A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) dictionary is a valuable tool in project management. It provides a comprehensive list of project deliverables, descriptions, and other essential information. In this article, we will guide you on how to build your own WBS dictionary, explain the key elements to include, and explore the benefits it brings to your project management efforts.
What is a Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary?
A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) dictionary is a document that accompanies the WBS and provides detailed information about each component or deliverable within the project. It serves as a reference guide for project team members, stakeholders, and other relevant parties.
Why is a WBS Dictionary Important?
A WBS dictionary is essential for effective project management for several reasons:
- Clarity and Understanding: It provides clarity on the scope and details of each deliverable, ensuring a common understanding among project stakeholders.
- Communication: The WBS dictionary facilitates effective communication between project team members, enabling clear and concise discussions about project components.
- Resource Planning: It assists in resource planning by specifying the required resources, responsibilities, and dependencies associated with each deliverable.
- Monitoring and Control: The WBS dictionary serves as a reference for monitoring and controlling project progress, as it outlines the expected outcomes and measurable criteria for each component.
- Documentation: It serves as a historical record of project components, their descriptions, and associated details, which can be valuable for future reference, audits, or similar projects.
How to Build Your Own WBS Dictionary
Follow these steps to create your own WBS dictionary:
- Identify Deliverables: Start by identifying all the major deliverables and components of your project. These can be broken down into smaller sub-deliverables if necessary.
- Define Deliverable Descriptions: For each deliverable, provide a clear and concise description. This description should outline the purpose, key features, and expected outcomes of the deliverable.
- Assign Responsibility: Specify the individuals or teams responsible for the completion of each deliverable. This ensures accountability and clarity of roles within the project.
- Outline Dependencies: Identify any dependencies between deliverables. This helps in understanding the sequencing and interdependencies of project components.
- Include Supporting Information: Consider adding additional details such as due dates, estimated effort, required resources, and any relevant notes or references.
- Maintain and Update: Regularly review and update the WBS dictionary throughout the project lifecycle to ensure its accuracy and relevance.
Why Do You Need A WBS Dictionary?
By outlining the specifics of the work package, the WBS Dictionary aims to mitigate scope creep. Because the scope of everything that has to be done inside a work package is specified within the WBS dictionary, all resources and team members will be aware of the scope, therefore helping them avoid doing superfluous, duplicate or out-of-scope work.
The Create WBS procedure yields the WBS Dictionary, which is one of the project deliverables. Every work package is linked to a WBS dictionary when the WBS is created to indicate what should be accomplished in the scope of that work package.
This Is What To Add To Your WBS Dictionary
And now that we have a definition and you know everything you can gain from having a WBS Dictionary, and why it’s important to make one as you follow the create WBS procedure, let’s hash out the details of what makes up a WBS dictionary so you can learn what you should include in yours.
Every piece of relevant and important information about the work package should be added, including the control account ID to which the work package belongs to, a work package ID, the date of update, and the accountable institution or person who will finish this work package while the project is active.
Detailed Descriptions Of Each Task
The WBS Dictionary’s Work Package Description section outlines what has to be done in complete detail. Basically, it is the scope of work that must be completed in order to finish the work package.
The acceptance Criteria section of your WBS Dictionary explains the terms and criteria under which the work package would be approved or rejected. These are usually deduced from all project specifications. For example, if a member’s login takes less than a couple of seconds, the user access mechanism work package is sure to be authorized and the work package completed. This is an example of a set of criteria for approval.
Deliverables And Goals
WBS Dictionary defines deliverables in this work stage as the smaller sections of goals and deadlines that will be created from the work package.
Any And All Assumptions
Things that are technically supposed to be true yet might end up not being as accurate are known as assumptions. This section must be filled out with all and any assumptions about the job package.
Name Your Resources
The companies or personnel who will carry out the work package activities are listed inside the Resources Assigned section of your WBS Dictionary. This field can contain the names of a department, employees, suppliers or even all of them depending on how your project is being organized.
Work Package Timeline
The duration part of your WBS Dictionary will mention the time it will take for the work package to be completed successfully from start to finish, a key part of scope management.
Detailed Schedule For Each Item On Your Work Package
The crucial points that must be passed when delivering a work package are included in the timeline objectives. Things like installation fulfillment, finalizing configurations, and customer satisfaction are examples of benchmarks for a work package.
Budget And Costs
The overall budget needed for the whole work package to be successfully finished should be allocated inside the cost area of your WBS Dictionary. The expenses of work packages are added together to determine the cost of control accounts, and the entire project budget is determined by adding the expenditures of control accounts.
Final Due Date
One of the last pieces of information you need to fill out in your WBS Dictionary is the scheduled date for the final deadline when your work package will need to be finished and delivered.
List All Interdependencies
Your work package’s precursors and descendants are listed in the Interdependencies section of your WBS Dictionary. When creating the project’s network diagram, these interrelations will become crucial. If a work package has any predecessors, you won’t be able to start the new one until the past ones are finished.
In a building project, for example, you wouldn’t be able to paint the inside of the structure without having completed the main foundations, erected the frame, and built the structural wall itself first. This type of dependency should always be recorded inside your WBS dictionary.
All Accepted Details
At the end of your WBS Dictionary, you’ll add the details that have been approved by your customer once the work package is done and presented, along with the date it was accepted.
What to Include in a WBS Dictionary
A comprehensive WBS dictionary should include the following elements:
- Deliverable ID: A unique identifier for each deliverable, often linked to the corresponding WBS component.
- Description: A clear and concise description of the deliverable, outlining its purpose, features, and outcomes.
- Responsibility: The individual or team responsible for the completion of the deliverable.
- Dependencies: Any dependencies or relationships with other deliverables or project components.
- Due Dates: Target dates for completing the deliverable.
- Estimated Effort: The estimated effort required to complete the deliverable.
- Resources: The resources, such as personnel, equipment, or materials, needed to accomplish the deliverable.
- Notes and References: Any additional information, notes, or references related to the deliverable.
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Try the first two modules of Brain Sensei’s story-based PMP and CAPM Exam Prep courses and a mini practice exam and see how it all works
Building a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) dictionary is a crucial step in effective project management. By creating a comprehensive reference guide that outlines deliverables, descriptions, responsibilities, and other essential details, you provide clarity, improve communication, and enhance control throughout the project lifecycle. Invest time in building and maintaining your WBS dictionary, and reap the benefits of improved project planning, execution, and success.
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