Multidimensional WBS structures
We are part of the ISO standardization of WBS, and have just returned from an ISO meeting in Paris, where the upcoming WBS standard ISO 21 511 is scheduled to launch during the second part of 2018. An recent, but important change, to the standard, is the support for non-hierarchical aspects of the WBS. Some type of work in a project may be ”overhead”, applying to other parts of the structure itself. Project management is a typical example of this, and is therefore often placed as a top node of a WBS, being a ”service” to the rest of the project. Using this principle, it is possible to break out a lot of the recurring work from other parts of the tree, reducing this second dimension to a part of the tree itself.
Another possibility of getting another dimension on the WBS is to integrate the WBS with another structure, such as an OBS (organizational breakdown structure). This mapping then describes which resources that are responsible for each part of the tree. It is also possible to integrate with other data or structures, such as risks, location, specialization or issues. These mappings provide valuable additional information and views on the project that better describes areas of concern, progress or just being able to focus on a specific aspect of the project.
In breakdownstructure.com, it is possible to use tags to get a second dimension through the use of tags. You could set up tags for group responsibility (team1, team2), risks (high-risk, low-risk), urgency (urgent, next-action), issues (defect, bug, change-request), location (building1, south-area) and many more. Tags can then be used to filter on the appropriate card, and are retained when exporting to other tools.
We are also working on refining different perspectives on the project, and soon we will launch a feature, where an individual can view all cards that he is responsible for in all projects. There are many things that can be done in this area, and we will ensure that we implement as powerful features as possible while still ensuring that the tool is easy to use, which have always been our first priority.
Here are some suggested further resources to learn even more about WBS:
- The Ultimate Guide to Work Breakdown Structure, by projectmanager.com
- Work Breakdown Structures, by Norman
- Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures, by PMI