Work Breakdown Structures in
Six Sigma

A work breakdown structure is a hierarchical breakdown of the entire scope of work that the project team needs to complete. It divides the project's overall scope into smaller, more manageable components and organizes them. Deliverables serve to define these simpler components, which are then gradually expanded into more intricate layers as the project moves forward

Measurement Systems Evaluation

Understanding Work Breakdown in Project Management

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a vital tool in project management that provides a methodical way to break down large, complicated projects into smaller, easier-to-manage components. Better planning, organization, and control are made possible by the WBS, which acts as the cornerstone of the project by offering a visual and hierarchical depiction of its breadth.

Components of Work Breakdown Structures


A WBS uses a top-down methodology, starting with the primary project goal and subsequently dissecting it into more manageable, smaller deliverables. Sub-deliverables are further divided into these until the smallest work package is reached.

Work Packages:

The smallest units in the WBS, consist of a group of linked tasks required to finish a certain deliverable


Deliverables are the tangible or intangible goods, outcomes, or capacities the project is anticipated to create. The WBS is built around these deliverables. These deliverables serve as the WBS's foundational elements.

Principles of Work Breakdown (WBS)

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) operates on several fundamental principles that guide its creation and utilization:


Hierarchical Structure:

Subdivision: The project is broken down into smaller, more manageable components.
Hierarchy: It's organized in a top-down structure, starting with the main project deliverable and breaking down into smaller, more specific tasks and sub-tasks



Focus on Deliverables: Tasks are oriented towards the final deliverables of the project, allowing for a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved.


Mutually Exclusive Elements

Distinct Components: Each element in the WBS should be unique and non- overlapping to avoid confusion or duplication of effort.


Progressive Elaboration:

Evolving Nature: The WBS is not static; it evolves as the project progresses. New tasks might be added, and existing tasks might be refined or altered as more information becomes available


Control and Management:

Monitoring and Control: Helps in monitoring project progress, managing resources, and ensuring each task aligns with the project's objectives.


Clarity and Comprehensiveness

Clear Representation: It should be clear and understandable to all project stakeholders, depicting the entire scope of work.


Integration with Project Management:

Aligns with Project Plan: The WBS integrates with other project management processes, such as scheduling, budgeting, and resource allocation.



Adaptability: The WBS should be flexible enough to accommodate changes or unexpected developments within the project without necessitating a complete overhaul.


Continuous Improvement:

Refinement: Regular review and refinement of the WBS to ensure it remains aligned with project goals and reflects the most current understanding of the project's scope and requirements.

Benefits of using Work Breakdown Structures

Clarity and Understanding:

By providing team members with an organized and transparent perspective of the project's scope, the WBS aids in their comprehension of their specific roles within the project's larger framework

Control and Monitoring:

By using a work breakdown structure (WBS), project managers may effortlessly keep an eye on and manage the project's advancement, making sure it stays on schedule and within budget.

Improved Estimation and Planning:

It helps with precise estimation of the time, money, and resources needed for every job and deliverable, which promotes improved project management and planning.

Creating an Effective Work Breakdown Structure

Determine Project Scope:

To start, make sure you fully comprehend the goals, deliverables, and scope of the project. Involve stakeholders to obtain thorough insights.

Divide Deliverables:

Divide the primary project deliverables into more manageable, smaller jobs. Take a cooperative approach with important team members to guarantee a thorough breakdown.

Organise and Structure:

Put the tasks in a hierarchical order such that the breakdown is clear, thorough, and comprehensible.

Use the Right Tools:

Software like Microsoft Project, WBS Chart Pro, or even basic tools like Microsoft Excel can help create and visualize WBS.

Steps to create Work Breakdown Structure for effective project scope management

lucidity and openness

The scope, duties, and responsibilities of the project are clearly outlined in the WBS. It guarantees that all participants are aware of their responsibilities and the goals of the project

Effective Allocation of Resources

The project can be divided into smaller parts, which makes resource allocation easier to manage and improves time and effort efficiency

Better Control and Planning for Projects

Setting realistic deadlines and milestones with the help of WBS makes it possible to track and manage the project's development effectively.

Divide deliverables:

Separate deliverables into smaller, more achievable tasks: The primary deliverables that have been defined are further divided into smaller units of work, or work packages, with the assistance of the SMEs.

Allocate each sub-delivery:

Each team member is given a set of achievable tasks to complete after they have been outlined, and they are responsible for seeing that each task is completed. Each member of the team is given the authority, resources, and instruments necessary to complete the task at hand.

History of Work Breakdown Structures


1940s: During World War II, the Manhattan Project gave rise to the idea of a work breakdown structure (WBS). Due to the project's complexity and size, task and resource management required an organized strategy. To manage the complexities of the project, engineers and project managers created the first task breakdowns and hierarchical structures


The 1950s–1960s: The aerospace and defense sectors began to recognize theWBS. Similar hierarchical breakdowns were adopted by institutions such as the USDepartment of Defence for resource allocation and project management.
The 1960s–1970s: The WBS grew increasingly formalized as a result of thegrowth of the space program and intricate technological initiatives. It spread intoother industries after being incorporated into project management techniques andgaining traction outside of the aerospace and defense sectors.

Popularisation and Standardisation

The 1980s–1990s: The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and the establishment of the Project Management Institute (PMI) were two key project management approaches that helped standardize and popularise the WBS. During this time, the WBS was adopted by many sectors as a standard tool for project management.

