What is A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)?

A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is the hierarchical mapping of a project showing the tasks that must be completed in order to deliver on the project. Each level in the WBS and each task within each level is identified by a unique WBS code.

In simple terms a WBS is an outline or map of the specific project. The WBS starts with the project as the top level deliverable and is further broken down into a hierarchy of sub-deliverables.

Example of  A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)?

The following is a sample WBS for a house construction project, where the  finished house is the major deliverable. To complete  the house, sub-deliverables are identified which are  further decomposed until a single person or group  can be assigned to complete the task.

 

WBS Example

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WBS Codes

WBS codes are the codes that are used to number the tasks in the project.  By default, Microsoft Project automatically generates outline numbers for each task you create and stores these in the Outline Number field. Microsoft Project also has a WBS field, which in its default state, is equivalent to the Outline Number field. Both of these default fields are shown in the table below.

WBS Codes in Microsoft Project 2016

WBS Codes in Microsoft Project 2016

 

If your organisation has defined its own WBS numbering schema, you can create and use custom WBS codes by entering your company’s WBS format rules in the WBS mask.

If a work package (that is, a summary task and its list of tasks needed to produce the specific unit of work) is moved in the schedule, Microsoft Project will automatically renumber the WBS codes that are assigned to these tasks so that the top level numbers remain consecutive in the schedule. If you do not want Microsoft Project renumbering these codes, you will need to create and use custom WBS codes.

 

Creating WBS Codes

If your company has a WBS numbering schema, you can create custom WBS codes instead of using MS.Project’s default codes. To create custom WBS codes you can customise the WBS code format by using the WBS code mask. The mask contains numbers or characters for each outline level with separators between the levels.

1- Click on the View tab, click Tables in the Data group and ensure Entry is selected

Creating WBS Codes in Microsoft Project 2016 -2

 

2- Click on the Project tab, then click on WBS in the Properties group and select Define Code to display the WBS Code Definition dialog box

Creating WBS Codes in Microsoft Project 2016 -3

 

WBS Code Definition dialog box

Creating WBS Codes in Microsoft Project 2016 -1

 

3- Type B in Project Code Prefix  ( Let’s assume we’re building four houses (A-D) and this is the second house so we’ll prefix all codes with B…)

4- Click in the first Sequence field, click on the drop arrow and select Uppercase Letters (ordered), then select the dash symbol in Separator

 

 

Creating WBS Codes in Microsoft Project 2016 -4

You can have Microsoft Project generate new WBS codes for new tasks by selecting the first option( Generate WBS code for new task) . Selecting the second option ( Verify uniqueness of new WBS codes) gets Microsoft Project to verify the uniqueness of manually entered WBS codes as they are entered.

 

5- Repeat step 4 to create Level 2 as shown, ensure the two check boxes appear ticked, then click on [OK] .

Let’s insert the WBS column: Right-click on the  Outline Number column header, click on Insert Column, type w then click on WBS to insert this field

 

Creating WBS Codes in Microsoft Project 2016 -5

Our custom WBS codes have been automatically generated

 

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