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The PMP Certification Exam will expect you to have a working knowledge of the create WBS outputs. Here are a couple of samples of a WBS for a childcare center so you can see different approaches. This WBS is decomposed by major deliverables.

A Work Breakdown Schedule decomposed by major deliverables.

This WBS is arranged by phases.

Work Breakdown Schedule arranged by phases

Either approach to the WBS will work. Maybe you would arrange it differently. There is no one correct way to arrange your WBS. The point is to make sure all the work is represented in the deliverables with nothing left out. It should be complete and logical, and help you manage and control your project. So set it up in a way that works for you and your team.

Note, too, that the WBS samples are presented in outline format. Many times, people start with sticky notes and develop a WBS that looks like an organizational chart. You can do that down to about three levels (or about 50 sticky notes) before it gets too unwieldy. Still, this approach is a good way to get a global picture of the project.

WBS dictionary

Your WBS is a key output of this process, but there are others. The WBS dictionary is an output that’s used on larger projects to provide a detailed explanation for each component of the WBS.

Work breakdown structure dictionary. A document that provides detailed deliverable, activity, and scheduling information about each component in the work breakdown structure.

For each WBS component, the WBS dictionary includes a brief definition of the scope or statement of work, defined deliverable(s), a list of associated activities, and a list of milestones. Other information may include responsible organization, start and end dates, resources required, an estimate of cost, charge number, contract information, quality requirements, and technical references to facilitate performance of the work.

You won’t need a WBS dictionary for all projects, but a WBS dictionary is helpful as a communication tool for large projects to make sure that all the details of a work package are fully understood.

WBS Dictionary form.

Scope baseline

The scope baseline is composed of three elements: the scope statement, the WBS, and the WBS dictionary. This is the sum total of the project scope, and is part of the project management plan. Any changes to project or product scope will impact one or more of the elements in the scope baseline, and most likely many other project documents as well.

Scope baseline. The approved version of a scope statement, work breakdown structure (WBS), and its associated WBS dictionary, that can be changed only through formal change control procedures and is used as a basis for comparison.

The scope baseline should be tightly controlled after it’s agreed upon.

When creating your WBS, WBS dictionary, and scope baseline, you might need to go back and update or modify other project documents.

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