Work breakdown structure

A work breakdown structure (WBS) in VOGSY is a powerful reference tool that, as the name implies, breaks the work of a project down in terms of scope. The WBS creates a road map from objectives to outcomes. The WBS is divided into project deliverables, from which all work-related activities branch and from which all budgets are derived.

The purpose of a WBS is to give you control and predictability by ensuring the following:

  • Projects follow a basic, repeatable structure

  • Budgets, deliverables, and timelines are agreed upon

  • Resource planning and project planning are integrated

  • Automated resourcing suggestions are based on activity planning, skills, and availability

  • Time tracking is based on project and resource planning

  • Deviations can be spotted and - if needed - effort can be capped

  • Invoicing schedules follow the agreed upon WBS

Think of the quote-to-cash process as a relay race: the WBS is the game plan that helps your team of talented athletes focus on what they do best. The baton never gets dropped because the next runner always knows what’s coming.

By clarifying exactly what you’re doing for the customer, the work breakdown structure helps you honor your commitments while staying profitable.

Use the work breakdown structure to coach your project teams!

It’s everyone’s responsibility to monitor their personal budget, but they should also feel comfortable engaging in conversations about outcomes, finances, and their roles in the broader scope of the project. An experienced advisor can use the WBS to help.

Coaching your teams on working within the correct project structure will also help to ensure that they don’t create their own individual work breakdown structures. If this happens, you’ll have trouble overseeing your entire portfolio of projects and gleaning insights into profitability by comparing projects’ performance.

How Work Breakdown Structures fit into the Quote-to-Cash cycle

Here’s the VOGSY quote-to-cash workflow:

  • In the statement of work phase, you’ll create the work breakdown structure, defining all deliverables, activities and price estimates in an opportunity project. Or, you can simply choose project deliverable templates, which contain all activities and their associated costs from previous projects. This will save time and enhance predictable outcomes.

  • If the quote is accepted, the opportunity project automatically becomes an active project your team can begin staffing.

  • Once the project has been set up in VOGSY, the work begins. Because all team members are actively using the work breakdown structure as they check their assignments, everyone knows what they should be working on, when, and within what budget and time frame.

    The Project page contains all of the component parts of a WBS as well as a similar structure, so by creating the project you are, in effect, creating an interactive WBS that is integrated into the Quote-to-Cash cycle.
  • Team members record time as they work, which automatically updates VOGSY’s budget spend and margin indicators and auto-populates invoices to be sent directly from VOGSY.

Content of a work breakdown structure

What you’re doing for the customer and how much it will cost—your commitment in time, money and resources—should be crystal clear. Lay out how many hours project-related activities will take, who will perform them and at what cost and sales rates. Breaking the budget down per activity helps to safeguard your margins as it will be clear how much budget each team member has to work with.

In VOGSY, you create a WBS from the top-down with the following elements:

project scheme

In VOGSY:

  • A project (WBS) is built of one or more deliverables.

  • Each deliverable contains at least one activity, and might contain costs, which are optional.

    A cost is money that your company spent on any material or service—​excluding employee work hours—​to produce a deliverable for a project.
  • Each activity is allocated to at least one resource.

  • Tasks related to the activity can be created for, or by, the resource, but these are optional.

Not coincidentally, all these elements are part of a project, making the project page and the WBS essentially the same thing.

Getting started with work breakdown structures

A straight line is the fastest and most efficient path from starting to end point. Building the work breakdown structure directly into your team’s workflow by leveraging VOGSY is that straight line. All you have to do is create a new project, because a VOGSY project incorporates all of the elements of a good WBS.

There are, however, a few questions you must answer in order to set up VOGSY to take advantage of all the benefits of a WBS:

  • What have I agreed to hand over to the client? These are the deliverables for your WBS. The answer to this question is usually obvious, but if you cannot immediately answer it, you should ask yourself a follow-up question: What will be the line items on my invoice to the customer? VOGSY generates invoices based on deliverables, so whatever you intend to charge the customer for should be set up as one or more deliverables.

    VOGSY will use the deliverables and activities to generate a lot of the WBS components automatically; for instance, the budget, the margins, and the milestones.

    Your deliverables might differ for each project, but if not, you should consider creating deliverable templates. Templates help to automate the creation of a project’s deliverables, activities, budget, and margin data, which can lead to more predictable income by standardizing your projects. Repeatability of your projects will nurture similar results as you’ll know the structure, budget, and resource planning required.

  • What actions must I complete in order to produce the deliverables? Most organizations have a standard set of services that they list on a rate card or rate sheet; these services are called activities in VOGSY. Activities are the building blocks of a deliverable, and, by extension, of a WBS. VOGSY comes out-of-the-box with a default list of activities, such as Audience Analysis, Project Management, Creative Design, and Quality Assurance, but if those do not suit your process you can create your own. Managing your list of activities is usually something you do when you first start using VOGSY, but you can always fine-tune them at any time.

    Activities are the basis for your resource planning because activities are where you assign your employees and allocate their hours.

  • How specific do I want to be about the definition of work performed by my resources? If you feel the need to more explicitly detail what should be done to produce a deliverable, you, or the resource, can add tasks to the project. Think of tasks as a list of to-do items for the resource.