Work Breakdown Structure Template Blog Feature

5+ Free Work Breakdown Structure Templates in Excel & ClickUp

Traditionally, project managers have been looking for strategic approaches that they can adopt to make work easier. Any approach that reduces the time required to complete a project has always been considered a welcome aspect.

The ultimate objective of such approaches has always been to complete the project on time, reduce project costs, and eliminate unnecessary expenses.

Among these project management approaches, breaking work into smaller tasks seems a common technique that has always played a key role in promoting project productivity. Breaking work into smaller tasks makes it more manageable and approachable.

What is a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) Template?

A work breakdown structure is a visual representation of the hierarchical elements in a project with the ultimate goal of achieving various project deliverables. This helpful diagram enables project managers to visualize the most critical aspects of their project as they work toward achieving their desired objectives.

The availability of work breakdown structure templates is a welcome aspect because it ensures project managers don’t have to spend time preparing their WBS templates. As a project manager, you can quickly get a free work breakdown structure template that meets your project requirements.

A work breakdown structure template is a hierarchical or visual representation of all the necessary steps you need to undertake as you work toward accomplishing the laid down tasks in your project. This means you’ll not be required to spend time trying to list all the fundamental milestones necessary for your project.

ClickUp Work Breakdown Structure Docs View
Prioritize your tasks and utilize the RACI concept to determine who owns what

ClickUp’s WBS template is an excellent example of a work breakdown template that outlines essential steps, tasks, and work packages necessary to achieve the desired project objectives from start to finish. Using this diagram, you can quickly fill specific tasks, costs, and undertakings necessary to complete your project.

The 3 types of work breakdown structures

This is where a work breakdown structure comes in and facilitates the process of breaking complex projects into simple workable project tasks. Specifically, a work breakdown structure is a tool designed to help implement the project task by integrating project scope, cost, and schedule baselines.

The ultimate purpose of this tool is to ensure that there is an alignment in all project plans. Traditionally, there are three types of work breakdown structures:

1. Deliverable-based work breakdown structure

In a deliverable-based work breakdown structure, there’s a clear relationship between the project deliverables or outcomes and the project scope. This means that the work to be done plays a fundamental role in recording the desired outcome.

ClickUp Project Scope Whiteboard Template
Visually build out a clear path to project success from kickoff to delivery with the ClickUp Project Scope Whiteboard Template

For example, in the construction of a house, there is a direct relationship between the foundation and excavation. ClickUp’s Project Scope Whiteboard Template is a great way to give visibility to the whole team on the scope of your project.

2. Phase-based work breakdown structure

In a phase-based work breakdown structure, there’s no direct relationship between one deliverable and the other. Although multiple elements must be accomplished for the project to work as intended, it’s essential to highlight that each element does not affect the other deliverable in the entire process. A project can easily be handled in phases with a significant time between each phase.

3. Time-based work breakdown structure

Over the years, project managers have been using time-based work breakdown structures in project management. However, very little attention has been given to this approach because it does not pay attention to deliverables but the time factor.

Add time tracking and time estimates to ClickUp tasks

However, this is an essential work breakdown structure. A project team can use this approach to plan and detail the project phase under consideration.

Work Breakdown Structure Templates in Excel & ClickUp

Learning about work breakdown structure templates is not enough. You need to know more details about the possible work breakdown templates and the examples you can consider for your project. This way, it will be easier for you to decide on the templates you should consider for your upcoming projects.

Here are some related work breakdown structure templates and examples you should consider.

ClickUp Work Breakdown Structure Whiteboard Template

Work breakdown structure in ClickUp Whiteboards
Break down the scope of a project into small deliverables, and easily track deliverables for each stage, and phase of the team involved in ClickUp Whiteboards

Product teams will love this ClickUp Work Breakdown Structure Whiteboard Template to easily visualize the scope of a project by divvying up the work into small deliverables. This makes it easier to track your project deliverables for each stage!

Plus, our Whiteboard feature is simple to edit, add, or remove visual aspects to fit your teams’ specific needs. Never lose track of all the moving pieces in your next project!

