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I recall my first glimpse of a WBS. At the time, it seemed to spread out like an octopus’s tentacles. Challenging though it looked, it made me all the more determined to use one for some hands-on experience. I eventually got the hang of it enough to make one myself. And much later, that work breakdown structure template turned out to be quite useful to draw comparisons between what was being done, and what was documented.
A project work breakdown structure is a list of the tasks, sub-activities, budget and resources allocated for a project. It breaks down the project scope into measurable tasks. This is then assigned to competent members within the team.
The project manager appointed to lead the project is usually the best person to structure the WBS. But there’s no rule that says not to involve group members in determining what goes into it! When we work in the same physical workspace, getting an update or checking in on activity is a simple matter of herding the team for a meeting and having them speak turn by turn on what they’ve done so far and what is holding them back. Even a spreadsheet suffices as a work breakdown structure example.
So, which WBS remote project management can help you in project cost control, set the record straight and not lead to an unintentional omission?
Here are 3 hot tips to ensure efforts aren’t in vain when the workforce is voluntarily homebound:
Share the WBS with your team from the very start.
By taking complete ownership of the task, the member also knows who they can collaborate with, in case they’re stuck. The reason being, that every member is aware of what each other is on, and can give more precise help or a different perspective to resolve a bottleneck!
Organizing virtual stand-ups at a fixed hour gets everyone to participate without the accompanying chaos.
I’ve always said that you have to look back before looking ahead. Sprint retrospectives can be a great way for team members to clue each other in on what they achieved. It aligns their effort and learnings to the project as a whole. In a way, it tells you what processes must change for the WBS to be an even greater success down the line.
You can create a work breakdown structure presentation as a hierarchical list on excel, PowerPoint or diagramming tools like LucidChart, Microsoft Visio and Create.ly. Check with corporate if there are any existing template formats to stick to before you start. The terminologies you refer to should be clear to all who will be using this wbs template.
And yes, involve your team closely to get their input on what they think should go into the WBS. Conflicting opinions on priorities can seem chaotic in the beginning. But once you separate the wheat from the chaff, you’ll be better able to contain the work packages and include adjustments. Here’s how to document a WBS:
Now that you have a framework to contain and measure progress, it’s time to map your WBS.
a. Makes milestones achievable: once a task’s priority and linked dependencies are visible, how to get to the milestones become more measurable. Breaking the work package into phases lets you mark tasks as done. It also signals the start of the next task to take up.
b. Keeps members accountable: There’s clarity over responsibilities and lines of authority which helps members follow the sequence and keep track of their own progress across multiple workflow streams.
c. Identifies priorities: It frees your competent staff from busywork and enables them to channel their strengths into the priorities, thus making productive use of the bandwidth during business hours.
d. Controls the project spend: It confines the amount of work to be done into a timebox so that the uncontrolled costs don’t derail the project budgeting plan.
e. Improves communication: Since tasks and resources allocated are visible to all, it’s easy for members to pool in a diverse body of knowledge as and when required, figure out what is causing a holdup and brainstorm for solutions to a bottleneck.
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