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Purpose of the template

Basic Table WBS Template

Table version of a work breakdown structure

Milestone Table WBS Template

Table version of work breakdown structure, sectioned into milestones

Spreadsheet WBS

Excel spreadsheet version of a work breakdown structure

Milestone Time Line Template

Visio version of a project timeline with milestones

New Service WBS Sample

Sample table version of a work breakdown structure


The WBS organizes and defines the scope of the project, breaking it into manageable tasks.

  1. Identify your project planning team. This team identifies the project tasks that are needed to achieve the project deliverables, and is usually comprised of the project manager and the resources requested to complete the project tasks. Be sure to involve anyone who has a "stake" in the project outcome. If you are not sure who to contact, or have not received the requested project resources, work with your manager or project sponsor to identify the appropriate work group manager to join the planning team.
  2. With your project planning team, identify the tasks required to achieve the project deliverables. This is a list of "What" needs to be done. The level of detail is at your discretion. Consider this example of a Sample WBS for a new service to get ideas about tasks to include. The UW-IT PMO recommends breaking down any task longer than 40 hours into incremental tasks, so progress is easily monitored.
  3. Identify "Who" owns each task. This should be the person ultimately responsible for completing the task, even though there may be others involved to assist in completing the task. If you don't yet know the name of the person assigned to the task, then you can assign a role instead such as "Unix Engineer". Later, revise the WBS with the name of the person filling the role.
  4. When an individual is assigned to a task (typically, by their manager but sometimes by the project manager), ask them to estimate the effort involved or the duration of the task, and identify any predecessor tasks that need completion prior to starting their task. You can use the effort or duration, plus predecessors, to generate a schedule of project tasks.
  5. Record the work breakdown structure, or tasks, using one of the WBS templates:
    • Basic Table WBS Template: The simpliest way to depict a work breakdown structure is with a table. You can use the wiki table tool or the table format in Microsoft Word.
    • Milestone Table WBS Template: Basic table WBS sectioned by milestone.
    • Spreadsheet WBS: A typical spreadsheet view is available in Microsoft Excel.
    • Gantt chart: For more complex projects, we recommend depicting the work breakdown structure in a Gantt chart tool. You can use Microsoft Project software, or the Gantt view in SharePoint. 
    • Time Line (1): A time line view, such as the format available in Microsoft Visio, can show the project milestones and phases in a visual format. A time line is not recommended for depicting the project work breakdown structure, but is a great tool for showing project progress at a glance.
  6. Display the project WBS on the Project Plan (1). This is a living document for the duration of the project, as tasks are added, changed or completed and changes occur to resource assignments. Agree with your project sponsor on how often it must be reviewed and revised.
  7. Please contact the UW-IT PMO if you need assistance with your project WBS at