Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) for Software Development

Do you have a web development idea? Want to convert it into a successful solution?

If so, you must have answers to these questions.

  • How much time and cost will it take to develop a project?
  • How many developers, designers, and testers will work on your project?
  • What type of features should be included in your project?

There is a document that can address all these questions for you.

WBS (known as a work breakdown structure)

What does the WBS document include?

Work breakdown structure (WBS) covers 100% scope of your project including time, cost, developers needed, sub tasks, operational tasks, inclusions and exclusions. To be precise, it divides a project into simple and manageable tasks.

As we have experience in developing wireframes for industries like food, transportation, and health, we decided to write a detailed guide on the WBS for software development and how it helps you.

At the end of this blog, you will get an in-depth idea on

  1. Time and cost it will take to develop a project
  2. Importance of WBS in software development
  3. What can you achieve with WBS?
  4. Different types of WBS structures
  5. What are the qualities of a good WBS?

Let’s start with the basics.

What is WBS in the Software Development Process?

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a visual representation of the total scopes, actions, and deliverables associated with a project based on your requirements.

Precisely, it defines the work needed to be completed to achieve the project goals and objectives. The goal of WBS is to make a larger project or a fixed-price project more manageable. With WBS, you get a document with detailed project cost estimations, resource allocation, and deliverables as per the milestones.

What does standard WBS include?

  1. Project breakdown showing when the task will be started and completed
  2. Payment milestones are divided into multiple work progress
  3. An additional cost is taken care of by you, inclusions, and exclusions of the project
  4. Features listing of the software
  5. General and technical specifications including design specification, platform support, and warranty
  6. Terms and conditions of hiring a dedicated team of developers

Let’s understand how much time it takes to create a WBS.

How Much Time Does it Take to Write a Work Breakdown Structure?

A time to write WBS takes around 2-5 days depending on the type of project you want to develop.

Since WBS is a hierarchical and high-level document, the more complex the project, the more time it takes to build one. Depending on the input from all significant contributors and the intricacy in its design, creating a work breakdown structure will require somewhere from a few days to sometimes weeks.

Even after the creation of the WBS, the work is not usually over. If priorities have changed in the initial stages (before the project has begun), then the WBS must reflect the same. If there is a technical barrier, those provisions must also be included in the WBS.

Hence, depending on the project and its expected outcome, a WBS will take more or less time to become a fully functional document. If you want the accurate WBS of your project, you can hire experienced software developers from a software development company who has already worked on different business verticals.

Want to Know the Time and Cost for Your Project?

Get in touch with us today. Our team analyses your project and provides you with WBS to know the time it takes to develop a project.

Till here you know the brief about WBS, but why it is important.

Let’s understand further.

What is the Importance of Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Software Development?

A work breakdown structure (WBS) document becomes integral in software development in all organizations. Massive and complex projects can only be completed when downsized to manageable components for teams to work on.

Some of the reasons why work breakdown structure (WBS) is important in software development include-

  • Budget estimation of the application.
  • Mapping out time constraints by proper timelines.
  • Assigning the right work to the team members.
  • Track the progress through different phases.
  • Recognize risk or technical difficulties early on.
  • Identify dependencies that involve tasks or main deliverables that are interconnected.
  • Identify the statement of work, the project scope statement, and its objectives.
  • Scope control and scope verification.

If you have clear requirements, get in touch with a leading software development company to get your WBS developed.

Let’s understand more about what you get while developing WBS for your project.

What Can You Achieve with the (Work Breakdown Structure) WBS in Software Development?

  1. Reduce the software development cost

    Utilizing a (work breakdown structure) WBS in development has far-reaching implications. An organization can heavily cut the costs of their projects when budget estimating, as the work breakdown structure (WBS) can give an accurate idea of the expenses it will incur. Additionally, for the development team, simplifying the work objectives improves the individual’s productivity.

