Pin Me

Create Clarity in Your Project with WBS and Scope Definitions

written by: eschulze • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 7/21/2013

The Work Breakdown Structure approach to project management relies on carefully created scope definitions. When a project manager creates the WBS it should be with the scope definitions in mind.

  • slide 1 of 4

    Scope of Work

    The scope of work defined in a project provides the clarity needed for a cohesive work breakdown structure (WBS). It is essential to Teamwork carefully create the scope definitions with the WBS in mind. Always review the scope of work first. Think about how it relates to the WBS you will be creating, and how you will use the information later in the project. Scope definitions should be very detailed and technical to reduce error. The benefit of a WBS is that it shows visual representation of the total scope in the different layers of your project.

  • slide 2 of 4


    You must also consider the eventual grouping of task elements so that work is clearly defined in the scope. This will allow for mapping of specifics. Also, provide data for performance measurements that the contractors and team members can understand - remember your goal is to create clarity. In your approach to project management, keep the overall WBS clearly defined. Use similar templates for all contracts so communication is clear and straightforward.

  • slide 3 of 4

    Limit the WBS

    Keep the WBS level structure limited to 7 to 9 terminal elements per scope of work. It has been proven that any more than that can become overwhelming; thus the project management loses focus and the project becomes cluttered.

    Clearly defined projects are attributed to a clearly defined scope. Scopes define the boundaries of your project. They determine who and what will be included and what will not. When defining your scope, remember to consider the impact on the project. Don't allow fuzzy objectives to enter into the scope.

  • slide 4 of 4

    Building Your Project

    When creating your WBS, begin with the scope of work and insert defined terminal elements into the WBS. Structure your spreadsheet carefully, allowing several levels of detail in the WBS. Where possible, insert pay points as milestones making your tracking coordinate with accounting.

    The ability to integrate different aspects of your project into a single cohesive plan will benefit your team and set you apart from other project managers.