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Work Breakdown Structure

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The PMBOK guide defines it as a hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work, to meet the objectives of the project and create the required deliverables.

Said in a more understandable way, a Work Breakdown Structure, hereinafter WBS, defines all the elements that a project must achieve, represented graphically, organized at different levels and numbered sequentially.

The WBS is represented as a hierarchical structure, similar to an organizational chart, in which the name of the project is at the top level.

The next level consists of all deliverables for the project.

The following levels divide the deliverables into smaller pieces of work, until they reach the appropriate level to lead the project, called Work Packages.

In the creation of the WBS must participate the people of the team that'll be responsible for completing the task.

Why should I create an WBS in all my projects?

There are several reasons to create it, even in small projects:

1. It will help you define and organize precisely the scope of the project. Through the use of a hierarchical tree structure, in which each level, divides the project deliverables into manageable and measurable parts.

2. The WBS is the basis of the project schedule and budget. Once we know all the deliverables necessary to complete the project and its hierarchical relationships, it's easier to allocate the appropriate resources and provide accurate estimates of the duration, and of the cost of completing the project.

3. It's an excellent communication tool. The participation of the team and the interested parties will help to obtain their acceptance. And also, seeing the graphic representation of the WBS, any interested party, will be able to fully understand the project.

4. It will help prevent work from being skipped or overlapping. The creation of the WBS, in the form of a hierarchical diagram, provides a structured view of the project and helps ensure that deliverables aren't forgotten.

5. It will serve as a reference for future projects in which an WBS must be used. Once the first WBS template is created, it will guide you in future projects.

6. It will facilitate the control of changes in your project. Establishing a sequential numbering of all the components of the WBS, will allow to create a traceability between the requirements of the project, the deliverables, and those parts that will be affected by the changes in the project.

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