Modern Applicability

2000s–Today: The WBS has continued to change as project management software and technology have advanced. To facilitate more dynamic, interactive, and cooperative approaches to project planning and administration, it is increasingly frequently developed and handled using specialized software.

Importance of Contemporary Project Management

These days, the WBS is an essential component of all project managementapproaches, including Six Sigma, Agile, and conventional project managementframeworks. It is now used in many different industries, including softwaredevelopment, healthcare, and construction. Planning, executing, and controllingbig projects effectively still depends on its hierarchical structure and breaking themdown into manageable parts.

As project management techniques adjust to shifting industries, technology, andthe increasing complexity of contemporary projects, the WBS's evolutioncontinues. Its past demonstrates the necessity of organized methods for overseeingsignificant undertakings, and the WBS is a key instrument that continues toinfluence project management today.

Use of Work Breakdown (WBS)

A work breakdown structure, or WBS, is a tool used by project managers for a variety of tasks

Definition of Scope:

By dividing the work into smaller, more manageable components, the WBS assists in defining and clarifying the project's scope.

Planning and Scheduling

A framework for project planning and scheduling is provided by the WBS. It enables project managers to plan how to carry out specific tasks as well as the project as a whole, assign resources, and estimate time.

Task Distribution and Obligations:

The WBS facilitates the distribution of duties and obligations among team members.

Resource Allocation:

By determining the resources required for every task or subtask, the WBS helps with resource allocation.

Communication and Involvement of Stakeholders:

The WBS offers an organized and pictorial depiction of the project. It simplifies the process of updating stakeholders on project specifics and advancement.

Budgeting and Cost Estimation:

Accurate budgeting and cost estimation are made possible by the WBS.

Effective Progress Tracking and Monitoring of Each Task and Subtask is Made Possible by the WBS.

Risk management:

By segmenting the project into smaller parts, the WBS assists in identifying and controlling project risks. This makes it possible to properly analyze possible hazards and to put plans in place for mitigating those risks.

Work Breakdown Structure in Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology for process improvement that makes use of several tools and techniques to find, evaluate, and fix problems in processes. The Work Breakdown Structure is one such crucial tool (WBS). A work breakdown structure, or WBS, is a hierarchical breakdown of the entire scope of work that needs to be completed by the team. It aids in the efficient planning, organizing, and management of the project

Role of Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Six Sigma

WBS is a key tool in the Define and Measure stages of the Six Sigma approach. It assists in defining the project's scope, organizing the strategy, and pinpointing important areas that require improvement. The technique of decomposing intricate jobs into smaller, more manageable components facilitates a better comprehension and implementation of strategies for process improvement

Implementation of Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Six Sigma

How to Create a Work Dissection Hierarchy

1. Establish the project's parameters and goals.

2. Divide the project into its main goals or results.

3. Divide the larger deliverables into smaller, more doable tasks.

4. Give each task a responsibility and an expected duration.

5. Throughout the project, periodically review and improve the WBS.

WBS's Hierarchical Structure

A well-designed work breakdown structure (WBS) demonstrates a hierarchical structure, with the primary project objective at the top and smaller tasks and subtasks at lower levels. This structure makes it easier to grasp the various parts of the project and makes sure that no important activities are missed.

Benefits of Work Breakdown in Six Sigma

Lucidity and openness

The scope, duties, and responsibilities of the project are clearly outlined in the WBS. It guarantees that all participants are aware of their responsibilities and the goals of the project.

Effective Allocation of Resources

The project can be divided into smaller parts, which makes resource allocation easier to manage and improves time and effort efficiency

Better Control and Planning for Projects

Setting realistic deadlines and milestones with the help of WBS makes it possible to track and manage the project's development effectively.


Construction Project

Level 1: Project
Site Development

Level 2: Site Development
Clearing and Demolition

Level 3: Foundation
Foundation Walls

Level 4: Slab
Pour Concrete
Cure Concrete

Software Development

Level 1: Software Development

Level 2: Requirements
User Stories
Use Case Diagrams System
Requirements Specification

Level 3: System Requirements
Functional Requirements
Non-Functional Requirements

Level 4: Non-Functional Requirements

Event Planning

Level 1: Event Planning
Pre-Event Preparation

Level 2: Pre-Event Preparation
Venue Booking
Logistics Marketing

Level 3: Marketing
Social Media Campaign
Print Media Campaign

Marketing Campaign

Level 1: Marketing Campaign
Campaign Strategy

Level 2: Campaign Strategy
Target Audience Analysis
Channel Selection
Content Creation

Level 3: Content Creation
Video Production

Healthcare Process Improvement

Level 1: Healthcare Process
Patient Care Enhancement

Level 2: Patient Care Enhancement
Workflow Analysis
Resource Allocation

Level 3: Training
Staff Training
Procedure Manuals


Work Breakdown Structures are an essential tool for efficient project managementand execution in the Six Sigma domain, where accuracy and process improvementare critical. Its methodical methodology facilitates process identification, analysis,and improvement, which eventually improves overall organizational performance.The WBS is not merely a static document; rather, it changes as the projectprogresses, guaranteeing a flexible and dynamic method of process managementthat adheres to Six Sigma concepts.

Work Dissection Project success under the Six Sigma framework is contingentupon the presence of structures. They offer a methodical approach to projectmanagement, supporting the discovery, examination, and enhancement ofprocedures to produce the best results.