Things Your WBS Does NOT DO

Filed under Becoming a PM, Tools, Training | Posted by MMeloni

The work breakdown structure (WBS) is such a useful tool. And truthfully, once I learned about it, I wondered how I had managed without it. I stumbled into project management. I definitely did not know what I did not know.

One day, a group of consultants were walking us through some project planning techniques, and that is when I learned about the work breakdown structure. Now I even use it to help plan classes, or when I write a book. As amazing as the WBS can be, it does not do everything. And when you try to make it everything, then it loses value.

The WBS outlines the work to be accomplished for you and your team to reach project completion. The WBS shows WHAT needs to happen, but it does NOT show WHEN. It is not a schedule. But it is really valuable in helping you break the work down into activates that will eventually go into your schedule.

The WBS does not show HOW to do the work. Your subject matter experts will know how to do the work. If not, then you will work to get training or additional support as-needed.

And as you create the WBS with your team, you can ask questions about the nature of the work, but the purpose of the WBS is to show WHAT needs to happen.

The WBS needs to focus on outcomes (products or services) and not on tasks (how you will provide/ produce them) or on resources (people and other resources doing the work). Do not go wrong with your WBS by trying to specify individual tasks with it.

Do not worry, even though the WBS does not do everything, it really gives you an excellent overview of the work. And this will help you create estimates, identify resources, and create a schedule.

If you are ready to learn more about the WBS now, be sure to check out for a short program that will help you master this important tool.