Plan Development - Task Identification and Work Breakdown Structure

Plan Development - Task Identification and Work Breakdown Structure
ProjectConnections.com Guideline
Plan and Schedule Development – Create WBS
INTRODUCTION: Plan and Schedule Development –
Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
The detailed guidelines and examples start on the following page.
What This Is
First of a series of guidelines for project plan and schedule development. This guideline covers the steps
for developing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to identify all the activities that must be executed
to fulfill the objectives of the project. Several WBS examples are provided.
Content in this guideline was contributed by:
ProjectConnections staff, IPSolutions - www.ipsassociates.com, and ICS Group www.icsgrp.com
Why It’s Useful
A key to successful project scheduling is to identify all the work of the project before you consider delivery
dates and resource constraints. This helps a team objectively identify everything that needs to be done
without subconsciously leaving out real work in order to fit pre-determined dates.
The WBS step helps accomplish the following key objectives:
 Develops an objective, rational view of the amount of work required.
 Provides a basis for next identifying the skills and resources required for the project.
 Provides a framework for clearly defining pieces of the work and delegating responsibility.
 Lays a foundation for analyzing dependencies and for isolating and managing risks.
 Lays a foundation for developing a bottom-up estimate for the project schedule.
How to Use It
1. Review the overview and steps for creating a Work Breakdown Structure starting on the next page.
2. Identify how team members will be involved in creating the WBS and educate them on their role. The
primary objective is to get all of the team participants to contribute to the definition of the work.
3. Decide how you’ll record the items in your WBS (e.g., worksheet, spreadsheet, scheduling tool). See
the table on the last page of this file for one example of a worksheet. This format can be carried
forward into the next few steps of scheduling to systematically build the pieces of the schedule
(resource assignments, estimates, etc.) onto the foundation of the WBS items.
4. Determine an appropriate organization for your WBS and begin identifying major work efforts. See the
detailed guidelines that begin on the following page for ways your WBS can be organized.
5. Break the top level of your WBS further into a hierarchical set of activities. Use the guidelines starting
on the next page to decide how far your WBS must be broken down to ensure that you’ve defined
enough detail for scheduling your project.
6. The WBS is the basis for all the next steps in the planning and scheduling process.
The guideline and template content for creating a WBS starts on the following page.
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ProjectConnections.com Guideline
Plan and Schedule Development – Create WBS
Plan and Schedule Development – Create a Work Breakdown Structure
Overview of WBS Creation
The WBS is the first step in developing a detailed work plan for the project. It bridges from the early
Scope definition to creation of a detailed project schedule.
1) Start with the Scope
Defines at the highest level what must be created and delivered to the project’s
customers to satisfy the objectives of the project.
2) Create the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
A top-down hierarchical description of the work required to produce what is
called for in the Project Scope and achieve the mission, satisfy stakeholders.
• Provides approach for ‘decomposing’ the work into measurable units, which
allows easier and more accurate estimates of duration, needed resources,
and time required.
• Helps ensure that the scope is completely defined and the team has not
forgotten any work.
• Allows breakdown of work to deliverables and activities that can be assigned
to an owner.
3) Based on the WBS, develop the Project Schedule
Created by adding resource assignments, identifying dependencies among
activities and tasks, and estimating work effort for all items in the WBS.
Overview of the Work Breakdown Process: From the Top Down
Use the following top-down approach to iteratively create your WBS:
1. Identify the major components of work to be accomplished.
Identify 5-10 major work groups to form the top level of your WBS. Select these based on the best
way to organize the work for this project given the project complexity, how the work is spread across
your organization, and how the work will be tracked and managed. Here are seven possible
approaches for your overall WBS organization. (Reference: Effective Project Management, Wysoki et
al, pg. 120)
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Plan and Schedule Development – Create WBS
Noun-Type
Physical Decomposition – The pieces of a product
Functional Decomposition – Areas of system functionality
Verb-Type
Design-Build-Test-Implement – Methodology or lifecycle phase focus
Objectives – Senior management or customer focus on reporting to deliverables
Others
Geographical – Coordination and communication focus across locations
Business Function – Focus on business process with integration complications
Departmental – Focus on organizational control of one manager
2. Identify the next level of work (Level 2) under each major component and list them under their
top-level groups. This can be done with indented lists or graphically in an organization chart.
Level 1
Level 1
Level 2-1
Level 2-2
Level 2
Level 2
Level 3-1
Level 3-2
Level 3-3
Level 3
Indented List
Level 3
Level 3
Graphical Chart
3. Continue to break down the work under each Level 2 item.
Break down to the level of activity detail. Continue until the top-level components are broken down far
enough to identify all the work that needs to get done. Details under some may break into three or
four levels. Others may require no more detail, or only one additional level. Further guidelines for
WBS completeness are given later in this file.
Examples and Definitions of Typical WBS Levels
This section contains material contributed by ICS Group www.icsgrp.com
The following is one possible work breakdown approach starting with project lifecycle phases at Level 1,
