the Work Breakdown Structure help to find out whether a plan provides reasonable and successful menace alleviation actions assigned to various persons accountable for accomplishment of the process of performance (Verzuh, 2011).

During the course of action, a risk classification should be carried out to take a varying state of affairs into contemplation, when responding to risks. Thus, the Work Breakdown Structure should recognize responsibilities of people in a project.


To sum it up, a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is insensible as far as project management is concerned. It could be termed as a foundational building block of project management. The WBS can break or make a project. It acts as a foundation for the rest of project planning. A good WBS helps to ensure proper project baselines, scheduling, analysis of the risk of using resources, estimating and procurement (Bachman, 1994).

The discussion above has given a conclusive introduction to the Work Breakdown Structure. It has also depicted wholly software utilized for the creation of a WBS. It is is worth while noting common pitfalls or misconceptions about this WBS.

The knowledge regarding these pitfalls in the process of creating a WBS,  enables a projects manager to outmanoeuvre an evident forthcoming failure. This makes it possible for them to be successful at creating a useful and accurate Work Breakdown Structure. Every project manager should always be on the out to avoid these pitfalls. For example, a manager should watch not to go into details. This usually makes a manager micromanage a project and slow down project progress. A manager should not use the WBS as a replacement for a project plan or a schedule. This is because the WBS is just a visual breakdown of objectives and it is not to be created in any type of sequence. Lastly, the WBS should not be used to serve a role of an organisational hierarchy chart.

A successful project ultimately depends on its Work Breakdown Structure.

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