Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) – Quick Tip #4

Don't reinvent the wheel.... or an entirely brand new WBS.


One of your most powerful tools as a project manager is the ability to “R&D”, or Rip-off and Duplicate from other, previous projects that are similar to yours. When it comes to capturing all the scope on a new project, look around and see if you can use a WBS from a similar project as a starting point, both for identifying scope as well as organizing it.

You can also copy templates that are used in your specific industry or field. The obvious benefit in doing this is it gives you a leg up, or starting point in the process. Potential downsides, however, include a) all projects by definition are unique, so the WBS for one project won’t map fully to another; and b) organizational and content problems get carried over from project to the next, essentially “in-breeding” errors and omissions. You should definitely consider R&D’ing from other, similar projects, but remember to be judicious about it. Treat it as a starting point, then make it your own.

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