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Planning project structure - the most important things at a glance 


If you want to organise a project properly, you should give it structure, i.e. create a work breakdown structure. How you do this is explained in this article.

Projects are not always easy and manageable. If the tasks are complex and multilayered, you may have to keep an eye on many project sections at the same time.

How do you do that?
The best way is to create a work breakdown structure (PSP).

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Work breakdown structure definition:
What is a work breakdown structure?

A WBS is an overview that divides the overall project into individual sections - sub and work packages.

This allows you to see at a glance,

  • which task the individual section fulfills
  • which costs and deadlines are to be met,
  • who is responsible for controlling and
  • who is responsible for the section.


Why is a project structure plan useful?

If a project consists of more than just a single task, it quickly becomes important to keep an overview.
A PSP provides you with this overview.

What role does a work breakdown structure play in project management?

The PSP is the central tool for

  • Planning
  • Communication
  • Controlling

It is therefore the basis of the entire project management, because in a well-positioned PSP you immediately see all the information you need to manage a project. You can update, share and complete this information.

The work breakdown structure is therefore often called the "mother of all plans".

When should a work breakdown structure be prepared and used?

The PSP helps you both in the starting phase and in the implementation phase of a project.

PSP in the start-up phase

During the starting phase PSP gives you a good structure according to which you can divide the work packages and responsibilities.

PSP in the implementation phase

During the implementation phase, PSP is particularly important for controlling. It allows you to compare the progress of the project with the expenses incurred and the planned schedule.

What are the advantages of a work breakdown structure?

As a basis for the entire project planning, the PSP provides you with a number of significant advantages.
These include above all:

A better overview

When you create a work breakdown structure, you arrange all upcoming tasks into project management work packages.
This gives the overall project a logical, self-contained and structured structure.
This makes it easier for you to get an overview of the individual project sections and task areas.

An assigned responsibility

Once the individual work packages have been defined, you can nominate the appropriate persons to supervise the sections and take responsibility for them. This means that you immediately have a defined contact person for all related tasks.
If you have distributed the responsibility for the individual sections well, you will have more time to take care of the management of the overall project.

A quick progress measurement

With a clear responsibility, you will always have a number of people who will keep you informed of progress in their areas. This allows you to check the status of your tasks and also to ensure that - if necessary - the individual tasks are distributed differently.

This can be a good idea, for example, if you see that progress in one work package is behind schedule, while another team has finished its tasks more quickly.

A speedy adjustment

As a project manager you are always at the helm with a project structure plan. If you see that requirements have changed, you can react immediately and, if necessary, reallocate work packages, call in external staff or allocate additional resources.

This keeps you flexible and allows you to react quickly and reliably to changes in requirements.

A clear cost control

The work breakdown structure provides a budget for each task. Depending on the size of your project, you can either monitor compliance with the budget yourself or have those responsible inform you about it.

This gives you a good overview of your expenses and allows you to control them as required.

A simple schedule monitoring

Each task is assigned the time allocated to it in the PSP. A PSP also allows you to define dependencies that allow you to see exactly where the critical tasks are that could delay the completion of other work packages. If you notice that the teams with the critical tasks are behind schedule, you can quickly allocate additional resources to support them.

In this way, you can ensure that the overall project can meet the set timeframe.

The quality control

The quality of the entire project can only meet the requirements of the stakeholders if the quality of the individual project sections is right. Each task is therefore assigned certain specifications in the PSP. These have to be met in order for the stage to be considered completed.

As a project manager, the work breakdown structure makes it easy for you to check the results of the work and, if necessary, to have the work quickly improved.

A strong team spirit

IRido-1_Fotolia-1n PSP you can define communication points and use them to organize team brainstorming. This promotes team cooperation. If the team members feel involved in the project organization, they are much more motivated
and more committed in the implementation of their tasks.

From now on, every project will be a successful project!

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Create work breakdown structure: How is a work breakdown structure structured?

There are many ways to build a PSP.

The most frequently used forms are:

Function-oriented project structure plan

In the function-oriented approach, the project is structured according to functions. A WBS example could be: development, manufacturing, sales. The advantage of this work breakdown structure template is a familiar company organisation that corresponds to the existing specialist departments. This means that it is immediately clear to every employee which tasks the respective work packages contain, who the contact persons are and where the areas of responsibility lie.

This approach would therefore be very easy for you to implement in an established company structure.

Object-oriented work breakdown structure

If the work breakdown structure is object-oriented, a large number of similar tasks are organized and set up in parallel. Such a work breakdown structure work package example is a city festival, where each sales stand is considered a separate sub-project.

In such a case, a function-oriented working method would also be possible. However, with the object-oriented PSP you can reduce your organizational effort considerably.

Phase oriented work breakdown structure

If the work breakdown structure is phase-oriented, it is ordered according to the respective project phases.

Such an example work breakdown structure is particularly useful in development projects, because then you can treat and organise each development phase as an independent sub-project.

It is also conceivable, however, to use different mixed forms of PSP.

The decision as project manager about which template of the work breakdown structure is the right one for the respective overall project and which work package example you will finally use as a guideline is of course up to you.


How do you create a work breakdown structure?

What is the best way to create a work breakdown structure?

We show you how it works.
A good PSP project is created in 6 steps.

List all tasks

All The first step, the basis of PSP project management, is to list all the tasks that need to be done in detail. If you can, it would be good to involve the whole team in this phase. Through brainstorming or mind-mapping you can ensure that all details have been fully considered and nothing has been forgotten. list

Sort the tasks

The list of tasks should be sorted in the next step. You can sort the list by topic or by time. You decide which method seems more suitable to you, because which method is the right one depends entirely on the current project.

Define the work packages

Once the tasks are sorted, you should define the work packages. The individual work packages do not need to be particularly finely structured. If you do decide on a detailed structure, it would be good to keep the same fine division in the whole PSP.

Assign the responsibilities

Once the individual work packages are clearly defined, provided with headings and inserted into the hierarchy, the question of responsibility is at stake. As the person in charge, you should choose someone who is both familiar with the topic and capable as a manager. Only if the person fulfils both of these requirements will you have found a good person in charge.

Setting the timetable

Once you have selected the responsible persons, you should set the timetable for the completion of the respective work packages. For this you need a clearly defined start and end date for each work package. When planning the time schedule, you should pay special attention to priorities and dependencies, i.e. always keep the order of the work packages in mind, because some tasks can be run in parallel, others can only be completed one after the other.

Creating the documentation

In the last step you should document everything well. To do this, it is important that each subtask has a fixed work package number. This allows you to immediately assign the work package to the right place in the PSP. Whether you create the documentation as an Excel list, Post-It picture or as a graphic chart is your decision. However, you should remember to make the documentation easy to maintain. This saves you time if the work breakdown structure needs to be adapted quickly.

With the right work breakdown structure software from Can Do, projects can be easily created and managed

The professional project management software from Can Do supports you in all phases of project structure planning. Can Do offers you the right solution for both agile project management  and hybrid project management .


Creating a PSP correctly is very important for every project. A good, clear and complete PSP makes project management much easier. For complex projects it even makes the entire project management possible.

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