Here is an approach through questioning I suggest to help a project to start to construct a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) to the right level of detail, quickly understand the risks against it and start to understand the resources to be applied.

Determining the Appropriate WBS level of detail is vital, it helps you establish correct level of detail to help you monitor and control your project(s) so you really understand “whats going on”

Should the WBS be decomposed further or are you at the correct level?

Questions for consideration:

  • Is there a need to improve the accuracy of the cost and duration, estimates of the WBS element?
  • Is more than one individual or group responsible for the WBS element? While there may be a variety of resources assigned to a WBS element, there should be one individual assigned overall responsibility for the deliverable created during the completion of the WBS element.
  • Does the WBS elements content include more than one type of work process or more than one deliverable?
  • Is there a need to precisely know the timing of work processes internal to the WBS element?
  • Is there a need to separately define the cost of work processes or deliverables internal to the WBS element?
  • Are their dependencies between deliverables within a WBS element to another WBS element?
  • Are there significant time gaps in the execution of the work processes internal to the WBS element?
  • Do resource requirements change over time within a WBS element?
  • Do prerequisites differ among internal deliverables within the WBS element?
  • Are clear, objective criteria missing for measuring progress for the WBS element?
  • Are there acceptance criteria applicable before the completion of the entire WBS element?
  • Are there specific risks that require focused attention to a portion of the WBS element?
  • Can a portion of the work to be performed within the WBS element be scheduled as a unit?

The Relationship between Project Risk and the WBS

The following questions should be addressed for each WBS element when considering project risk:

  • Are the deliverables completely and clearly defined?
  • Will the quality of the work be evaluated through efforts such as testing and inspection?
  • What is the likelihood of change?
  • Is the technology changing faster than the project can be accomplishes?
  • Have manpower, facilities capability, availability of internal resources, and potential suppliers been checked?
  • Is extensive subcontracting expected?
  • Is management committed to the project and will they provide the support needed?
  • Are requirements defined and approved?
  • Has a formal change process been defined and implemented?
  • Have metrics been defined for how the deliverables will be measured?
  • Have resource requirements been identified for development of the project deliverables?
  • Have other risks been identified, including stakeholder buy-in, public relations, management approval, team understanding, and project opposition?
  • Has a communication plan (internal and external) been defined and implemented
  • Are third-party dependencies understood and monitored for change?
  • Have alternate suppliers of required products, supplies, or expertise been identified?

Resource Planning and Management

In order to prepare for adequate resource planning against the WBS, consider the following when examining the WBS level of detail:

  • Is all the work planned to a degree of detail necessary to make and keep commitments?
  • Is they’re an ability to establish and mange individual work assignments with the reporting structure indicated by this WBS?
  • Can work assignments be established from a progressive expansion of the WBS?
  • How will work generally be assigned and controlled?
  • Will it be possible to reconcile individual work assignments to the formal scheduling system?
  • How will budgets be established?
  • Will it be possible to relate the budget to the proposed work assignments?
  • Is the level of detail in the WBS appropriate for effective planning and control?
  • Is the work defined by the WBS grouped in a logical manner?
  • Is more than one organisation involved (indicating the need to validate the WBS with others before doing detailed resource planning)?
  • How will the status of work in progress be determined?

If I can offer and assistance in this area then please feel free to ask.

Thanks for reading.

Contact: stephen.paxton@proddio.com

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