Microsoft Project - The How To Series that Project Manager too embarrassed to ask. (part 2) - Where is the WBS in Microsoft Project?

In the PMBOK project management process groups and knowledge areas. For what ever projects that you are about to embark on planning process group, you will need to create the WBS under project scope management. However, when you think you are already using the industry most commonly used project management software - Ms Project. You simply can't find a way to start working on it using the software. You are like, WTF....
In fact, if you do a bit of Google here and there, you will end up getting search result suggesting you to buy another software that sits on top of Ms Project. The software is not bad but shouldn't WBS a fundamental of project planning? How could Microsoft miss out on this.

I am not going to elaborate about the purpose of WBS, what are the details of it and how is it going to be applied. For that, you can refer to PMBOK or any project management web sites for details.

What I am going to discuss about is the way to do WBS using Ms Project. And the items that I plan to add into the mpp which is below
- WBS Level
- WBS Code Numbers
- WBS Dictionary
- Work Package

Ms Project actually has WBS functions in it, but it is in a very obscured places. In fact, the method that I going to show you do look like a hack in my view.
Ok, let's get it started.
To enable this, you would need to add in the column to your Ms Projet mpp file.
Column to add is
- WBS predecessor
- WBS successor
- Note

Once you have done adding the column, I would suggest to reorganize your columns so then WBS starts first, then Note, WBS predecessor and WBS successor. Anyway, it is your preference how you would like to sort it, I am suggesting this because it is easier to read the plan.

Then, once you have done all these, you should have the basic means to do WBS Level, WBS Code Numbers, WBS Dictionary and Work Package.

So, how to do WBS Level?
The way to do is to use WBS column and the use of indent/outdent task to arrange your WBS level, so, the highest level of WBS would be the one in the outdent task. Work packages would be in your most inner indent task.  However, your WBS Code Number is important to match with your WBS level, so, your WBS column which should be used to store WBS Code Number has to match your level that you have indent to be consistent.
Ms Project will recognize your WBS Code Number and auto increment for you. Say if you WBS is 1.1.1, when you add a new task underneath, the new task WBS Code Number would be 1.1.2.

Now, you have WBS Level and WBS Code Number, what about dictionary. I would suggest to use the Note in the task for your write up. It can be short or long, it is up to you but having the column Note available so then you do not need to click one by one of the task to see the details.

The WBS predessor and WBS successor are useful for you to do the project time management activities later which is sequence activities. However, it is entirely up to you if you want to put it in.
I find looking at the Gantt chart is much more straightforward than doing this way.

So, that is all you need to do to have a WBS features in your Ms Project. Happy project management. Cheers.


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