Too Much Detail

Inexperienced project managers tend to become enamored with work breakdown structures (WBS). One newly appointed project manager asked me to review his WBS for an IT project. The thirty-day project had 340 work packages and some of the work packages were broken down into minutes rather than hours or days.

While the project manager was proud of his accomplishment in the creation of a “micro-level” WBS, he neglected to consider the amount of time and effort required by the team to manage at that level of detail. The cost involved to establish possibly 340 charge numbers and track them accordingly could easily increase the management support cost of the project by fifty percent or more.

Project managers must establish an appropriate WBS level from which to manage. Creating a highly detailed WBS is an invitation to micromanage a project, thus alienating functional managers. Most project managers today do not possess the technical expertise to create such a detailed WBS without functional assistance. Just picture yourself attending the kickoff meeting for a thirty-day project and being handed a WBS with 340 work packages.

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Author: Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist. He also authored Harnessing the Power of Project Management, and five other published books on project management.

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