ClickUp Project Budget (With Work Breakdown Structure) Template

ClickUp Project Budget With WBS Template
Use ClickUp’s Table View to track tasks’ budgets, due dates, prioritization, and so much more

With ClickUp’s Project Budget Work Breakdown Structure Template, you can keep your eyes on all the moving pieces of your project—and most importantly—your budget. As you already know, keeping track of a complex project is challenging.

Even the best project managers lose track of essential pieces, but with budgets set, small errors can be extremely costly. Luckily this Project Budget (WBS) template helps you track project deliverables at each phase in a more manageable fashion.

ClickUp Employee Workload Template

Managing workload and capacity in Workload view
Visualize how much work is assigned to individual contributors as well as each of your teams with the Workload view in ClickUp

Managing your team’s workload is critical in determining whether you’ll succeed in your project. You want your team to be assigned duties and responsibilities at any time. This will ensure maximum productivity among all your workers, which is a welcome achievement for any organization.

With ClickUp’s Employee Workload Template, you can efficiently manage your team’s workload, allocate your team to capacity, and plan for upcoming projects. This template lets you see the work assigned to each individual, which is a welcome aspect of every project management.

ClickUp Action Plan Template

ClickUp Action Plan Template
Track what you need to do, what you’re working on, and what’s done in this helpful action plan template

The most critical aspect of managing every project is an action plan. An action plan is a detailed plan outlining all the necessary steps and actions to achieve specific goals. This means that an action plan contains all the necessary steps or activities that must be performed for a specific objective to be achieved.

The Action Plan Template is an effective way to manage all the necessary activities and roles that you should undertake in your project. You want to keep your focus directed toward your project goals.

With ClickUp’s Action Plan Template in place, it will be easier to understand your project deliverables and to make the right decisions.

Excel Work Breakdown Structure Template by Vertex42

Excel Work Breakdown Structure Template by Vertex42
Via Vertex42

This Excel work breakdown structure from Vertex42 is a great way to organize complex projects. It provides an overview of the project, allowing you to identify and manage tasks and dependencies more efficiently.

The template utilizes a hierarchical structure, using indentations for sub-tasks so that it’s easy to keep track of what needs to be done.

What Makes a Good Work Breakdown Structure Template?

As you already know, complex projects require strategic approaches to avoid possible risks in dynamic settings. That’s why it’s essential to formulate or choose a good work breakdown structure template to enhance the chances of accomplishing project deliverables. It’s challenging to get a good WBS template in a market. However, some aspects make a good work breakdown structure template.

It’s outcome-oriented

As a project manager, your ultimate objective is to record positive results in your project. Your success will be based on the outcomes you’ll record in your project. Therefore, your work breakdown structure should fundamentally be a deliverable-oriented system.

This means that the visual depiction of your project must focus on project outcomes rather than specific activities required to achieve such outcomes. Usually, it’s essential to describe elements using nouns rather than verbs in your WBS template.

The template has mutually exclusive elements

It’s always challenging, but you must ensure that your project deliverables don’t overlap. Your work breakdown structure template should ensure that each level is mutually exclusive.

You don’t want various project deliverables to overlap, as this could negatively impact the overall project, especially regarding risk management. In any project management, enforcing mutual exclusivity is critical in cutting down on miscommunication and work duplication.

It showcases hierarchical elements

Every project must follow a defined chronological approach where hierarchy is essential. Every “child” on the ultimate project flow diagram must have a hierarchical relationship with its “parent” task.

ClickUp Hierarchy
ClickUp’s unique Hierarchy gives you the flexibility to organize teams of any size

This means that when you add all the necessary “child” elements, there’s a higher chance you’ll get a clear picture of the “parent” or the project’s eventual outcome.

It follows the 100% rule

Traditionally, work breakdown structures come in all shapes and forms. Some are customized to meet the specific requirements of a particular project, while others are generic.

However, although every work breakdown structure seems to be a little different, it’s essential to indicate that they all follow the 100% rule. This means that every level of the work breakdown structure must make up 100% of the parent level while at the same time having at least two “child” elements.

