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Work Breakdown Structure

Work Breakdown Structure

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Published by: ✬ SHANZA MALIK ✬ on Jan 15, 2011
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04/11/2013

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Work Breakdown Structure
A complex project is made manageable by first breaking it down into individualcomponents in a hierarchical structure, known as the work breakdown structure, or the WBS.Such a structure defines tasks that can be completed independently of other tasks, facilitatingresource allocation, assignment of responsibilities, and measurement and control of the project.The Work Breakdown Structure can be illustrated in a block Diagram:
 
Because the WBS is a hierarchical structure, it may be conveyed in outline form:
Work Breakdown Structure Outline:
 
Level 1Level 2Level 3Task 1Subtask 1.1Work Package 1.1.1Work Package 1.1.2Work Package 1.1.3Subtask 1.2Work Package 1.2.1Work Package 1.2.2Work Package 1.2.3Task 2Subtask 2.1Work Package 2.1.1Work Package 2.1.2Work Package 2.1.3 
 
Terminology for Different Levels
Each organization uses its own terminology for classifying WBS components accordingto their level in the hierarchy. For example, some organizations refer to different levels as tasks,sub-tasks, and work packages, as shown in the above outline. Others use the terms phases,entries, and activities.
Organization by Deliverables or Phases
The WBS may be organized around deliverables or phases of the project life cycle.Higher levels in the structure generally are performed by groups. The lowest level in thehierarchy often comprises activities performed by individuals, though a WBS that emphasizesdeliverables does not necessarily specify activities.
Level of Detail
The breaking down of a project into its component parts facilitates resource allocationand the assignment of individual responsibilities. Care should be taken to use a proper level of detail when creating the WBS. On the one extreme, a very high level of detail is likely to resultin micro-management. On the other extreme, the tasks may become too large to manageeffectively. Defining tasks so that their duration is between several days and a few months workswell for most projects. 
WBS's Role in Project Planning
The work breakdown structure is the foundation of project planning. It is developed before dependencies are identified and activity durations are estimated. The WBS can be used toidentify the tasks in the CPM and PERT project planning models.
 
Henry Laurence Gantt
Henry Laurence Gantt (1861-1919) was a mechanical engineer and managementconsultant who is most famous for developing the Gantt chart in the 1910s. These Gantt chartswere employed on major infrastructure projects including the Hoover Dam and Interstatehighway system.Henry Laurence Gantt's legacy to management is the Gantt chart. Accepted as acommonplace project management tool today, it was an innovation of world-wide importance inthe 1920s. But the Chart was not Gantt's only legacy; he was also a forerunner of the HumanRelations School of management and an early spokesman for the social responsibility of  business.
Life and carrier
Henry L Gantt was born into a family of prosperous farmers in Maryland in 1861. Hisearly years, however, were marked by some deprivation as the Civil War brought about changesto the family fortunes. He graduated from Johns Hopkins College and was a teacher before becoming a draughtsman in 1884 and qualifying as a mechanical engineer. From 1887 to 1893he worked at the Midvale Steel Company in Philadelphia, where he became Assistant to theChief Engineer (FW Taylor) and then Superintendent of the Casting Department. Gantt andTaylor worked well in their early years together.
Gantt chart
During the era of scientific management, Henry Gantt developed a tool for displaying the progression of a project in the form of a specialized chart. An early application was the trackingof the progress of ship building projects. Today, Gantt's scheduling tool takes the form of ahorizontal bar graph and is known as a Gantt chart, a basic sample of which is shown below:
Gantt chart FormatTaskDuration Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec12 mo.22 mo.32 mo.42 mo.52 mo.62 mo.
The horizontal axis of the Gantt chart is a time scale, expressed either in absolute time or in relative time referenced to the beginning of the project. The time resolution depends on the project - the time unit typically is in weeks or months. Rows of bars in the chart show the beginning and ending dates of the individual tasks in the project. In the above example, each task is shown to begin when the task above it completes.However, the bars may overlap in cases where a task can begin before the completion of another,

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