Book Review: Secrets to Mastering the WBS in Real-World Projects

What we think we know, versus what is, can result in some of our biggest problems.

We make assumptions and decisions without understanding the larger picture.

Given that weakness, tools that help us break up false assumptions are essential to asking better questions and making better decisions.

Secrets to Mastering the WBS in Real World Projects, by Liliana Buchtik, PMP, is a book that brushes off the misunderstandings and misuses of the Work Breakdown Structure and sheds new light on how to use the tool to reveal what we don’t see.

Before she can do that, however, she needs to tackle the misconception some Project Managers have about the WBS. The author uses the first chapter to counter the idea she’s encountered among PMs that the WBS is the:

  • Schedule
  • List of activities
  • Organizational Breakdown Structure
  • Resource Breakdown Structure

Instead, she explains that it is:

  • The What not the How
  • Nouns not Verbs

In short, it is the outputs, or project deliverables that make up your project

The rest of the book is a series of chapters on the 20 Benefits of using the WBS and how you can use it to improve your Risk, Scope, and Cost management by integrating it with the rest of your tools to understand project health. As I read through the benefits, I had flashbacks from previous projects where I could have saved myself time and grief.

A few of the benefits are:

  • Understand Work at Early Stages
  • Visualize Project Boundaries and Manage Complexities
  • Achieve a Common Understanding of the Work
  • Integrate Scope with Time and Cost

Her explanation on how to tie risk management to the WBS will be a useful and interesting read for Risk Management junkies.  Others will find it useful for the depth of knowledge about the Work Breakdown Structure.  Secrets to Mastering the WBS in Real-World Projects is a book to read and then buy for its reference value.

Do you have any books you want to recommend on this topic?  Leave a comment or send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.


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