Scope Definition and Work Breakdown Structure

The two most important components are the Scope Definition and the Work Breakdown Structure, or WBS, for controlling and managing a successful project. These two components will be used throughout your entire project to ensure that all your work gets completed. They will act as control mechanisms throughout the project to ensure the success of the project.

Every project starts with a Scope Statement. The Scope Statement is then elaborated on by the Scope Definition. The Scope Definition divides the Scope Statement into major deliverables. These major deliverables are then broken down into the WBS. The WBS is a complete checklist of all the work that must be done so the project can be completed successfully. High-level categories of work are broken down into activities or tasks. Activities or tasks are then further broken down so you can assign a reasonable level of work effort to each activity or task. Many project management professionals use the 80-hour rule.

You can then apply resources, dates, and cost and assign an estimate to your activities or tasks once you have created the WBS. Some of the more common estimating techniques are Analogous (Top Down), Delphi (Bottom Up), and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (P.E.R.T.). Project management models utilize these estimating techniques to improve the accuracy of initial work effort estimates to shrink the variance gap between baselines and actual schedule and cost.

To ensure that you assign a reasonable estimate to your activities or tasks, you must make sure that they result in a deliverable and show action. For example, if part of the scope is to create End User training documentation then having a WBS item stating “End User Training Documentation” does not supply the action involved in that activity. A better alternative is to break down the WBS in a manner that ensures a more accurate estimate and understanding of the activity or task. A better alternative would be “Identify End User Training Requirements,” “Create initial draft of training manual,” and so forth. You need not worry about sequencing the activities or tasks at this time. The immediate concern is to ensure that all the activities and tasks are included. Sequencing will be done in a future level when you create the Activity Network Diagram.

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