Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary
The WBS Dictionary is a table or spreadsheet that is organized by project tasks and contains all project planning details.
When to use
Small/Focused Projects: The WBS Dictionary is an ideal tool for consolidating and communicating the project plan on small or focused projects. The entire project plan can be presented in one table.
Large/Complex Projects: The WBS Dictionary is useful on large or complex projects for summarizing a portion of the project such as a phase or all the activities required to support a major deliverable. The technique becomes unwieldy when the table grows to include hundreds of tasks. At that point project management software should be used, most of which includes a WBS Dictionary display.
- Determine the column headings for documenting the plan. There should be at least one column for the task description, normally at least two columns for the schedule – those being the start and finish date for the task, and at least one column for resources – either personnel or budget.
- Determine the column headings for managing the project. There should be at least one column for current status. Often there are columns for items such as risk, variance, or relationships with other tasks.
- List each of the project deliverables. If the project is managed in phases, list each phase and the deliverables for that phase.
- List each task that must be accomplished to complete each deliverable under the respective deliverable - use deliverables deployment to assist with this effort.
- As the project plan is developed, insert the planning information into the appropriate cell in the table.
- As the project progresses, insert the status information into the appropriate cell in the table.
- WBS Dictionary: “A document that provides detailed deliverable, activity, and scheduling information about each component in the Work Breakdown Structure.” PMBOK® Guide
This definition is taken from the Glossary of the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2017.
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