  2. Scalable code

    When done right, a work breakdown structure (WBS) can prioritize the right functionality to focus on, thereby removing redundant components. This leads to better code that is comprehensive and logical which can be achieved in a consistent time block—yet another benefit of the work breakdown structure (WBS).

  3. Identifying work dependencies

    The work breakdown structure (WBS) document also helps teams to detect dependent work packages. These must be identified early on to better estimate the time of the project. Completing one task might be the only way to begin work on the other.

  4. WBS inevitably provides the project management team with a development schedule. Step-by-step achieving each specific deliverable will also give way to a sound timeline. Similarly, risks or technical difficulties are recognized earlier so that those gaps can be filled before the commencement of the project.

  5. Improves the Scope of Work

    Projects can only succeed with a good statement of work or SOW. In project management, SOW is established for every single project as it lays down the objectives, broad expectations, and main deliverables expected. Fortunately, a good work breakdown structure (WBS) can also be used to enhance the SOW and lead to better project success.

Now let’s understand who creates a WBS document.

Who is Responsible for Creating a WBS Document?

A Business Analyst creates a WBS of the project after conducting the meeting and understanding the requirements with you.

Depending on the project requirements, business analysts determine the type, levels, timeline, effort required, etc. in regards to the WBS.

However, the knowledge of the project manager and client is pooled to create such a document which forms the foundation of the software development process. We have an in-house team of Business Analysts. With the help of our in-house team members, we have completed successful projects like meat processing solution, aviation maintenance solution, and event management website.

So you now know, which team member is responsible for WBS.

Let’s understand what is the charge for creating a WBS.

Do Companies Charge for Creating a WBS, or is it Free?

It depends on the software development company you are approaching.

At Space-O, we do not charge anything to create a WBS. However, most companies create WBS if the companies are aware of the technologies, and your requirements, and have enough resources to carry out your project.

Most organizations begin with creating WBS as the first deliverable of a project. It is created by BA and is a requirement for larger projects. Building out a WBS is an integral part of the responsibilities of a project manager and does not incur additional costs to human resources.

With that being said, organizations depend on several tools that can make WBS creation an easier process. Many software companies have developed tools for the same and charge a fee or a subscription.

Small projects may not require such tools, but they become a necessity for larger projects. Some popular tools are Lucidchart, WBS Schedule Pro, ProjectManager, and more.

Software tools such as the ones mentioned simplify the creation of WBS with their interactive UI and functionalities. They also open up the avenue for collaboration as large teams with multiple project managers can simultaneously work on a single WBS document easily.

How Much Do Companies Charge for Creating a WBS Document?

The charge to create your WBS depends on the project requirements. However, the charge is dependent on the tool companies use.

Here’s the list of software tools that organizations can use to build out a WBS document and their pricing information. Some of these are also fully-fledged project management tools and can be used if you see fit in your project.

Tools to Create WBSPricing
Lucidchart
  • Individual version for $7.95
  • Team version for $9 per user
Monday
  • Standard version for $10 per user per month
  • Pro version for $16 per user per month
  • Enterprise version upon contacting sales
ProjectManager
  • Team version for $11.50 per user per month
  • Business version for $20.50 per user per month
  • Enterprise version upon contacting the sales team
WBS Schedule Pro
  • WBS Version for $199 per license
Creately
  • Team version for $4.80 per user per month
  • Enterprise version with custom pricing
EdrawMax
  • Lifetime plan for $245
  • Subscription plan for $99 per year
Wrike
  • Professional version for $9.80 per user per month
  • Business version for $24.80 per user per month
Microsoft Visio
  • Monthly/annual subscription or one-time purchase available
EasyProjects
  • Team plan for $12.58 per month
  • Enterprise plan for custom pricing
TeamGantt
  • Standard plan for $19.90 per user per month
  • Advanced plan for $24.45 per user per month

How to Read a WBS Document?

As you may now understand, WBS is a simple document to understand with its figurative representation. But these blocks and lines are not enough to comprehend the meaning of every work package.

