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Effective Software Project Management by Robert K. Wysocki Ph.D.

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Appendix E. The Work Breakdown Structure

Efficiency and economy imply employment of the right instrument and material as well as their right use in the right manner.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis, 1856-1941 U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Appendix Learning Objectives

After reading this appendix, you will be able to:

  • Recognize the difference between activities and tasks

  • Understand the importance of the completeness criteria to your ability to manage the work of the project

  • Explain the approaches to building the work breakdown structure

  • Generate a complete work breakdown structure

Note

Most of the material in this chapter is an abridged version of Chapter 4 from my earlier work Effective Project Management: Traditional, Adaptive, Extreme, Third Edition (Wiley, 2003). It is presented here for completeness so that this book may be used as a text for an introductory course in software project management. For courses requiring more detail on these topics the earlier work may be used as a companion text.

The foundation of the traditional approach to project management is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The WBS is a hierarchical description of the work that must be done to complete the project as defined in the Project Overview Statement (POS). With a WBS in place, the project team can go about the task of creating a comprehensive project plan including the schedule, resource requirements, and budget. As you will see, in many other project situations it is not possible to build a WBS, at least ...

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