A Work breakdown structure (WBS) is a tool and which is a key product deliverable that organizes out the team into manageable segments and in particular the WBS is utilized to define the activities for the project.

WBS is also be alluded to as “Contract Work Breakdown Structure” or “CWBS”

According to “PMBOK” (Project management body of knowledge) WBS is defined as “A deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of aggregate extent of work to be done by the project team to achieve the project goals and objectives and create the required deliverables.”

The main objective and goal of a WBS is to make a more manageable. Splitting into smaller components that implies the work can be done simultaneously by different project stakeholders, which will lead to better productivity and eases the project management overall. The WBS gives the foundation to all PM work, which includes planning, costing and exertion estimation, resource allocation, and scheduling.


Sample WBS


  • Enables the project team to visualize and communicate the total scope of the project.
  • Enhances the project team’s comprehension of how the project’s scope of work would be accomplished.
  • Makes it simple for a project manager or project lead to assign project work to team members.
  • Makes the owner of a WBS package more accountable.
  • Captures 100% scope of the project. Consequently, the probability of missing an imperative task is less.
  • Enables tasks to be effectively delegated and managed.
  • Defines the relationships between work, organization and cost.


  • It will help to define accurately to define the scope of the project.
  • It will help to determine a project timeline and develop a schedule.
  • It will make easy to track the progress of the project.
  • It will enable to communicate to the project team precisely what is expected at each stage of the project, to allocate resources and personnel appropriately.
  • It will facilitate communication about the specifics of the project with stakeholders, like management, board, or end-users, to make sure nothing is overlapping or missing.
  • It will estimate the cost of the project.


In order to create a WBS for best results, below are the following rules.

  • 100% Rule
  • Mutually Exclusive
  • Outcomes, Not Actions
  • The 8/80 Rule
  • Three Levels

THE 100% RULE:

The work of your WBS must include 100% of the work, is important to finish the overall objective without including any extraneous or unrelated work. Likewise, child tasks on any level must account for all of the work is important to finish the parent task.


Do not include a sub-task twice or account for any amount of work twice. Doing so would violate the 100% rule and will result in miscalculations as you try to determine the resources necessary to complete a project.


Remember to concentrate on deliverables and outcomes rather than actions. For example, if you were manufacturing a bike, a deliverable may make “the braking system” same time activities might include “calibrate those brake pads”.

THE 8/80 RULE:

There are many ways to choose when a work package is small enough without being really small. This rule is one of the most common points of suggestions—a work package should take not less than eight hours of effort, but not more than 80 hours. Other rules recommend not more than ten days or not more than a standard reporting weight period. In other words, if you report on your work every month, a work package should take not more than a month to complete. The point when over doubt, apply the “if it makes sense” rule and use your best judgment.


In general, a WBS should include the details are in three levels. Some chunks of the WBS will be more subdivided than rest others, but if most of the chunks have about three levels, the scope of the project and the level of detail in WBS are about right.


We can opt for different format options when creating a work breakdown structure. The outline structure can be formed from the sample WBS hierarchal tree format, which is most visual option.

Outline Structure:

It is easy to put together and to show the hierarchy of tasks, when we use the simplest test outline WBS format.

Build a Project:

  1. Analysis
    • Task 1
    • Task 2
  2. Design
    • Task 3
    • Task 4
  3. Coding
    • Task 5
    • Task 6
  4. Testing
    • Task 7
    • Task 8

Hierarchical Structure:

This format is less visually intuitive but shows the hierarchy of tasks. Because it is a table, this format fits easily onto a page.

Level WBS Code Element Name
1 1 Analysis
2 1.1 Task 1
2 1.2 Task 2
1 2 Design
2 2.1 Task 3
2 2.2 Task 4
1 3 Coding
2 3.1 Task 5
2 3.2 Task 6
1 4 Testing
2 4.1 Task 7
2 4.2 Task 8

Tabular View:

Level 1 Level 2
1.      Analysis 1.1  Task 1
1.2  Task 2
2.      Design 2.1  Task 3
2.2  Task 4
3.      Coding 3.1  Task 5
3.2  Task 6
4.      Testing 4.1  Task 7
4.2  Task 8

WBS Dictionary:

A WBS dictionary is formatted like the hierarchical structure, but it includes a brief description of each work package. It helps to clarify the scope of each task so that all team members understand their responsibilities.

Level WBS Code Element Name Element Description
1 1 Analysis
2 1.1 Task 1
2 1.2 Task 2
1 2 Design
2 2.1 Task 3
2 2.2 Task 4
1 3 Coding
2 3.1 Task 5
2 3.2 Task 6
1 4 Testing
2 4.1 Task 7
2 4.2 Task 8


There are few mind mapping tools, where we can use those to create a Work breakdown structure.

  1. MindMeister https://www.mindmeister.com/
  2. XMind http://www.xmind.net/
  3. FreeMind
  4. Visio
  5. MindMapper

About Krishna kanth .B

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