Guideline - Task Identification and Work Breakdown Structure

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Guideline - Task Identification and Work Breakdown Structure ... Guideline Plan and Schedule Development Task ID & WBS

    The detailed guidelines and examples start on the following page What This Is

    First of a series of six templates for project plan and schedule development. This guideline lists the process steps for developing a work break down structure that identifies all the tasks in the project‘s

    work, the first step in creating a detailed project plan and schedule. Several Work Breakdown Structure

    examples are provided to demonstrate the results.

    Task Identification Task Identification Task Assignment Task Assignment Logical Relationships Logical Relationships Task Task Project Project Work BreakdownWork Breakdown& Ownership& Ownershipand Dependenciesand DependenciesDurationDurationScheduleSchedule


     DevelopmentDevelopmentTrade-offs, Optimization, and Risk ManagementTrade-offs, Optimization, and Risk Management

Content in this guideline was contributed by:

    ProjectConnections staff, IPSolutions -, and ICS Group

Why It’s Useful

    A key to successful project scheduling is to break down the project goals into tasks BEFORE you

    consider delivery dates, resource constraints, specific named resources, or task dependencies. This

    helps you to objectively identify all of the work necessary without subconsciously leaving out real work in

    order to fit date constraints.

    The WBS step helps accomplish the following key objectives:

    ? Develops an objective, rational view of the amount of work required

    ? Helps team grasp the skills required and amount of resources required for the project

    ? Provides a clear framework for assigning to individuals a clear task definition and delegate the

    responsibility for completion

    ? Lays a foundation for analyzing the task dependencies and for isolating and managing risks

    ? Lays a foundation for developing a bottom-up estimate for the project schedule

    ? Allows tradeoffs to be made consciously and with the proper consensus involved. How to Use It

    1. Review the process 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. Determine an appropriate organization for your WBS and begin identifying major work efforts. See the

    detailed guidelines which begin on the following page for how your WBS can be organized. 4. Break the top level of your WBS further into a hierarchical set of tasks. Use the guidelines starting on

    the next page for deciding how far your WBS must be broken down to ensure that you‘ve defined

    enough detail for scheduling your project.

    5. This WBS information will feed the next step in the planning/scheduling process: Assigning resources

    to tasks.

The Guideline and Template Content for Creating a WBS Starts on the Following Page

    ?Copyright 2001-2007 Page 1 Permission for Members to use personally as long as and IPS attribution are maintained Guideline Plan and Schedule Development Task ID & WBS

    Plan and Schedule Development (1) Task Identification and Work Breakdown Structure

Overview of WBS Creation

    The WBS is the first step in developing a detailed work plan for the project. Task Identification and WBS

    Creation bridges from the early Scope definition to creation of a detailed project schedule.

    Task Identification, Task Task Task Work & Project Project Work Breakdown Resource Relationships and Duration ScheduleScope Structure (WBS)Assignment DependenciesEstimates

     Plan & Schedule Trade-offs, Optimization, and Risk ManagementDevelopment

    1) Start with: The Scope

    Defines at the highest level what has to be donewhat must be created and

    delivered to the project‘s customers.

    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, activities, tasks that can be

    assigned to an owner.

    3) Based on the WBS, develop: The Project Schedule

    Created by adding resource assignments, task work effort and duration

    estimates, and dependencies to all tasks in the WBS.

    ?Copyright 2001-2007 Page 2 Permission for Members to use personally as long as and IPS attribution are maintained Guideline Plan and Schedule Development Task ID & WBS

The Work Breakdown Process: From the Top Down

    Use the following top down approach to iteratively create your WBS:

    1. First identify the major components of work to be accomplished.

    Identify 5-10 major work groups which primarily set up how the work is expected to be organized, to

    form the highest level or first level of the WBS. Choose this top level of your WBS to match your

    organizational and internal work methodologythe 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 approaches. (ref: Effective Project Management, Wysoki et

    al, pg. 120)


    Physical Decomposition product building with summary approach

    Functional Decomposition system functionality focus


    Design-Build-Test-Implement methodology or lifecycle phase focus

    Objectives senior management or customer focus on reporting to deliverables


    Geographical coordination and communication focus across locations

    Business Function focus on business process with integration complications

    Departmental focus is 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 Level 3 Level 3

    Level 3-3

    Indented List Graphical Chart

3. Continue to break down the work under each Level 2 items.

    Break down to the level of task detail that ensures the top-level components are broken down far

    enough for identification of 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.

    Write preliminary plans if necessary to help scope the later cross-functional efforts: documentation,

    manufacturing, testing, etc.

?Copyright 2001-2007 Page 3

    Permission for Members to use personally as long as and IPS attribution are maintained Guideline Plan and Schedule Development Task ID & WBS

Examples and Definitions of Typical WBS Levels

    This section contains material contributed by ICS Group

    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, then tasks, to create each deliverable as

    levels 3 and 4.

