E6S-039 Work Breakdown Structure - Bite-sized Chunks Part 1

Intro:  Welcome to the E6S-Methods podcast with Jacob and Aaron, your source for expert advice on Lean, Six Sigma, and performance improvement methods. In this episode number 39 we introduce a classic project management tool, the Work Break Down Structure, and how it can benefit Lean Six Sigma projects. Here we go.

***Bite-size Project Planning With the WBS***                 


Objections 1- Six Sigma projects have too many unknowns to plan a breakdown of work packages

Counter 1- While LSS projects have unknowns, a place holders for planned tools can suffice for the WBS

Objection 2 -Six Sigma projects already have a breakdown of phases, work packages are unnecessary.

Counter 2- LSS phases are very high level, and do not provide enough detail for proper project planning.

Objection 3- Plans never stand, so why bother?                                                                                

Counter3 - They say plans are worthless but planning is priceless.  No plan is perfect.  The process of planning brings value to stakeholders and allows for adequate resources and contingencies.                                                                                                                                                                                   

I            What is the WBS?

a.       Top-down breakdown of your project to actionable tasks

II         Why create a WBS?

a.       The WBS leads into network diagrams and Gant chart creation

i.      Identify project critical paths

ii.      Create timeline and milestones

III      How to create a WBS                       

a.       Start at the top level project

b.      Break project into phases

c.       Break phases into Objectives

d.      Break Objectives into Deliverables

e.       Break Deliverables into individual Tasks, known as Work Packages

i.      Rule of thumb: Work Packages should be sized such that they are no smaller than 8 hrs (1 workday) and no larger than 40 hrs (1 work week) to complete.

ii.      Examples:

1.      General WBS, showing work package breakdown with task numbers: http://www.project-management-knowhow.com/project_scope.html

2.      Example WBS: Sam Adams’ Beer Brewing: http://samuelm26.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/brewing-beer-wbs/                 

IV      How WBS and Rolling-Wave Planning work together:      

a.       What is Rolling Wave Planning?

b.      How WBS Fits In (Benefits)

i.      More accurate scheduling estimates. 

ii.      More concrete communications on team commitments, realistic expectations.

iii.      Less lagging deliverables. What about Rolling-wave planning?                   

c.       Risks of WBS with Rolling Wave Planning

i.      Planning too much detail for a future unknown.

1.      WBS will likely change                                 

Outro: Thanks for listening to episode 39 of the E6S-Methods Podcast.  Stay tuned for episode number 40, (Interruption). Hey everyone, this is Aaron.  You may have noticed neither Jacob nor I are true experts in some of these project management tools, so we called in a real, world renowned expert to explain the uses and benefits of the Work Breakdown Structure.  Please stay tuned for Episode 40, with our first expert guest, Ricardo Vargas, a true expert in project management.