A WBS dictionary is created and used by software development teams as additional support for WBS. A WBS dictionary explains in detail the information regarding each level, task, deliverable, and more. Essential details like the project’s scope are explained in the WBS dictionary.

Being a visual tool, the WBS has certain limitations in the information it can convey. This is why a WBS dictionary becomes an integral companion to the document. Information that cannot be explained in length in the WBS is included within the dictionary for quick access.

It is essential to understand that the dictionary only contains brief and important descriptions regarding terms defined in the WBS. It is not a lengthy document and may also contain information about the number of resources, the assignment of tasks, completion dates, and more.

Certain project tasks may also have dependencies that are mentioned in the dictionary. Together with the WBS, the WBS dictionary gives all information regarding the project from start to finish.

Till here, you know the nitty-gritty about WBS. Let’s even check how WBS can be made.

What are the Qualities of a Good WBS Document?

A functional WBS document must be-

  • Clearly defined—important stakeholders, including the developers, must understand each detail.
  • Easily accessible by all members.
  • Remove all unwanted confusion via its visual representation.
  • Specific in terms of the outcomes expected.
  • Makes time and cost estimates of each task and the project as a whole simple.
  • Adaptable to fit in slight changes in priority without compromising the progress of the developing team.
  • Acts as guidance to the team and is measurable and manageable.

Now let’s further discuss what are the advantages of having WBS for your business.

What are the Advantages of Having a WBS Document During Software Development?

First and foremost, the biggest advantage of a WBS is its diagrammatic representation. The structure is much more readily acceptable in its visual format, unlike long windy explanations of many processes. This also makes it more manageable and easy to navigate.

Secondly, expectations can be easily managed through a WBS. This means work and project status are clearly defined, removing all other blockages to productivity.

Since software projects have to follow a certain development lifecycle, WBS can map out the different levels and phases beforehand, whether the team prefers agile development or not.

WBS documents also contribute to good communication among team members. Great collaboration while creating the document will also lead the way to better understanding during the development.

Lastly, teams brainstorming about the deliverables will also be able to uncover functionalities that they may have missed initially. This is why WBS becomes a crucial document for the overall sound development of a software product or service.

Where to find examples of good WBS for software development project?

Many project management tools provide templates of WBS for software development. Popular tools like Lucidchart, ProjectManager, and more provide wbs template for the same. They also provide comprehensive wbs examples of other software products built with WBS.

If you are a novice at project management and in the process of creating your first ever WBS, then you can learn from work breakdown structure examples available on blogs such as GanttPro, Lucidchart, and more.

By scouring the internet, you will come across many examples, but not all will fit your requirements. To avoid confusion and unnecessary headache, always check out the official websites of project management tools for valuable examples.

Which are the Different Types of (Work Breakdown Structure) WBS Structures?

Work breakdown structure (WBS) documents are mainly divided into two types — process-oriented and deliverable-oriented. The main distinction occurs in the deliverables expected out of the project.

TypeDescription
Process-oriented

Software development is broken down in terms of tasks, functions, or phases. The work is itself broken down into individual sets where each block is a task to be completed.

The work package in this case is the simplest task that can be achieved in the least amount of time.

Deliverable-oriented

The project is defined in terms of the smaller components that are delivered through each phase of the work. Unlike process-oriented, this type of work breakdown structure (WBS) focuses on the actual concrete item and not the process it takes to achieve it.

The work package in a deliverable-oriented work breakdown structure (WBS) is the smallest functionality, component or part that can be delivered.

Based on the type of work breakdown structure (WBS) that your project requires, diagrams can be created in different chart formats like structure lists, tree diagrams, or Gantt charts. This is based on the preference of the project management team.

Whether you want a simple list of tasks and deliverables through a work breakdown structure (WBS) list, a tree depiction of phases, tasks, and work packages (the most common work breakdown structure diagram), or a sophisticated timeline view with an inbuilt spreadsheet through a Gantt chart, the choices are many.

Want to Validate Your Software Development Idea?

