During project planning, the Project Manager decides how to assign objectives, which tasks to complete as well as when and which specialists to include. In doing so, he or she creates the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

Work breakdown structure – table of contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Work Breakdown Structure
  3. Responsibility in the team (Team/Collective Ownership)
  4. Summary


An adequately conceived work breakdown structure (WBS) translates into a smooth team workflow. Each person involved will know the purpose of doing certain tasks, from whom they will receive assignments and to whom they should pass them on. It will ease spotting who is burdened with too much work, because, for example, three team members need help from one person simultaneously. Thus, WBS allows you to optimize the workflow process already at the planning stage. This provides a very important aspect of project work: team accountability for task completion. But how to plan the best work structure for the project?

Work Breakdown Structure

The structure of the division of labor is usually visualized employing a tree, on which the phases of the project life cycle are marked divided into increasingly detailed objectives. This makes it easier to plan the duration of tasks and the cost of completing them, as well as to appropriately distribute responsibilities among team members.

In doing so, remember that the WBS specifies what to implement, but does not answer the question of “how.” It is also worth noting the principle of limiting the level of detail. It depends on the type and formal requirements of the project. A different level of planning is required for the production of medical equipment or chemical reagents, and another for the organization of events or marketing campaigns.

The work breakdown structure is defined in the PMBOK as follows:

“A hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work to perform by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables.”

The word “total” is very important here, and the “100% rule” is related to it. This is because a well-laid-out WBS takes into account all the objectives of the project: exactly everything to accomplish. Including the project management itself. In other words, by reading the tasks from the lowest level of the tree, we list all the components of the superior level. This is a principle that is very difficult to follow in practice. However, it is often cited as an effective tool to prevent so-called Scope creep. Specifying everything to accomplish precludes the addition of new tasks that do not fit into the predefined project goals.

Responsibility in the team

The tasks carried out by the team are part of a final goal created by a joint effort. However, in many companies and projects, the visibility or even existence of this goal is not obvious. Therefore, a well-planned task structure and workflow that is clear to the project team is the basis for building collective responsibility.

Building a sense of team ownership (Team/Collective Ownership) allows team members to better understand the goals of the project and how the work done contributes to achieving those goals. This increases motivation and commitment and improves team performance. Commitment to the larger project and its successful completion also translates into employee loyalty to the company and a good atmosphere. In other words, a sense of responsibility within the team can contribute to better business results for the company as a whole.


The delegating task in a project is a task for a Project Manager when planning to effectively achieve goals. First, WBS helps to organize the scope of the project – to isolate groups of similar tasks, to notice the dependencies between them, which will determine the order in which they will be completed, and also to build the team’s responsibility for the tasks performed by presenting them in the context of smaller and larger goals pursued by the company.

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Work breakdown structure - how to effectively delegate work in a project? | #30 Getting started with project management caroline becker avatar 1background

Author: Caroline Becker

As a Project Manager, Caroline is an expert in finding new methods to design the best workflows and optimize processes. Her organizational skills and ability to work under time pressure make her the best person to turn complicated projects into reality.

The most important questions

  1. How to determine the appropriate depth of work breakdown in a project using the WBS tree?

    The depth of the WBS depends on: the scale, complexity and purpose of the project, as well as the preference and experience of the Project Manager - if he has already implemented a similar project, the depth of planning will likely be less. The WBS should be sufficiently detailed to enable management of the various elements of the project and facilitate planning and monitoring of work progress. At the same time, it should not be too elaborate, as it will be of little use. Too much detail will reduce its readability and may make it difficult for team members to understand the overall project. Typically, a WBS should be composed of 4–8 levels, but the final depth depends on the specifics of the project and the needs of the team.

Getting started with project management:

  1. What is a project?
  2. What is project management?
  3. How to manage projects?
  4. Project management methods
  5. Types of projects
  6. 4 examples of projects
  7. Prioritization of projects
  8. Areas of project activity
  9. Definition of success in project management
  10. Why use project management software?
  11. How to choose the best project management software?
  12. Overview of project management software
  13. Project life cycle
  14. What is the project vision for?
  15. Project goal. What is it and how to define it well?
  16. Project initiation phase - what to pay attention to?
  17. The domain of planning in project management
  18. What is a project schedule and what is it for?
  19. How to use milestones in a project?
  20. Project execution
  21. How to prepare a successful project contingency plan?
  22. Importance of project closure
  23. Project failure. 5 reasons why projects fail
  24. 4Ps of management: project, product, program and portfolio
  25. Most important tasks and responsibilities of the Project Manager
  26. Most useful project manager skills
  27. How to become a project manager?
  28. 5 books every project manager should read
  29. How to set up a project team?
  30. Work breakdown structure - how to delegate work in a project?
  31. How to lead a team during hybrid work?
  32. Challenges project managers face when working with a team
  33. Types of project meetings
  34. Project monitoring. What parameters to watch?
  35. How to write a compelling
  36. How to define the scope of a project and avoid scope creep?
  37. Feasibility study – can we implement this project?
  38. Risk analysis in projects and tools to facilitate it
  39. How to create a project charter?
  40. What is a stakeholder register?
  41. Gantt chart in project management planning
  42. How to create a project budget?
  43. Time management in project
  44. How to create a project risk register?
  45. Project risk management strategies
  46. Project marketing
  47. Sources and areas of change in the project
  48. Project management change models
  49. What's after Agile? Methods in project management