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Work Breakdown Structure – Musings – Part 2

April 30, 2010

I recommend reading Work Breakdown Structure – Musings Part -1, before continuing on to part 2.

We left off with the team positioning post-its® on the wall; grouping them according to relationships and dependencies.  I usually put flip chart size post-its® up on the wall first and arrange the smaller post-its® on the flip chart post-its®.  Starting from left and working from top to bottom and to the right, the post-its®* or groups of post-its® should be put up on the wall.

As we move across the wall from left to right, we are sequencing the events. Tasks and activities that can be done at the same time are positioned from top to bottom on the wall.  Once the team is satisfied with the positioning and sequencing of all of the post-its®, I use strips of cellophane tape to tape the post-its® to the larger flip chart post-its®.

At this point I start putting numbers in the upper right hand corner.  I use the standard WBS numbering system of 1, 1.1., 1.1.1 to show hierachies of related tasks and activities.  For example:

1 Create Widget

1.1 Design Widget

1.2 Prototype Widget

1.2.1 Review widget

1.3 Produce widget

1.4 Test widget

1.4.1 Analyze widget defects

1.4.2 Fix widget defects

I number the tasks and activities sequentially and chronologically, so that the tasks and activities are numbered in the order that they should be done.  I put these tasks into my project management tool (i.e. MS Project, Planview, Primavera) in the order that I have numbered them.

Since I have done this for a while, I am often able to identify when tasks are missing or incomplete, or if the organization of the work does not make sense.  As you and the team repeatedly look at and organize the tasks and activities, a logical order will present itself.  It is not magic and may require several reviews to get it right.  It is not a perfect science and every project is different.

The important point is to keep working with the post-its® until you are satisfied with the sequencing of tasks and activities.  Making the changes  in project management tools is not as easy as moving post-its® around and project management tools are more linear in design than the post-its® method.

Don’t worry, I have more to share.


Work Breakdown Structure – Musings Part -1

Work Breakdown Structures

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) Dictionary

*this is not an advertisement for post-its®.  At this point in time, I do not advertise or accept advertising of any kind on this blog.  I have no affiliation with 3M or post-its®, I simply love the product (all the shapes and sizes) and use them regularly.  When I mention products or services by name, it is because I use/buy them.  I buy them with my own hard-earned money.

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