Work Breakdown Structure

Projects come in all sizes and shapes, this is a fact. When managing large projects, dealing with all sorts of tasks and steps can be very difficult and overwhelming, which is why is always a good idea to organize tasks into multiple levels, and to display those elements visually. In project management, this practice is known as a Work Breakdown Structure.


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Work Breakdown Structure Definition


A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) can be defined as a deliverable-oriented breakdown of a project, that focuses on organizing tasks into multiple levels and smaller tasks, and to display the resulting elements graphically. 


In project management, a work breakdown structure represents a key element because it helps to organize a team’s work into manageable sections, and it helps to identify everything that must be accomplished before completing a project. 

Why Use a Work Breakdown Structure?


This deliverable-based approach helps project managers work with a much more detailed picture of the activities, deliverables, and milestones that need be accomplished throughout a project’s life-cycle. In other words, creating a work breakdown structure can help you deconstruct the work you need to do into smaller, and detailed elements.


When projects are on the larger side, creating a WBS can help you manage the complexity of dealing with a high number of tasks and subtasks. And, by providing better visibility, it can also help you to make sure every task gets done at the right time. 

What Are the Key Elements of a Work Breakdown Structure?

  1. Hierarchy. A work breakdown structure is a “hierarchical decomposition” of the total work that needs to be carried out throughout the project. This means that every “child” task has a hierarchical relationship with the parent task. By adding up “child” tasks, you will be building a clear picture of the “parent” or the main task.
  2. Exclusive elements. Every element must be exclusive from each other, and they must never overlap. You will also need to follow the 100% rule, which refers to the fact that every level of the structure must be 100% completed up to the “parent” level.
  3. Outcomes. When creating a WBS, keep in mind that this is an outcome-oriented graph. You need to focus on deliverables rather than the mere activities required to accomplish them. 


When creating a work breakdown structure, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the project’s goals and objectives. This will help you identify the high-level deliverables (parent tasks) and to breakdown those deliverables into smaller, executable stages and tasks.


By understanding your tasks, you’re going to be able to evaluate each task and estimate the costs, and the resources needed to complete each of those tasks. Also, by understanding your goals and your tasks, you will have a better idea of how long it will take for you and your team to complete them, and it will make it so much easier for you to create a timeline and a schedule for your work, improving your chances of success, but at the same time maintaining a realistic approach.

Create A Work Breakdown Structure with Instagantt


Think of a WBS as a resource that will help you organize your work, understand your goals, and display your tasks graphically.


Creating a work breakdown structure using Excel or PowerPoint can be a common and simple approach, but those tools can only go as far and they have limited use. There wouldn’t be a way to easily assign tasks to different people or to visualize tasks next to their deadlines, just to mention a couple of downsides. And this is exactly where a Gantt chart software like Instagantt can help you. 

Work Breakdown Structure
Work Breakdown Structure


Instagantt specializes in creating visually striking Gantt charts in just a couple of minutes. With just a few clicks, you’ll be ready to start creating your own tasks and subtasks, creating dependencies between them, and assigning them to your teammates. And by establishing clear deadlines, you’ll also be making sure your team does not fall behind on any task.


Take a Look at Our Free Work Breakdown Structure Template

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