WBS dict

How to create a professional WBS Dictionary

What is A WBS Dictionary?

WBS Dictionary is a document that provides comprehensive information on the deliverables, activity, and scheduling of each element of the Work Breakdown Structure ( WBS). The WBS Dictionary defines each component of the WBS with milestones, deliverables, activities, scope and sometimes dates, costs, resources, and quality.

For each WBS component, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) dictionary will provide a brief description of the scope or statement of work, identified deliverables, a list of associated activities, and a list of milestones. This can also contain information such as responsible organization, start and end dates, resources needed, cost estimates, charge number, contract information, quality specifications, and technical references to facilitate the performance of the project. The WBS dictionary is also an important component of the scope baseline.

What is the objective of the WBS Dictionary?

WBS Dictionary helps prevent the scope creep by defining the details of the work package. Because what needs to be done within the work package is described in the WBS dictionary, the scope of the project team members is illuminated and this helps discourage the team from doing any unnecessary work or work beyond the scope of the project.

WBS Dictionary is indeed one of the project documents and is the output of Create WBS process. After WBS is created, each work package is associated with a WBS dictionary to define what will be done in the scope of the work package.

Guidelines for Creating a WBS Dictionary

1. The level of detail should be less for WBS elements that are higher in the hierarchy and to be more detailed for the lower-level components.

2. Experts highly recommend that we implement a standard structure for providing descriptive information for each WBS element in the WBS dictionary to ensure consistency.

3. Adding the WBS and the WBS dictionary into the same document is a good practice. This does not compel the project team and stakeholders to look for any information. When they look at the WBS, all the details the WBS holds will be available to them within the same document in the WBS dictionary, right there.

4. The Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary is under constant revision due to continuously changing circumstances. Therefore, to ensure proper project management we will periodically review the contents of the WBS dictionary.

Guidelines for What to Include in a WBS Dictionary?

① WBS Code: It should be related to the WBS Title and identify it as a Work Package, Planning, and/or Control Account.

➁ Responsible Organization/ Individual: Name the single organization, group, or individual that has been assigned sole responsibility for making sure the Work Package is completed. Include contact information.

➂ Description: Define the boundaries of the  Work Package. Frame the content of the scope so that it is clear what scope is included and excluded. If it is a Planning Package, describe the known and unknown scope.

➃ Deliverables: Identify the product, service, or outcomes developed when all the work is complete in this Work Package. Include any intermediate critical deliverables.

➄ Acceptance Criteria: Clearly state functional and physical requirements to meet customer demands and requirements for quality. Include any special approval approvals.

➅ Milestones: List all start dates, end dates, intermediate milestones, interdependencies, constraints, and all deliverables assumptions.

➆ Budget: Designate the budget and any essential resource details and assumptions for this Work Package.

➇ Risks: Include any identified risks and response strategies.

➈ Additional Information: Describe additional information such as references, work packages, etc.

➉ Approvals: Add the name and designation of people required to approve the WBS dictionary

WBS Dictionary Template

The WBS Dictionary is the formal project document that includes comprehensive descriptions of key details in the Project Breakdown Structure for all Elements which must adhere to the 100 percent rule. The 100%rule allows the WBS to capture 100% of the scope of the project. Since the titles of the WBS Elements are just one or two terms, however, it is difficult to confirm that this requirement has been met strictly by using the WBS. The WBS Dictionary is the project document outlining the work in each Element in such a way that the project team can prepare and execute 100% of the scope.

Most sources define the WBS Dictionary as a tool for the description of work packages. The Work Packages in each WBS Leg are classified as the lowest elements. Although this statement is true, each element in the WBS is actually represented by the WBS Dictionary. The WBS Dictionary is much like the Work Breakdown Structure, created in a hierarchical structure. The descriptions of the Level 1 Elements must first be developed to clarify their limits and maintain consistency with the lower Elements. It is the only way to ensure adherence to the 100% rule.

Download Free WBS Dictionary Template from HERE

Recommended: Primavera P6 Advanced Guide

How to create a WBS Dictionary?

The WBS dictionary is created by the project manager and developed by Subject Matter Experts (SME) project team members. The approach to development begins with Level 1 elements, goes down each leg, and ends with the work packages. The hierarchical approach ensures that the work in any level 1 is compatible with the law of 100%.

The contents of each element should be kept short when developing the WBS dictionary. The main objective of the WBS Dictionary is to ensure that project team members understand clearly how all elements, particularly Work Packages, work are carried out. The Scope Statement, Work Authorization Package, contract or agreement, etc. are not rewritten. It is a short description of key topics pertaining to each feature. One good way for this format to be followed is by following these steps with a WBS Dictionary template:

1.Gather Project Team and Confirm the 100% Rule

2. Create and develop the Level-1 WBS elements and it should include :

  • ID Code and Title for WBS Level-1  – Identify it as a Control Account if it is one.
  • Description
  • Main Deliverables: The product, service, or result created when all of the work in this WBS Leg is complete.
  • Acceptance Criteria: Functional and physical requirements that meet client requirements.
  • Budget Summary
  • Milestones:
  • Risks

3. Review the WBS Level-1 elements and revise if needed.

4. Create WBS Level-2, WBS Level-3, etc.

5.Create the content of each WBS Work Package

6.Ensure the WBS dictionary reflects 100% of the project scope

WBS Dictionary in Planning Process

The development of the WBS dictionary in a project represents the advanced project management methodology for this project. While WBS and its components (Work Packages, WBS dictionaries) are created at the early stage of the project (defining the project scope process), the WBS dictionary presents details of projects coming from various project management outputs such as: Cost Management , Time Management, HR Management, etc. which should be carried out after the management of the project scope.

This implies that WBS Dictionary is the output of iteration techniques in the planning process. At the beginning of the project, where the specifics are not yet clear at this point, the Project Management Team will create an initial version of the WBS Dictionary. Then, at a later stage, they should review the outputs of the planning process and try to change it and update it on the basis of the new information available.

See Also
WBS in Project Management
Develop Project Management Plan