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CS615 - Software Project Management - Lecture Handout 32

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Work Breakdown Structure

WBS Preview

Salient features

Large, complex projects are organized and comprehended by breaking them into progressively smaller pieces until they are a collection of defined "work packages" that may include a number of tasks.

A $1,000,000,000 project is simply a lot of $50,000 projects joined together.

Work breakdown structure (WBS) is a technique to decompose the project for the purpose of management and control. It provides the framework for organizing and managing the work.

A project may be divided into subprojects. Subprojects are subdivided into smaller, more manageable work components (work packages) at the lowest level.

The work packages may be further decomposed to project activities. It provides the framework for organizing and managing the work.

A project may be divided into subprojects. Subprojects are subdivided into smaller, more manageable work components (work packages) at the lowest level.
The work packages may be further decomposed to project activities.

The WBS is commonly used at the beginning of a project for defining project scope, organizing Gantt schedules and estimating costs.

It lives on, throughout the project, in the project schedule and often is the main path for reporting project costs.

WBS includes activities like management, procurement, installation, software development etc.

Many of the WBS development tasks are derived from the development method that will be used, and from the design and architecture of the system

WBS is related to planning and scheduling a project

It is a functional decomposition of the tasks of the project.

It starts with the end objective required and successively subdividing it into manageable components in terms of size and complexity of:

  • Program,
  • Project,
  • System,
  • Subsystem,
  • Components,
  • tasks, subtasks, and
  • work elements

The WBS is first and foremost a technical data gathering structure, developed so that the achievement in technical progress can be measured and analyzed against a formal baseline plan.

The WBS aids the customer in understanding the status of the project as time elapses. The WBS aids the customer's customer in understanding the status of the project.

All managers, internal and external need to use the planning and status information within the WBS structure to:

  1. Aid in the adjustment to the current program paths and
  2. For maximizing the attainment of short term and long term goals

WBS-What is it?

WBS is a definition of a project in terms of its work or a deliverable-oriented grouping of project elements that organizes and defines the total scope of the project.

Each descending level represents an increasingly detailed definition of the project’s work

It’s an outline of the work of the project, not the work itself, created by those doing the work – that may include all functional stakeholders.

WBS- What it contains?

  • Maps all contractual obligations (SOW) regarding deliverables
  • Details project objectives
  • Detailed enough to meet performance (measurable) objectives
  • Contains built-in WBS and Project Plan review and update

WBS- When is it produced?

The WBS is produced following the development of the scope statement, before the schedule. It is a “bridging” document between the Scope and Schedule. (what and when)

Uses of WBS

  • Defines 100% of the scope and can communicate the scope of the project without the presence of the scope statement or document.
  • Communicates effectively to all stakeholders
  • Defines and clarifies
  • Boundaries (Life cycle of the project – not the product)
  • Deliverables
  • Refines Scope

Defines scope in project management language (perhaps down to work package level which may lead to development of project schedule)

It’s not a single document that can be mistaken for the project plan, schedule or scope statement

WBS- A Mandatory Management Tool

WBS as a Project Management Tool

A WBS is a valuable management tool that is used throughout all life-cycle phases to:

Manage Risk

It helps in managing risk by providing insight into technical aspects of program management.

Manage Costs

A WBS can be used to help make program management decisions.
For example, if the costs of an element in the WBS are too high, the WBS can be used to identify possible tradeoffs. Identifying and analyzing tradeoffs can help the manager decide how best to stay within budget.

Assign Work

The WBS is also useful for determining an acquisition strategy and/or assigning work. The information contained in the WBS can help a Program Manager develop a statement of work that describes what products or services are to be

Schedule and Track activities

A schedule of key events can be developed for each element in the WBS.
Completion of these key events is then tracked.

  • Schedule and Track activities
  • The work breakdown structure defines all tasks to be performed during the development of the project. This will include tasks from such project categories as:
    • Software development
    • Installation
    • Maintenance
    • Management
    • Training
    • Procurement
    • Documentation

Align with Terms of Reference and scope of project

  • At all times, any, work being performed by a member of the software project team must be part of a WBS task: No member of the team should ever perform any task that does not appear in the WBS list of tasks.
  • The WBS is essentially a management tool that provides the ability to assign well-define tasks to members of the development team.
  • It is through the WBS that progress is monitored as tasks are completed and potential problems are discovered.
  • New tasks that were overlooked are identified, and estimates are revised based on the actual resources used for completed tasks.

Report Expense

  • The WBS is also a budgetary tool that provides a means of charging each development activity to the appropriate section in the project budget.
  • This is one of the basic methods for planning and monitoring project expenditure.
  • There are mainly computerized utilities available to support the maintenance of the WBS.
  • These utilities run both on small PC type computers and large mainframes.
  • WBS utilities are often available as part of a manager's general planning utility, and provide other scheduling and monitoring features, such as PERT analysis and report generation.