The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The Project Work Breakdown Structure is an outcome oriented analysis of the work involved in the project and defines the total scope of the project. It is a foundation document in project management because it provides the basis for planning and managing the project schedule, budget and requests for changes. The WBS is developed in the form of an inverted tree structure, organized by objectives; it looks like an organizational chart which helps the project team visualize the whole project and all its main components.

The WBS is a hierarchy of all project work, it is a vertical breakdown, moving from the project goal to the tasks or subtasks. This decomposition process allows a good level of confidence in estimating the final project schedule and budget. It shows all the work that needs to be accomplished. The WBS contains 100% of all the work in the project.

At the top level is the project ultimate goal, the second level contains the project outcomes, the third level has the project outputs, and the fourth level with activities. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, the WBS may contain a fourth level that describe the tasks.

The size and complexity of a project will determine the number of levels a WBS needs. For some projects additional levels may be included to represent intermediate objectives. Other projects may choose to structure the WBS by the geographical locations the project will work or group the objectives by the communities participating in the project.

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is an important planning tool used to define a project in terms of its outputs while providing a method for breaking these deliverables into meaningful work units. The WBS allows the project manager to clearly describe the hierarchical nature of the work to be performed and establishes a foundation for other elements of the project planning documents including the project’s resource plan, budget, implementation plan, and project schedule.

With the WBS, the project manager will be able describe the outcomes of a project in a way that is clear to the project team, while at the same time capturing the order and sequence of the work necessary to produce those outputs. The WBS provides a means for carefully detailing the outputs of the project and facilitates the identification of specific the work elements, and groupings required to deliver each element.

 

 
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Characteristics of Development Projects

Development organizations vary in size and orientation, most share the common goal of helping people and benefiting society. There are the large development projects financed by governments and institutions such as the World Bank that focus on infrastructure and improvements in the education, health and justice systems, and international humanitarian organizations and national NGOs that support development activities ranging from community organization, welfare support, health, education, small-financial loans and protection of the environment.

NGOs typically are private, voluntary, non-profit and service-oriented organizations dedicated to helping improve people's welfare and quality of life.

The goal of all development projects is to help improve people's lives through skills training and other livelihood programs. Development organizations prepare and implement development projects and work to strengthen the capabilities of local institutional and promote community self-reliance through sustainable strategies. Funding for projects comes through private and public donations, government assistance and a variety of other sources. Development projects may consist of a single, transformative project to address a specific problem or a series of projects targeted at addressing several problems.

Although, development projects make significant contributions to a community’s socioeconomic development, they also have limitations. A larger number of national NGOs are small in both size and scope of operations and their impact sometimes is limited. NGOs can suffer from financial and technical constraints, often focused on a specific concern or a specific location; many lack a broader economic and social perspective. They are loosely structured and may have limited accountability and their management and planning methods may be weak or too flexible.

One of the key success factors of development projects is when their planning involves people who will benefit or be affected by the project. Beneficiaries need to play a larger role in the planning and implementation of development efforts that will reshape their lives. This is one of the reasons why development projects are gradually is moving away from traditional projects that rely on delivering direct services, and toward projects that include the participation of local organizations to deliver the services that will benefit the poor and other intended beneficiaries more directly.

Involvement of beneficiaries also increases the likelihood of development efforts realizing their intended benefits and can help avoid implementation problems. The concept of participation is concerned with ensuring that the intended beneficiaries of development projects are involved in the planning and implementation of those projects. This is considered important as it empowers the recipients of development projects to influence and manage their own development and helps remove any type of dependency after the project is completed. Beneficiary participation is widely considered to be one of the most important concepts in modern development theory.

 

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Contact information

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