    Phases Identify major phases of work (e.g. specify, design, build, test…)

    Major Project Identify the major component deliverables of work required (e.g.,

    Deliverables and subsystems that must be designed, built, tested, during each phase.)

    related milestones

    Activities Identify the activities needed to create those deliverables. (Some

    interim, smaller deliverables such as documents may be involved.)

    Tasks Break the activities down to an appropriate level of task detail.

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 & Milestones: Deliverables are the clearly defined and recognizable results or

    tangible work products of successfully completed activities/tasks performed during the project. They

    appear on a project plan in the past tense, to represent the completed activity/task and the accomplished


    ―Receivables‖ should also appear on the project plan. They are deliverables owed to the project by others

    outside of the project (usually other project teams), and upon which the project is dependent.

    Milestones are interim events or points in time during the project which identify the completion of a

    significant segment. They are most useful as measuring or tracking points to gauge the progress of the


    Some milestones are ―business-critical‖ milestones, in that they are not just a mechanism for giving the

    team interim targets; they have special significance, such as a contractual date with a customer.

    Different individuals may identify different numbers of milestones based on their role in the project. For

    example, the project sponsor may identify three significant milestones as indicators of how the project is

    progressing, whereas a team leader may identify eight milestones or checkpoints within a particular


    A milestone should be identified to indicate the completion of each phase of the project.

    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 are composed of a series of tasks

    that are the lowest level of detail that can comfortably be managed. Team members who will be

    performing the tasks should be involved in the activity/task planning process. Estimates of time to

    complete each task should be based on typical work effort required and then may be adjusted to reflect

    "real world" conditions.

?Copyright 2001-2007 Page 4

    Permission for Members to use personally as long as and IPS attribution are maintained Guideline Plan and Schedule Development Task ID & 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, activities, and tasks until the

    detail defines a manageable project. 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 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, activities, and tasks on

    sticky notes and sticking them to the whiteboard or wall underneath the appropriate top level section

    of the WBS.

    4) Publish the draft WBS to team members and others to sanity check the contents, and identify

    additional work. Ultimately the WBS should take into account information from:

    ? other team members

    ? other project managers who have done similar work

    ? previous project reviews

    ? other appropriate groups

    ? expert opinion

    ? existing WBS templates

    5) Get the feedback and incorporate it into the WBS

    6) Review the updated WBS with the team and determine whether you‘re ready to proceed to the next

    step of Planning: assigning resources to the tasks in the WBS.

How Far to Go: How Much Detail is Enough

    The ultimate goal in breaking the work tasks down is to ensure that all of the work that is

    needed to meet the project’s objectives is recognized and planned for accurately from the


    The level to which you break down elements of your WBS may result in some tasks having less detail and

    longer duration, if the work in that area is clearly understood and represents well-known work in which the

    team is experienced and successful.

    ? One owner per task: The tasks must be defined such that they can be assigned to one person

    who will be doing that work.

    ? Clear measurable deliverable with measurement specified: The tasks must be defined such

    that the task owner can be given completion criteria that are clear and measurable.

    ? Small enough task duration for tracking: Task duration at lowest level should be less than 5%

    of total project time, to ensure visibility into task progress, at a small enough resolution to

    recognize quickly if the project is off track (e.g. 2 weeks if 1 year; 2 days if 2 months). Greater levels of detail are generally required for projects which are:

    ? larger

    ? more risky

    ? dissimilar to past projects

    ? difficult to define (susceptible to change)

    ? performed by internal work groups

    ? planned for the near future See the WBS completion checklist on the following page.

    ?Copyright 2001-2007 Page 5

    Permission for Members to use personally as long as and IPS attribution are maintained Guideline Plan and Schedule Development Task ID & WBS

The WBS will continue to be updated during the Plan and Schedule development process; generally as

    the process goes forward, additional tasks come to light and must be incorporated into the WBS.

The checklist below will help the team know that a WBS has been created that forms a sound basis for

    the project‘s schedule going forward.

    WBS Completion Checklist

    Appropriate level of detail: Continue to break the work down until a task list is developed which

    meets the following criteria:

    ? one (and only one) owner can be assigned to each of the lowest level tasks

    ? clearly defined outputs are evident for each task

    ? quality can be monitored through performance criteria associated with each output

    ? the tasks communicate the work to be accomplished to the person who is accountable

    ? the likelihood that a task is omitted or work flow forgotten is minimized

    ? each task is well enough defined and small enough so that estimates of duration are credible

    ? the project is broken down to the level at which you want to track

    ? as a general rule, the lowest level tasks should have durations between two and twenty days

    and effort that equates to not more than 1 person week

    No forgotten tasks: Project delays are often caused by forgotten tasks, rather than inaccurate

    estimates. Ensure you have included tasks for:

    ? 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

    ?Copyright 2001-2007 Page 6 Permission for Members to use personally as long as and IPS attribution are maintained Guideline Plan and Schedule Development Task ID & WBS

    WBS Examples

    The following WBS examples illustrate using the top-down breakdown approach for several different

    project types.

