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Microsoft Project 2010 : Work Breakdown Structure (part 2) - WBS and Scheduling

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4/25/2014 4:42:41 AM

WBS and Scheduling

Regardless of the methods that are chosen to create the schedule, the process will be iterative. Some groups will choose to begin the process using top-down decomposition. Others may choose to identify all of the work they can using brain-storming techniques and then organize the work into logical packages. Either method is effective as a starting point. Multiple iterations of each method will be used before the team will be satisfied that all the work has been identified. It is important to remember that certain types of work, such as integration of elements, are often only recognized from the bottom-up view. Examples of this include assembly of components in a manufacturing project or quality testing in a software project.

The iterative nature of building a WBS, and subsequently a schedule, requires a great deal of realignment and reordering of elements. When developing and maintaining the WBS structure, it is important that you remember the 100% rule mentioned previously. You should maintain work packages as units and move them as units within the schedule rather than moving individual tasks below the work package. After you have identified the work packages, you can rearrange them, but you should have the same set of lowest-level work packages regardless of the realignment. Use the 100% rule to validate the process and always focus on the outputs of the packages rather than the resources required to do the work.

Tip

Remember that the work package is the lowest component of a WBS; after you are sure that you have captured all of them, organize them in a way that is meaningful to the team. Tasks are defined at the level below the work package.


Figures 4 and 5 show examples of how work packages can exist in different locations in the project schedule. In this case, the work package called “Cabinets” exists under the Level 2 task “Surfaces” in Figure 4, and under the Level 2 task “Storage” in Figure 5. Remember, a work package is defined as the lowest level of the WBS; the tasks (activities to be performed) are broken out below the work package level.

Figure 4. Work packages can be aligned in different ways; use the 100% rule to verify the scope.

Figure 5. The “Cabinets” work package has been moved. If “Storage” existed as a Level 2 component in your WBS, this may be a more appropriate place for the “Cabinets” work package.

Avoid the tendency to define the work according to the groups that may be performing the work during initial decomposition because this will limit your thinking and make it easier to violate the 100% rule. Instead, focus on the work to be delivered and then assign it to a group as appropriate.

After the team is satisfied that all work has been captured and decomposed to the appropriate level, the WBS work packages are set to be the basis for adding precedence and resources and creating a schedule. The work packages should have starting and ending milestones to aid with work flow and to ensure that the focus remains on the production of deliverables. Refer to Figure 2 for examples of these milestones.

Use of Templates

Most organizations repeatedly deliver similar projects. Templates can be extremely useful for capturing the best practices developed into repeatable standards and reporting, giving new projects a jumpstart to success. The top two levels of the WBS can often be used consistently across an organization. The project management elements can be standardized, as can many other cross-cutting elements. Standard templates will minimize the amount of startup work required to determine process use for each project and will also improve the organization’s ability to control scope on the elements that are consistent across projects.

 
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