Academic and Student Affairs

Planning – Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)



The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) organizes and defines the scope of the project, breaking it into manageable tasks.

  1. Identify your project planning team. This team identifies the project tasks that are needed to achieve the project deliverables, and is usually comprised of the project manager and the resources requested to complete the project tasks. Be sure to involve anyone who has a “stake” in the project outcome. If you are not sure who to contact, or have not received the requested project resources, work with your manager or project sponsor to identify the appropriate work group manager to join the planning team.
  2. With your project planning team, identify the tasks required to achieve the project deliverables. This is a list of “What” needs to be done. The level of detail is at your discretion.
  3. Identify “Who” owns each task. This should be the person ultimately responsible for completing the task, even though there may be others involved to assist in completing the task. If you don’t yet know the name of the person assigned to the task, then you can assign a role instead such as “Fiscal Specialist”. Later, revise the WBS with the name of the person filling the role.
  4. When an individual is assigned to a task (typically, by their manager but sometimes by the project manager), ask them to estimate the effort involved or the duration of the task, and identify any predecessor tasks that need completion prior to starting their task. You can use the effort or duration, plus predecessors, to generate a schedule of project tasks.
  5. Record the work breakdown structure, or tasks, using one of the WBS templates:

    There are a variety of software or web applications you can purchase or use for free (i.e. Microsoft Project, OneDrive Team Sites or TeamGantt) for more advanced work breakdown structures. For high level Gantt chart and timeline presentations, OfficeTime, is a useful application (plugin for Microsoft PowerPoint).

  6. Display the project WBS on the Project Plan. This is a living document for the duration of the project, as tasks are added, changed or completed and changes occur to resource assignments. Agree with your project sponsor on how often it must be reviewed and revised.
  7. Please contact the ASA PMO if you need assistance with your project WBS at