major deliverables of each phase as Level 2, and the activities and tasks to create each deliverable.
Phases
Identify major phases of work (e.g. specify, design, build, test…)
Major Project
Deliverables
Identify the major component deliverables of work required (e.g.,
subsystems that must be designed, built, tested, during each phase.)
Activities
[Activities]
Identify the activities needed to create those deliverables. (Some
interim, smaller deliverables such as documents may be involved.)
Some WBSs will have multiple levels of activities to break the work
down to an appropriate level of detail.
Break the activities down to an appropriate level of task detail.
Tasks
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Plan and Schedule Development – Create WBS
Level 1 – Phases: A project plan, or schedule, is made up of the deliverables and milestones of the
project, and depending on the level of detail required, the activities/tasks. Typically, this information can
be organized into a number of natural groupings. In project planning, each group is called a phase and a
name is given to it for ease of communication and reporting.
Level 2 – Deliverables: Deliverables are the clearly defined and recognizable results or tangible work
products of successfully completed activities performed during the project. They appear in the past tense,
to represent the completed activity and the accomplished result.
“Receivables” should also be included. They are deliverables owed to the project by others outside of the
project (usually other project teams), and upon which the project is dependent.
Levels 3 and 4+ – Activities & Tasks: Each phase of a project is composed of a number of major
activities that will lead to achieving one or more deliverables. Activities may be broken into a smaller set
of activities at the next level in the WBS, which is typical in larger projects.
The bottom-level activities in a WBS may break down further into very detailed tasks that express the
smallest pieces of work needed to complete the activity and produce the deliverable or output of that
activity. NOTE: Project management standards call for WBSs to be created to the activity level, with very
detailed tasks NOT listed in the WBS but instead left as lower-level detail to be handled by the owner of
each activity. In practice, the terms “activity” and “task” may be used interchangeably. No matter what the
terminology, what matters is getting the WBS to the right level of detail for accurate planning and tracking.
The lowest-level items in the WBS form the schedule used by the project manager and team to estimate
the project work and costs, then later track project progress. By definition, then, the WBS must be broken
down far enough to yield accurate work and cost estimates and accurate measures of progress.
See the WBS Completion Criteria Checklist later in this file for how to test the bottom level of your WBS to
ensure you’ve broken the work down far enough.
The brief WBS excerpt on the next page illustrates the Phase-Deliverable-Activity breakdown.
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ProjectConnections.com Guideline
Plan and Schedule Development – Create WBS
Example: WBS Excerpt for Creating a Promotional DVD
CONCEPT
(Phase)
(Detailed deliverables and activities here)
DESIGN
(Phase)
(Detailed deliverables and activities here)
This section of the WBS broken out to activity detail:
PROTOTYPE AND TEST DVD
(Phase)
DVD Prototype
(Deliverable)
Develop Video
(Activity)
Shoot sections
Review video
Edit video sections
Edit video – full sequence
Develop Narrative
(Activity)
Write narrative text
Review and update text
Record voice-over narrative
Review prototype DVD
(Activity)
Update prototype DVD
(Activity)
Tested DVD
(Deliverable)
(Detailed activities go here)
SELECT VENDOR
(Phase)
DVD Fulfillment Vendor commitment
(Deliverable)
Research options
(Activity)
Define selection criteria
Identify potential vendors
Select and sign vendor
(Activity)
Send requirements to fulfillment houses
Get quotes and sample contracts
Decide fulfillment house
Sign contract
PRODUCE AND SEND
DVD First-Article for QA
(Activity detail here)
DVD First Mailing Out
(Activity detail here)
(Phase)
(Deliverable)
(Activity)
(Deliverable)
(Activity)
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ProjectConnections.com Guideline
Plan and Schedule Development – Create WBS
How to Engage the Team in Creating the WBS
This is a team process and should not be done by the Project Manager alone.
Plan to engage the project team to analyze and break down the work into a sequence of deliverables and
activities until the detail defines a project that can be accurately scheduled and managed.
Here is a suggested process:
1) The Project Manager can propose what the top level of the WBS should be.
2) Call a core team meeting to review the suggested top level of the WBS and define the next level of
detail. In the meeting, agree on the top level of the WBS and brainstorm a list of items to include at
Level 2 (e.g. deliverables that would show up for each major phase).
3) Work collaboratively in the meeting to identify subsequent levels of WBS detail, by drafting WBS
activities and tasks onto a whiteboard or flipchart paper on the walls, or by writing deliverables and
activities on sticky notes and sticking them to the whiteboard or wall underneath the appropriate toplevel section of the WBS.
4) Have individual team members thoroughly consider their own work to identify potential missing
items, covering everything they are involved in during the project including ‘secondary work’ such as
reviews, through the entire project timeline.
5) Draft early plans for particular major activities to help think through lower-level activities that
might need to show up in the WBS. For example, write preliminary plans to help break down later
cross-functional efforts such as documentation, manufacturing, testing, etc.
6) Create a “WBS dictionary” entry—descriptions of each activity in the WBS, including explicit
deliverable(s) from that activity—to ensure clarity.
7) Publish a draft WBS to team members and others to sanity check the contents, including the
activity descriptions, and identify additional work.
Ultimately the WBS should take into account information from many sources:

