Project Management

WBS Analysis

Kenneth has 14 years of healthcare experience in government and private industry. Over eight years of experience managing healthcare IT projects, operations, contracts, and personnel. His work experience includes project management, contracts and procurements, data analysis, claims adjudication, business writing, and business process modeling. Kenneth was certified in 2006 as a Project Management Professional.

The first step in defining a project is to create a scope statement. Once that is done, many teams jump ahead to the project plan, either skipping the work breakdown structure or merging it with the project plan. Creating a WBS for the project and refining it until it can be used as the pattern for the project plan may seem like overkill for some projects, but in fact the WBS can help create a schedule that fully supports the work of the project.

There are some tools of analysis that can help with the WBS. The first step is to take the scope statement--the purpose of the project--and break it down into the steps needed to fulfill the scope; this creates the WBS. The second step is to take the WBS and turn it into the first draft of the project plan. Just as data analysis takes unorganized data and turns it into something useful, the WBS takes the scope and turns it into a useful project plan.

Tearing the WBS Apart
Creating the work breakdown structure is an exercise in analysis itself. The project team needs to take the information from the scope statement and break it down into workable chunks or activities. In order to do this, the project team must understand the scope and what is needed to fulfill the stated purpose of the project. PMBOK describes this activity as decomposition, and it often involves quite a bit of brainstorming work to create work packages--…

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