Imagine you are about to jump from a plane on your first skydive experience. As you leave the plane the ground seems a blur, a wash of colour and shapes.

As you fall, you start to notice suburbs and general areas that make sense to you.

Falling further, you start to notice details such as the outline of houses, buildings, roads and beaches. As you continue to descend, the details of those objects start to become more and more apparent.

You pull the rip chord and suddenly your descent slows, letting you look around and focus on the infer details such as cars, buses, peopl, line markings, trees and more.

We use this analogy to describe the general outline of the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) because it accurately describes how a good WBS should be structured - a component based breakdown of the project. In the project context, it is a deliverable oriented decomposition of components. To develop a good WBS, project teams must start at 30,000 feet and zoom in on each component

We've performed so many project reviews and continue to notice common trends. Here are our top 5 reasons why projects fail to correctly develop a WBS:

  • The cost analysts implemented a cost structure prior to developing the work breakdown structure. This meant that the planner used the WBS to align to the cost system instead of the other way around
    There was a firm belief that by planning by crew or discipline, there would be greater alignment to the estimate and tighter control over costs
  • Poor definition of the scope and objectives
  • The contracts to be let were used to structure the schedule
  • The WBS was developed to make reporting easier


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