other team members

other project managers who have done similar work

previous project reviews

other appropriate groups

expert opinion

existing WBS templates
8) Get the feedback and incorporate it into the WBS.
9) Review the updated WBS with the team and determine whether the items in the WBS meet the
thoroughness checks and completion criteria on the next pages.
10) Update the WBS and evolve it as necessary as activity owners do the next steps of planning,
including assigning resources and estimating work, and the team identifies dependencies and builds
the integrated schedule.
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ProjectConnections.com Guideline
Plan and Schedule Development – Create WBS
How Far to Go: How Much Detail Is Enough?
The ultimate goal in breaking the work down is to ensure
that all of the work needed to meet the project’s objectives
is recognized and planned for as accurately as possible from the beginning.
WBS detail levels vary based on the size and complexity of the project. Greater levels of detail are
generally required for projects that are:

larger

more risky

dissimilar to past projects

difficult to define (susceptible to change)

performed by internal work groups

planned for the near future
The WBS will continue to be updated during the Plan and Schedule development process. Generally, as
the process goes forward, additional work may come to light and need to be incorporated into the WBS.
(In fact, it’s a good sign if forgotten work is discovered—it means people are thinking through the project
thoroughly.)
Systematically Checking the WBS for Completeness
The WBS Completion Checklist on the following page will help the team validate whether their WBS forms
a sound basis for the project’s schedule going forward.
In addition, the team can take a systematic approach to reviewing the WBS together to ensure nothing
has been missed:
Consider your project scope. (Use the Project Charter, Vision document, whatever expresses
the full scope of your project.)
•
Does this WBS express all the work to meet every aspect of the Scope of this project?
•
If not, what additional WBS section and activities are needed to fulfill the Scope?
Consider the stakeholders of this project—those who are affected by (“have a stake in”) the
outcome.
•
Does this WBS express all the activities related to needs and concerns of the stakeholders?
•
What additional WBS elements needed to work with and satisfy particular stakeholders?
Consider “project influencers”—those who can have a positive or negative impact on the
project.
•
Does this WBS express all the activities related to needs and concerns of the project
influencers?
•
What additional WBS elements needed to work with and satisfy particular influencers?
Look at the Team Roles and Responsibilities List, Responsibility Allocation Matrix, or any
other team definition documents:
•
Are the activities for all cross-functional groups currently on the team included the WBS?
•
Are we sure we’ve involved all necessary groups and the WBS expresses their work?
•
What group’s work is missing and what needs to be added?
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ProjectConnections.com Guideline
Plan and Schedule Development – Create WBS
WBS Completion Checklist
Appropriate level of detail: Continue to break the work down until the resulting WBS list
meets the following criteria:

One (and only one) owner can be assigned to each of the lowest level activities.

Clearly defined outputs (deliverables) are obvious for each activity.

Quality can be monitored through completion criteria for each activity and/or its
deliverable.

The work listed at one level 100% defines the work needed to accomplish the activity at
the level above it in the WBS.

The activities communicate the work to be accomplished to the person who is
accountable.

The likelihood that an activity is omitted or workflow forgotten is minimized.

Each activity is well defined and small enough so that estimates of work effort and
duration are credible. Work effort or duration at lowest level should be less than 5% of
the total project, to ensure visibility into progress, at a small enough resolution to
recognize quickly if the project is off track.

