Monday, September 17, 2007

Get more out of your WBS

WBS is perhaps the most commonly used Project management tool. Here's how you can get more out of your WBS.

For people not having enough time for WBS - be prepared to lose time several times over for not having a well defined WBS

1. WBS is Deliverables based
-Make your WBS, deliverables (noun) based. e.g. include "Test report of module A" and not "Testing module A"
-Task list is only an extension (or next level) to the WBS.

2. Lowest level WBS elements are

3. How much to decompose?
-Deliverables are too big? modularize, decompose, top experts, whatever works.
-Each WBS element should be between 1 week to 4 weeks person weeks
-Bigger elements mean less accurate estimations, smaller mean overhead in monitoring.
-You'll find some standard project deliverables such as status reports which do not follow this thumb rule, include them anyways

4. What to include?
-Include product deliverables (Code, User documentation etc)
-Include project deliverables (Quality audits reports, Monthly review reports, Weekly status reports, WBS etc)
-Include only what is necessary & sufficient to complete the project, you're probably thinking about giving extras to the client, however a better strategy is to first complete what is necessary -Make your milestones WBS based, include milestones as WBS elements

5. How to use it?
-Communicate wrt WBS elements
-Assign WBS elements to resources, or a complete WBS package to a contractor
-Make your reporting WBS based, report earned values on WBS top level packages
-Creation of WBS can be a Team building exercise
-Estimate lowest level WBS elements for accurate estimates

6. More uses
-Supply the WBS dictionary with your WBS and see yourself spending less time on Scope control -Link your WBS elements to Finance accounts
-Whatever you want to do in the project use WBS :) Risk management, Change control etc
-Illustrate your project life cycle using WBS, decompose it phase wise

7. Remember to
-Get your WBS signed off by the client/sponsor or whoever is authorized to..
-Archive your project WBS to company repository (to show off your best practices :))

Remember that a WBS is the MOST important tool in Project Management practice. Not having a WBS indicates potential disaster for the Project