Free Work Breakdown Structure Templates [Word, Excel, PDF]

free work breakdown structure template 8

Work breakdown structure template is an essential tool that helps the organizations in keeping the whole project organized so that everyone involved in the project would be able to carry it without difficulty. With the help of template, you can make work breakdown structure more efficiently.

What is a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)?

A WBS is a hierarchal decomposition that visualizes the definition of the whole project scope. It divides the project into manageable sections which would be more understandable to all the members of the project team. Each section contains the enough information and details that make the project more comprehensive.

Moreover, in the hierarchy, you have to start with the top-level deliverable then would continue on to smaller sub-deliveries. The most important deliverables come first and then divide into smaller, more manageable sections, and sub-deliverables. At the bottom of this document, task of each member is assigned. A WBS is highly useful for the large projects that involve many components or processes.

Different types of Work Breakdown Structure:

Let us discuss some different types of work breakdown structure and you can use them according to the main focus of the project.

Verb oriented WBS:

In this element oriented type of WBS, the deliverables are developed in terms of actions that are needed to be performed. The verbs such as design, transfer, etc are the first words use in every element of this type of WBS.

Noun oriented WBS:

This element oriented type of WBS establishes the deliverables in terms of functional or physical elements of the projects. The words uses in them are usually nouns like module, automobile engine, etc. Additionally, this type is also known as product breakdown structure because nouns uses in them are typically the parts of the products in WBS.

Time phased WBS:

It is the time oriented type of WBS and used on the projects that require a lot of time. Here project is broken down into major phases instead of tasks and actions.

Other types of WBS:

Some other types of WBS are;

  • Organization WBS
  • Geographical WBS
  • Cost WBS
  • Profit center WBS

All these types also pay attention on the location, the budget, and costs or profits of the whole the project. However, these types are not used as much as the others.

Important elements of a Work Breakdown Structure:

Here are the some important elements that must be included in the WBS;

The task of every member of the project team:

The main purpose of WBS is to define the information and activities needed to complete a project. Each task is assigned to each and every member of the project team members. All the tasks should be specified so that the project manager would easily see how the tasks are going to be done.

Cost needed to complete the project:

The tasks include should be measurable. Mention the costs of each task. According to the costs, the WBS helps the manager to distribute the budget of the project effectively. You have to make sure that the total of all the combined task costs must not exceed the total cost of the project.

Schedule of the project:

WBS must include the schedule for the project and project tasks. It is important to keep the track of the project’s completion depend on the schedule. By checking which of the tasks have been completed the project manager can see the project progress. Since the tasks are measurable so you can also see the percentage of completion of each individual task.

Scope of the project:

The scope of the project is the most important thing in the completion of project. The project managers always explain the scope of the project before making the WBS so that the project can be completed without hitch. In WBS, you are making a list of all tasks thus it helps in establishing the entire scope of the project.

Purpose of the project:

Your project definitely successful if the purpose of your project has been fulfilled. All the tasks mentioned in the WBS should be completed in order to achieve the purpose of the project.

Roles and responsibilities:

We know that the purpose of project can’t be achieved without the effort of people. Therefore, you should explain all the roles and responsibilities of each team member. The project manager is in charge of assigning these roles and responsibilities.

Why should you use a work breakdown structure template?

With the help of a work breakdown structure template, you can visualize your deliverables, the tasks, and the subtasks required to complete them. It is an important and effective tool for a product, data, service, or any combination of those projects.

Along with breaking down the deliverables into smaller more manageable tasks, it also gives a place to start detailed cost estimating and control.

When to use a work breakdown structure template?

A work breakdown structure template is used during the start of the planning phase. It determines and organizes the complete number of tasks in a project. Accuracy is required to plan a project. To make a good estimation of the time and costs involved, a project plan requires gathering all the knowns relevant to the project.

Furthermore, a hierarchical structure is used by the WBS to break the project’s deliverables or objectives into manageable tasks. A complete examination of every step is required by this technique to reach your final deliverable. If you don’t know all the work that must be done, you can’t plan a project. Thus, you get your project plan approved by using a work breakdown structure. For your plan and schedule, it specifies the groundwork.