The project is broken down to the level at which you want to track progress.
No forgotten work: Project delays are often caused by forgotten work rather than
inaccurate estimates. Ensure you have included items for the following:

planning the project

approval cycles

key project meetings

management/customer interfaces

quality inspections/fixing defects

training

management

test planning, development & execution

project reviews and project closing
See the following pages for several examples of Work Breakdown Structures.
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ProjectConnections.com Guideline
Plan and Schedule Development – Create WBS
Additional WBS Examples
The following WBS examples illustrate using the top-down breakdown approach for several different
project types. See also other, separate WBS examples on the site.
Example: WBS for Building a House (Indented List Format)
(ref: Effective Project Management, Wysoki et al, pg. 120)
I.
SITE PREPARATION
A.
Layout
B.
Grading
C.
Excavation
II.
FOUNDATION
A.
Erect Forms
B.
Pour Concrete
C.
Remove Forms
Ill.
IV.
FRAMING
A.
Floor Joists
1. Install first-floor floor joists
2. Install second-floor floor joists
B.
Sub-flooring
1
Install first-floor sub-flooring
2. Install second-floor sub-flooring
C.
Stud Walls
1. Erect first-floor stud walls
2. Erect second-floor stud walls
D.
Frame Roof
V.
WALLS
A.
Hang sheetrock
B.
Tape and bed
VI.
ROOFING
A.
Install sheathing
B.
Lay shingles
VII. FINISH WORK
A.
Interior
1. Install cabinets
2. Install appliances
3. Install furnace
4. Lay carpet
5. Paint walls and molding
6. Hang wallpaper
7. Lay tile
VIII. LANDSCAPING
UTILITIES
A.
Electrical
1. Rough In
2. Building inspection
3. Finish work
B.
Plumbing
1. Rough in
2. Building inspection
3. Finish work
C.
Gas
1. Rough in
2. Building inspection
3. Finish work
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ProjectConnections.com Template
Plan and Schedule Development: Create WBS
Example: Website Development WBS
1.
Website Project
1.1. Design
1.1.1. Web User Interface
1.1.1.1. Functional Specifications
1.1.1.1.1.
Create User Interface Mock-ups
1.1.1.1.2.
Conduct Design Review
1.1.1.1.3.
Deliver Final Functional Specs
1.1.1.1.4.
Obtain User Signoff
1.1.1.2. Technical Specifications
1.1.1.2.1.
Develop Tech Specs
1.1.1.2.2.
Review Tech Specs with Project Team
1.1.1.2.3.
Obtain Team Signoff
1.1.2. SQL Database
1.1.2.1. Technical Specifications
1.1.2.1.1.
Develop Tech Specs
1.1.2.1.2.
Review Tech Specs with Project Team
1.1.2.1.3.
Obtain Team Signoff
1.1.3. Interfaces
1.1.3.1. Technical Specifications
1.1.3.1.1.
Determine data import/export elements
1.1.3.1.1.1. Define User needs
1.1.3.1.1.2. Define IT needs
1.1.3.1.2.
Design interfaces
1.1.3.1.3.
Obtain Team Signoff
1.1.4. Reports
1.1.4.1. Functional Specifications
1.1.4.1.1.
Collect User Requirements
1.1.4.1.1.1. Define Data elements
1.1.4.1.1.2. Define Frequency
1.1.4.1.1.3. Define Audience
1.1.4.1.2.
Design Reports
1.1.4.1.3.
Review Report Design with Project Team
1.1.4.1.4.
Deliver Final Functional Specs
1.1.4.1.5.
Obtain User Signoff
1.2. Development
1.2.1. Web Front End
1.2.1.1. Code Web Pages
1.2.1.2. Conduct Unit Test
1.2.1.3. Review Web Page design/functionality
1.2.1.4. Obtain User Signoff
1.2.2. SQL Database
1.2.2.1. Identify table relationships
1.2.2.2. Build database tables
1.2.2.3. Review Tables with project team
1.2.2.4. Obtain Signoff
1.2.3. Interfaces
1.2.3.1. Build Interfaces
1.2.3.2. Conduct Unit test of import/export functionality
1.2.3.3. Obtain Signoff
1.2.4. Reports
1.2.4.1. Code Reports
1.2.4.2. Conduct Unit test
1.2.4.3. Review Reports with project team
1.2.4.4. Obtain Signoff
Continued next page
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ProjectConnections.com Template
Plan and Schedule Development: Create WBS
Example: Website Development WBS (continued)
1.3. Quality Assurance
1.3.1. Web Front End
1.3.1.1. Verify design and functionality
1.3.1.2. Perform Integration Test
1.3.1.3. Perform User Acceptance Test
1.3.1.4. Obtain User Signoff
1.3.2. SQL Database
1.3.2.1. Verify design/data elements
