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Planning Phase – Project Plan and The Work Breakdown Structure (#2 in the series Planning Phase)
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

Project Plan

The Project Plan is a document that describes and brings together the components of a project. In effect, the Project Plan is the guidebook for all to the project. All aspects of the project should be covered, although the level of detail depends on the size of the project.

Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a foundation document in project management and all projects should contain at least a high level WBS that shows the main project products or phases with the main tasks. Then, the WBS can provide the basis for planning and managing the key areas of the project. Risks and costs may be referenced against the WBS, as well as time frames and milestones.

Project plans for larger projects should develop multi-level WBSs. The extent depends on the size of the project. Very large projects may have as many as five levels in the WBS, rarely more, because each level requires the corresponding amount of extra work. Adding a level to a WBS increases workload, as each activity in each level must be tracked and recorded.

A graphical representation of the work breakdown structure can be used in reports to management and steering committees as a visual means of showing the status of the project.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is a highly successful Australian university with an applied emphasis in courses and research. Based in the city of Brisbane with a global outlook, it has 40,000 students, including 6000 from overseas, (QUT Statistics) and an annual budget of more than AU$500 million. Courses are in high demand and its graduate employment rate is well above the national average for Australian universities.

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