Planning a project
Planning a project

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Planning a project

5.2 Work breakdown

A work breakdown structure enables:

  • the work of a project to be divided into ‘packages’;

  • these ‘packages’ can be further subdivided into ‘elements’;

  • these elements are then divided into individual ‘tasks’.

This structure provides a basis for estimating the time and effort required. In a large project, the work breakdown structure might allow packages of work to be allocated to teams or team members so that they could identify and schedule the subtasks. The deliverables can be identified in the work breakdown structure so that all the activities can be seen to contribute towards achieving the deliverables. Involving the project team in constructing the work breakdown structure can be one of the initial team-building tasks and can provide the first opportunity to develop an understanding of the whole project.

Figure 6 shows part of the work breakdown structure for the data-collection package in the directory project. Note that a work breakdown structure does not usually show the necessary sequence of work, other than through grouping under the key stages.

Figure 6 Work breakdown structure for data collection package

As the work breakdown is considered, groups of activities might be identified that could be considered as mini projects in themselves. These can offer useful staff development opportunities for team leaders in appropriate areas of work.

Although the work breakdown structure should be kept simple by identifying substantive tasks rather than all of the subtasks, it is important to consider the team or staffing structure and key responsibilities at this stage.


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