A case for the WBS PDF Print E-mail
WBS – wasn’t that some quaint little idea that you had to memorize for the PMP certification and then promptly packed away for “future” use? Maybe you’re one of the many guilty practicing PMs who don’t use a work breakdown structure as a cornerstone of your planning activities. Maybe you don’t need a WBS – or perhaps that’s the thought you repeat to yourself as another project is started without this tool. 

I’m guilty too – but I’m a reformer. I learned my lesson the hard way – too many missed bits of scope, too many surprises and way, way, way too many uncomfortable discussions about, “How on earth could you have missed that?” The WBS is a cornerstone tool because it works. PMI has to stay pretty general in their application to reach as wide an audience as possible – they wrote a WBS standard to cover the ins and outs of using this tool. A standard for the WBS….

So what does this mean to you? You’ve outgrown that tool, perhaps? Maybe you’d forgotten it was there? Could it be that every project start is so hectic that it slips away from your thoughts and plans? Whatever the reason, the exercise of creating and maturing a WBS for every project is as valuable as any planning exercise in the craft. Doesn’t matter that you’re running a server consolidation project – WBS is perfect to capture the work that’s there. Software project – even more so. Fact is, any IT related project can radically improve the scope performance and effectiveness if the WBS tool is used early in the process.

Does it matter if you use sticky notes or a flowcharting software package? Nope
Does it make a difference if you use a top down flow or a side to side one? Nope
Does it count as a WBS if you simply think about the work while you create your project plan? Nope
Will anyone know the difference if you use a WBS or not until it’s too late? Nope

You are the critical link between impatient stakeholders, a confused team and a list of scope items that could lurk in hiding for the bulk of your project’s schedule. You have the training, tools and skill to execute the WBS for your team and help them gain clarity on what’s there to do. If you are rusty, and if you’re a PMI member, get on over to the PMI website and get yourself the WBS Standard. It’s not the most exciting read on the planet, but it can give you the push you need to pull this tool out of hiding and get it working for you.
 
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