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Project Management Work Breakdown Structure

As stated earlier the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is one of the most important tools in Project Management. Understanding the project at a detailed level is the key to developing a roadmap to success. Remember that, by definition, projects in general are unique, complex, multi dimensional undertakings which require a variety of resources and a different set of management tools to monitor and control. Therefore understanding of a "one time event" is equivalent to being able to see into the future. Most large projects are usually entering uncharted territory which is why they carry so much risk. To mitigate this risk tools such as the WBS were developed to break the project down into smaller, more familiar or standard tasks which collectively add up to a new complex "project". Once the WBS has been broken down into smaller pieces of work it is then necessary to manage each of these smaller pieces the same way you would manage the project as a whole. In effect each work task is a "mini" project. Obviously it is easier to manage a small task which is only a few weeks in duration but when there are fifty or a hundred of these small tasks going on simultaneously is where the project management system must be ready. Organization structure and delegation of responsibility is key to being able to monitor and control large undertakings. Granting of authority and demanding accountability is a balance that many organizations struggle with. It is a difficult formula for success that is variable from project to project and organization to organization. Culture, politics, economy, environment, and technology are major variables that are often working against us. Project management tools have evolved over the years to mitigate these forces and gives us at least a fighting chance for success.

With regard to planning for contingencies...Would you plan at the top level of the WBS or the lower levels of the WBS? Why or Why not?

What would be the difference? Would you develop contingency plans at the work package level?

773 words, three references

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Dear Student: I found several sites on the Internet which I think will answer your questions.

According to NetMBA (2010) a complex project is made manageable by first breaking it down into individual components in a hierarchical structure, known as the "work breakdown structure," or the WBS; such a structure defines tasks that can be completed independently of other tasks, facilitating resource allocation, assignment of responsibilities, and measurement and control of the project. For example, according to this site, each organization uses its own terminology for classifying WBS components according to their level in the hierarchy; for example, some organizations refer to different levels as tasks, sub-tasks, and work packages; others use the terms phases, entries, and activities. According to this site, the WBS may be organized around deliverables or phases of the project life cycle; higher levels in the structure are generally performed by groups while the lowest level (also called the work package level) of the hierarchy often comprises activities performed by individuals, though a WBS that emphasizes deliverables does not necessarily specify activities.

According to NetMBA (2010) the breaking down of a project into its component parts facilitates resource allocation and the ...

Solution Summary

The expert examines project management work breakdown structures.