Creating a WBS for the Project Duration
To help you create a WBS for your project, visit our Project Management Media Gallery and read Understanding and Creating a WBS. This Microsoft Word document offers a broader explanation of the WBS and how to use it.
Generally, a WBS should begin in two stages. The first stage is to hold a team meeting. At this meeting your first hierarchy level begins, the project title. From there your second stage contains descriptive details of all the deliverables that will need to be performed to complete the project and on what timeline. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, or PMBOK Guide, offers utilizing the 100% rule in your second stage of hierarchy. In other words, the WBS should define 100% of everything contained in your scope statement and project plan. Most project managers who utilize a WBS will realize a 90-95% goal, a highly acceptable level when using a work breakdown structure.
Once you've have the two hierarchy levels set, begin with the decomposition, or the breakdown of the deliverables of the project and set timelines. These deliverables, attached in tree form to the hierarchy, are considered work packages. Work packages should be constantly reviewed and monitored by the project manager and given a timeline upfront. The PMBOK Guide suggests a work package be no less than eight hours but no more than eighty hours.
The importance of defining a project's duration becomes something you and your team members can see, feel, and touch if you utilize a WBS in the project's lifecycle. Avoiding the all important work breakdown structure can be costly.