Who uses the WBS template?

The project managers should use the WBS template to plan the project schedule. But, it is essential to include everyone involved in the project as the WBS must contain every step leading to the final deliverable of the project.

Additionally, the team members are the ones who will execute the project and the project managers are the ones who lead the process. Any gaps that the project manager might have neglected, the team members have the skills and experience to fill them.

In order to make the most thorough work breakdown structure, the project manager will take an expert guidance. Therefore, to make sure that the WBS is 100% complete, look at historical data for same projects and communicate with project managers and teams who have worked on same projects.

How to create a Work Breakdown Structure?

Below are some helpful tips and steps on how to create a work breakdown structure template;

  • At first, write down and record all the purposes you are trying to achieve in your project. Your objectives have great impact on your organization.
  • Then, break down all these objectives into simpler and small tasks. Also, you should pay more attention on the project deliverables than tasks. Now, break down your project into phases and large deliverables.
  • The 100% Rule would require for the completion of the project and the achievement of all the objectives.
  • Never breach 100% Rule by repeating any of the sub-tasks or workloads twice. Repetition may result in miscalculations and inaccuracies.
  • You should focus on outcomes instead of tasks. Your WBS would become more effective by concentrating on the deliverables rather than tasks.
  • You should follow the 8/80 Rule of Effort which states that task should be completed not less than 8 hours but also not more than 80 hours of effort.
  • WBS would be completed in 3 main levels and each level can be further subdivided if more details are required.
  • In the end, assign each task to the project team members. Clearly explain all the responsibilities. A work overlap should not occur.

Some additional tips for creating a Work Breakdown structure template:

Here are some additional tips that you must follow;

  • Keep in mind that your WBS topmost levels would display the final objective or deliverable of your project. This is the main purpose of your project. You must have to achieve it at the end of the project so that you can say it was a success.
  • Your WBS different levels would include sub-deliverables. These would include the work packages that you have to allocate to an individual, a team, a unit, or a department in the organization.
  • A work package would define the following;
    1- The work required to be done
    2- The duration or time frame required to complete it
    3- Any costs and resources required to produce the sub-deliverables
  • All work packages are different. In your WBS, they should be separate from other work packages. Make sure all work package must be unique.
  • There is no need to define each and every element in the WBS and established to the same level. Some elements have to be described in further detail.

What are the benefits of using Work Breakdown Structure?

Let us discuss below the various benefits of work breakdown structure;

Yield detailed steps

The project managers and the team members while making a WBS include detailed steps to effectively explain what needs to be done in order to develop a product or deliver a service well. Miscommunication or misunderstanding may raise due to vague steps which is counterproductive to the objectives of the product.

Reference for creating a schedule and a budget

For plotting a good schedule and planning the budget for the entire project, making a WBS early on can indicate the groundwork. With the help of a good WBS, the project manager and the team becomes able to assign particular resources and budget to particular tasks.

Motivates commitment and makes accountability

Along with project manager, the entire team is involved in the planning and creation of a WBS. Excitement among the participants could generate during the entire process of planning a project and creating a WBS. This also motivates their commitment to see the project through all the way to the end.

Promotes transparency

Everyone involved in the project would develop the WBS so that every team member know about everything involved in the project. A lot of input would go into how the project would be completed productively as making the WBS would be a team effort. This can also lead to higher productivity.

Efficient tool for tracking progress

The WBS is an efficient tool for tracking progress in terms of;

  • Which tasks that have been completed
  • How much time would still require for the remaining tasks
  • Whether there are any resources or any budget that haven’t used in the accomplishment of each task

All these details inform the project managers whether the project is progressing well or not.


In conclusion, a Work Breakdown Structure template is an essential tool that breakdown the work of team into parts which are easier to manage. WBS basically contains maps of illustration for a project. Additionally, projects can take a lot of time and effort but by making WBS you can achieve the objectives of your project more effectively.

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