1.3.2.2. Verify relationships
1.3.2.3. Perform Integration Test
1.3.2.4. Perform User Acceptance Test
1.3.2.5. Obtain User Signoff
1.3.3. Interfaces
1.3.3.1. Verify design and functionality
1.3.3.2. Perform Integration Test
1.3.3.3. Perform User Acceptance Test
1.3.3.4. Obtain User Signoff
1.3.4. Reports
1.3.4.1. Verify design and functionality
1.3.4.2. Perform Integration Test
1.3.4.3. Perform User Acceptance Test
1.3.4.4. Obtain User Signoff
1.4. Training
1.4.1. Create system documentation
1.4.1.1. Assemble Tech Specs
1.4.1.2. Develop System Flowcharts
1.4.1.3. Deliver Source Code
1.4.1.4. Complete System Documentation manual
1.4.2. Create training materials
1.4.2.1. Assemble Functional Specs
1.4.2.2. Develop “As Is” and “To Be” documentation
1.4.2.3. Update Business Processes
1.4.2.3.1.
Write new business processes
1.4.2.3.2.
Obtain User Signoff
1.4.2.4. Complete User Training Manuals
1.4.3. Train users
1.4.3.1. Train IT Support Staff
1.4.3.1.1.
Identify trainees
1.4.3.1.2.
Identify trainers
1.4.3.1.3.
Construct training schedule
1.4.3.1.4.
Train users
1.4.3.2. Train Business Partners
1.4.3.2.1.
Identify trainees
1.4.3.2.2.
Identify trainers
1.4.3.2.3.
Construct training schedule
1.4.3.2.4.
Train users
1.4.3.2.5.
Verify user readiness
Continued next page
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Plan and Schedule Development: Create WBS
Example: Website Development WBS (continued)
1.5. Implementation
1.5.1. Hardware
1.5.1.1. Determine hardware needs
1.5.1.2. Make Hardware selections
1.5.1.3. Purchase hardware
1.5.1.4. Deploy
1.5.1.5. Perform System test
1.5.1.6. Verify production readiness and signoff
1.5.2. Packaged Software
1.5.2.1. Determine software needs
1.5.2.2. Make software selections
1.5.2.3. Purchase software
1.5.2.4. Deploy
1.5.2.5. Perform System Test
1.5.2.6. Verify production readiness
1.5.3. Develop Implementation Plan
1.5.3.1. Construct Timeline
1.5.3.2. Identify Team
1.5.3.3. Identify Components
1.5.3.4. Finalize Plan
1.5.4. Installation
1.5.4.1. Convert hardware to production-ready status
1.5.4.2. Convert packaged software to production ready status
1.5.4.3. Install new programs into production environment
1.5.4.4. Verify code
1.5.4.5. Initiate limited production run for user acceptance
1.5.4.6. Turn over system to users
1.6. Post-Implementation
1.6.1. Verify System
1.6.1.1. Obtain user acceptance of production system
1.6.1.2. Log issues
1.6.2. Monitor system
1.6.2.1. Verify performance
1.6.2.2. Verify functionality
1.6.3. Project Wrap-up
1.6.3.1. Obtain Final Project Signoff
1.6.3.2. Document and Review Lessons Learned
See also a number of Work Breakdown Structure example files on the ProjectConnections
website: http://www.projectconnections.com/templates/.
See the next page of the file for an example plan development worksheet. This worksheet is
included in each Plan and Schedule Development file, illustrating how the successive columns can
be used to develop each aspect of the schedule. Your team may use similar worksheets in Excel, or
do most of the work in a scheduling tool such as Microsoft Project. Regardless, this worksheet
format helps illustrate how the components of the schedule evolve from the WBS.
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Plan and Schedule Development: Create WBS
Planning Worksheet: Create a Work Breakdown Structure
NOTE: The table below can be broken up to correspond to major groups of work as defined by the top levels of the Work Breakdown Structure to aid completion of
the entire project’s WBS by different team members or functional groups working separately in parallel.
WBS
Level
Activity Name
Activity Description
including
deliverable
Owner
Name +
[FTE*]
Other
resources
needed
Name+ [FTE*]
Specific
competencies,
skills, experience
needed
Estimated Effort
& Duration
Estimated Costs
Dependencies
plus any true
date constraints
1
2
3
* FTE means “Full time equivalent.” Express a person or generic resource’s involvement as a percentage of a full time person, e.g. [0.5] for half-time.
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