There are clear team responsibilities

Assigning project tasks is one of the most complex undertakings in project management. Project managers have struggled to assign various team members tasks and responsibilities.

Assign comments in ClickUp tasks
Assign comments to the team in ClickUp tasks to instantly turn your thoughts into action items

This explains why some duties and responsibilities overlap, leading to low productivity. A good WBS template should have duties assigned to a specific team or an individual, which will prevent overlapping and other unwanted project aspects.

There are 3 levels of details

A detailed WBS template is critical because it ensures that every aspect of the project has been thoroughly addressed. You don’t want a work breakdown structure containing scanty information. You want all the necessary details to aid in executing project tasks.

That’s why you will come across many work breakdown structure templates with three levels of detail. For example, some branches of the WBS will be more subdivided than others, which means that the scope of your project will be very detailed.

When to Use a WBS Template

A WBS template might sound like a luxury to most project management professionals. Such individuals might feel that a large project can function without adding unnecessary aspects to its operations. However, a work breakdown structure template is handy in various project management aspects. Here are some of the fundamental areas where the role of a work breakdown structure template is undisputed.

1. Establishing project dependencies

In project management, it’s essential to understand project dependencies, making it easier for project managers to make the right decisions. Usually, there are very many dependencies in every project.

That’s why managing a complex project is challenging, especially when the project manager finds it hard to understand various dependencies and how they relate to one another.

A work breakdown structure establishes a relationship between various project dependencies. As a project manager, you want to understand every element of your project clearly, and WBS helps you achieve just that.

2. Estimating project cost

Cost is a fundamental aspect of every project. As a project manager, you must have a precise budget for what the project is likely to consume.

Challenges emerge when the estimated project cost goes beyond what you had planned. It’s a problem that all leading project managers want to avoid. However, with a work breakdown structure template, you get detailed information about the cost of various projects.

Advanced formulas in ClickUp Custom Fields
Find the cost of entire campaigns, billable hours, and more with advanced formulas in ClickUp Custom Fields

You can easily estimate all the costs that your project will require to achieve project deliverables. Actual cost estimates enable you to complete your project from start to finish without the usual cost challenges that project managers have to deal with.

3. Determining project timeline and schedules

Besides project costs, establishing project management timelines has always been a significant challenge among project managers. Every project manager wants to have sufficient time to accomplish their projects. However, this is not always the case. Every project needs to be completed within a specific time to assist various stakeholders.

Product Roadmap Example in ClickUp Timeline View
Visualize and manage your product roadmap in ClickUp Timeline View

As a project manager, a work breakdown structure template is your go-to tool for determining project timelines and schedules. With this template, it will be easier to establish the time it will take to complete each task within the project.

This will help ensure that the project is completed within the established time to benefit various project stakeholders.

4. Identifying project risks

Every project is undertaken in a dynamic environment, so various fundamentals will likely change, affecting the project deliverables. As a project manager, you need to be aware of the possible project risks and uncertainties to address such challenges as they emerge.

Risk Log in ClickUp
Use ClickUp’s Risk Log to see what tasks or subtasks are at risk of running late or incompletion

A WBS template not only constitutes project elements and how they relate to one another. It also highlights possible risks and uncertainties that project managers can face. You need this basic template because it will help you detect possible project risks and address them before they can hurt project deliverables.

5. Tracking progress in your project

As a project manager, you want to understand your project’s daily progress. Understanding the progress of your project is critical, especially in analyzing whether your project is within the stipulated project timeline and cost. With a WBS template, you’ll quickly understand every step in your project and adjust to meet timeline and cost requirements when necessary.

Organize your Projects in a Work Breakdown Structure Template

As a project manager, you want to make the right decisions in your next project. Therefore, you must ensure that you have a clear and concise work breakdown structure that will assist in time management, project controls, and assigning duties.

At ClickUp, you can get work breakdown structure templates designed to meet your project needs. Sign up for ClickUp today for free and start managing your project effectively.

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