Project Management

WBS and Schedule Network Diagrams: Unsung Heroes of Project Management

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If I asked you how to bake a cake, you'd probably tell me to mix the ingredients in a bowl, pour the batter into a tin and bake until golden brown. But that's a deceptively simple answer for what is actually a multi-tiered process.

In project management, you must detail every step needed to get the project done and the precise order in which to complete them.

New project managers may not be used to doing things this way. Work breakdown structures (WBS) and schedule network diagrams can help them in forming a project management plan.

A WBS illustrates all of the work that needs to get done to accomplish the objectives of the project, in order of importance. To create a WBS, you subdivide project elements into manageable components and keep breaking them down until you reach the work package level.

A schedule network diagram visually depicts of how all the tasks in your schedule string together. While the WBS shows you how many tasks you have to accomplish, the schedule network diagram shows the order those tasks need to happen.

Most tasks people perform on a daily basis aren't explicitly dependent on the order in which they occur. And when order does matter, we usually engage in that activity naturally.

Our natural ability to skip details and abridge processes can save us time in everyday life. But this "normal" behavior could lead to disaster on a project where some tasks must precede or succeed others. Project managers might lose an opportunity to shorten schedules or see which tasks can run in parallel, for example.
 
Do you use a WBS or schedule network diagram in your projects?
Posted by Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina on: February 10, 2011 12:44 PM | Permalink

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