Get in touch with us. We have experienced software development consultants who understand various technologies like PHP, Python, and Java.

What are the Core Elements of the WBS Document?

Every WBS document has a few core WBS elements that make up the structure. These elements are present in all WBS and are vital for diagrammatic representation.

  1. Levels

  2. As mentioned previously, each work breakdown structure (WBS) is a hierarchical structure of numerous levels. Depending on the complexity of a software project, the intensity of these levels increases. For a large project, for instance, there may be many levels as seen fit by the project manager.

  3. Phases

  4. Project phases can be defined as the different stages of an entire project. Since some projects require that the project team divide the project into phases or legs, this phase-based work breakdown structure is preferred. For instance, some of the phases could be ‘initiation’, ‘project planning’, design’, and other tasks. The first level of this type of work breakdown structure (WBS) will contain these project phases as the base.

  5. Deliverables

  6. Deliverables are simply the outcome of the project. This is different at each phase or level of development and will depend on the task executed. Remember that a deliverable is a particular goal that the project team must achieve.

  7. Tasks

  8. In a project-oriented work breakdown structure (WBS), the structure comprises tasks to be carried out. The deliverable is not an outcome but a series of work that should be completed. Each level will then be divided into manageable (collective and individual) tasks that must be completed within time.

  9. Work Packages

  10. The final level of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is the work package. It is the quickest task that can be completed or the fastest milestone that can be achieved. Since work packages are the smallest unit in a work breakdown structure (WBS), the time deadline for it usually does not exceed more than 80 hours.

  11. WBS Dictionary

  12. It is a document that accompanies every work breakdown structure (WBS) diagram with detailed information regarding each level, phase, task, and deliverables. All information that cannot fit into the diagrammatic representation of the work breakdown structure (WBS) is included in the dictionary for better understanding.

What are the Stages After WBS in Software Development?

Once the WBS is created and ready to be utilized, the project manager and the team will create a schedule for achieving the project deliverables outlined in the WBS. For instance, many software development teams follow agile development, where work is commenced in two-week sprints. In such cases, a project schedule must be created and assigned to the appropriate team member.

During this process, tasks are assigned depending on the resource’s technical skillset and the time duration. Each low-level deliverable or task in the WBS is given a minimum of 8 hours and a maximum of 80 hours of completion time.

If the work proves to be complicated or the resources cannot finish it in time, it indicates the presence of an anomaly in the WBS. This means the task or deliverable was not adequately divided into smaller parts.

Such situations are faced by teams more often than not, which is why the WBS needs to be a flexible document. After a proper schedule is drawn up, the next step is for teams to commence the design or coding process of the whole project.

Above, we have explained everything about what, why, how, and when WBS is needed for your business. Let’s start making your WBS.

FAQ About WBS Document

  1. What are the problems you face while creating a WBS document?

  2. Here are some of the problems that BA faces when creating a WBS document.

    • Unable to decide how much detailing is needed
    • Unable to decide what type of details are required
    • Getting confused to sequence the work
    • Not grouping activities perfectly with work packages
  3. What are the tools available to create a WBS document?

  4. The following application tools help BA in creating a WBS document.

    • Lucidchat
    • Flowchart
    • Google Spreadsheet
    • List

Want to Start Your Project with a Detailed WBS Document?

To wrap it up neatly, WBS is a document prepared through the culmination of the efforts of many. It is an essential tool for project management that clearly defines the goals and outcomes of a complex project.

In addition, WBS helps teams focus on their tasks and improves the team members’ productivity. It is also easier to understand as it does not deal with unfamiliar technical jargon.

Although the BA team initiates the creation of WBS, everyone contributes to making it a functional piece of guiding material. The WBS is crucial for effort, time and cost estimation.

It is designed to reach each deliverable through many levels of division of work until we get to the simplest and indivisible requirement.

Organizations that decide to invest the time to create a WBS will see their efforts bear fruit manifold, making WBS an indispensable step in any project management.

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Rakesh Patel

Written by

Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies. He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311.