What looks like a simple organizational chart has become the most trusted project management tool used today. Known as a work breakdown structure, this chart helps project managers clearly outline the steps needed to achieve project success.
In “Getting Started in Project Management – 4. Work Breakdown Structure,” project managers will learn the important benefits of creating a work breakdown structure, as well as hear examples of how such a simple chart can produce amazing results.
According to presenter Rita Mulcahy, PMP, without a work breakdown structure a project is likely to fail. In fact, work breakdown structures are so integral to the art of project management that the scientifically proven tool is included in every international project management certification program available.
Of course, the tool is only a vehicle, she says. To maximize the benefits of a work breakdown structure, project managers must take the time to develop one.
Mulcahy notes the best way to create a work breakdown structure is with a group, where brainstorming and buy-in can take place at the same time. The top box outlines the project’s goal. Then, working backward, project managers can break that goal into high-level deliverables, smaller deliverables, and finally into the detailed ways such deliverables can be achieved.
At the end of the process, the work breakdown structure serves as a clear project roadmap – from initial steps to the final outcome. At this point, meetings can be planned, staffing adjustments can be made, and budgeting can begin.
The process will be interactive, but it also might be surprising. Tasks previously not considered as part of the project may turn out to be integral, Mulcahy says, or a task once deemed necessary may turn out to be unnecessary.
The real benefit of a work breakdown structure, however, comes as the project work continues. Anyone can deal with problems, Mulcahy explains, but the best prevent them. Having worked through the myriad of moving parts, many problems can be avoided. Days can be spent working toward a goal rather than fixing issues. In addition, stress levels will be reduced because all stakeholders have an understanding of expectations.
Armed with better communication and a plan in place to achieve a specific goal, a work breakdown structure will help project managers achieve success.