    Example 1: WBS for Building a House (Indented List Format)

    (ref : Effective Project Management, Wysoki et al, Pg. 120)


    A. Layout A. Hang sheetrock

    B. Grading B. Tape and bed

    C. Excavation


    II. FOUNDATION A. Install sheathing

    A. Erect Forms B. Lay shingles

    B. Pour Concrete

    C. Remove Forms VII. FINISH WORK

     A. Interior Ill. FRAMING 1. Install cabinets

    A. Floor Joists 2. Install appliances

    1. Install first-floor floor joists 3. Install furnace

    2. Install second-floor floor joists 4. Lay carpet

    B. Sub-flooring 5. Paint walls and molding

    1 Install first-floor sub-flooring 6. Hang wallpaper

    2. Install second-floor sub-flooring 7. Lay tile

    C. Stud Walls

    1. Erect first-floor stud walls VIII. LANDSCAPING

    2. Erect second-floor stud walls

    D. Frame Roof


    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

    ?Copyright 2001-2007 Page 7

    Permission for Members to use personally as long as and IPS attribution are maintained Template Plan/Schedule Development: Task ID & WBS

Example 2: WBS Excerpt for Creating a Promotional DVD

    CONCEPT (Phase) (Detailed deliverables and tasks here)

    DESIGN (Phase) (Detailed deliverables and tasks here)

     This section of the WBS broken out to activity/task detail:

    PROTOTYPE AND TEST (Phase) DVD Prototype (Deliverable)

    Develop Video (Activity)

    Shoot sections (Task)

    Review and update (Task)

    Edit video sections (Task)

    Edit video full sequence (Task)

    Develop Narrative (Activity)

    Write narrative text (Task)

    Review and update (Task)

    Record voice-over narrative (Task)

    Review prototype DVD

    Update prototype DVD

    Test DVD

    (Detailed tasks go here)

    SELECT VENDOR (Phase) DVD Fulfillment Vendor commitment (Deliverable)

    Research options

    Define selection criteria

    Send requirements to fulfillment houses

    Get quotes and sample contracts

    Decide fulfillment house

    Sign contract

    PRODUCE AND SEND (Phase) DVD Mailing (Deliverable)

    Send master to fulfillment house (Task)

    QA test DVD copy (Task)

    OK initial DVD production run (Task)

    Supply/approve mail-to list (Task)

    OK full DVD mailing (Task)

    Copyright 2000-2006 Emprend Inc/ Page 8

    Permission for Members to use personally according to our Terms of Service Template Plan/Schedule Development: Task ID & WBS

    Example 3: WBS Excerpt Hardware-Software System Development to Level 3 Activities

Phase II: Development

    Module 1

    Detailed Design


    Create prototype

    Unit Test

    Module 2

    Detailed Design


    Create prototype

    Unit Test

    Module n

    Detailed Design


    Create prototype

    Unit Test

    Integration Test

    Manufacturing planning

    User Documentation development

    Test Planning

    Final Design Review and Release

    Phase III: Approval

    Alpha Test

    Beta Test

    Regulatory Certification Phase IV: Delivery

    Pilot build

    Preparation for Release

    Release to Production/Delivery

    See also a number of Work Breakdown Structure example files on the site.

    Copyright 2000-2006 Emprend Inc/ Page 9

    Permission for Members to use personally according to our Terms of Service Template Plan/Schedule Development: Task ID & WBS

    Example 4: Website Development WBS

    1. Website Project

    1.1. Design

1.1.1. Web User Interface Functional Specifications Create User Interface Mock-ups Conduct Design Review Deliver Final Functional Specs Obtain User Signoff Technical Specifications Develop Tech Specs Review Tech Specs with Project Team Obtain Team Signoff 1.1.2. SQL Database Technical Specifications Develop Tech Specs Review Tech Specs with Project Team Obtain Team Signoff 1.1.3. Interfaces Technical Specifications Determine data import/export elements Define User needs Define IT needs Design interfaces Obtain Team Signoff 1.1.4. Reports Functional Specifications Collect User Requirements Define Data elements Define Frequency Define Audience Design Reports Review Report Design with Project Team Deliver Final Functional Specs Obtain User Signoff

    1.2. Development

    1.2.1. Web Front End Code Web Pages Conduct Unit Test Review Web Page design/functionality Obtain User Signoff

    1.2.2. SQL Database Identify table relationships Build database tables Review Tables with project team Obtain Signoff

    1.2.3. Interfaces Build Interfaces Conduct Unit test of import/export functionality Obtain Signoff

    1.2.4. Reports Code Reports Conduct Unit test Review Reports with project team Obtain Signoff

    Continued next page

    Copyright 2000-2006 Emprend Inc/ Page 10

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