Creating a detailed plan of action and establishing realistic deadlines is an indispensable component of every projects success. One of the ways to map out the project is to describe what should be done via the work breakdown structure (WBS). Effective leaders should also consider creating a Gantt chart prior to starting a project. The primary function of this chart is not only to list what should be done but to outline and visualize the deadlines. The difference between the WBS and the Gantt chart is that the former is a list of tasks that should be completed to achieve the set objectives, whereas the latter is a graph illustrating deadlines.
Work Breakdown Structure
The critical purpose of WBS lies in breaking down the entire project into smaller parts that could be easily managed and completed. In addition to that, WBS allows project managers to prioritize activities and estimate which of them are more arduous resource-intensive (Zecheru& Olaru, 2016). Therefore, the WBS presents a hierarchical outline of activities that team members should complete to finish the project successfully. There are two types of WBS: delivered-based and phase-based ones (WorkBreakdownStrucure.com). The first type “ demonstrates the relationship between the project deliverables (i.e., products, services or results) and the scope (i.e., work to be executed),” and the second one illustrates a projects phases (WorkBreakdownStrucure.com, para. 3). Regardless of which type of WBS managers are intended to create, first of all, they should analyze the documents, estimate the scope of work that should be performed, and distinguish project deliverables (WorkBreakdownStrucure.com). Then, it is necessary to identify the major steps of the project and decompose them into smaller tasks (WorkBreakdownStrucure.com). Besides, it is necessary to ensure that all employees can access the document with the WBS and are familiar with the meaning of each step and abbreviations.
Project tracking would be incomplete without creating a Gantt chart. That is because this graph “provides a graphical illustration of a schedule that helps to plan, coordinate, and track specific activities in a project” (Trojanowska & Dostatni, 2017, p. 87). This way, in order to create an appropriate Gantt chart, the manager should estimate the duration of each step of the project and outline the start and end dates. A Gantt chart contains the names of the tasks, start date, end date, and duration in days or months, depending on the peculiarities of the project. Furthermore, all steps are allocated on the chart precisely in the order in which they should be completed.
WBS and Gantt chart are powerful tools that ensure the successful analysis of a project regardless of the scope and field in which it is performed. For project managers, it is immensely important to accurately organize tasks and estimate the time required for the completion of each step. Without a doubt, a project manager cannot develop such a detailed plan independently from the team members and, thus, should consult with the key team members to ensure that all deadlines are realistic and none of the additional smaller steps are required. The Gantt chart is of particular significance because it visualizes what tasks should be done and when they should be completed. The development of detailed and deliberate WBS and Gantt chart could significantly affect the staff members’ performance and the overall project’s quality.
Trojanowska, J., & Dostatni, E. (2017). Application of the theory of constraints for project management. Management and Production Engineering Review, 8(3), 87-95.
WorkBreakdownStrucure.com. What is a Work Breakdown Structure?
Zecheru, V., & Olaru, B. G. (2016). Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Project Management. Review of International Comparative Management/Revista de Management Comparat International, 17(1), 61-69.