There is a misconception out there that if you use an Agile project management method like Scrum to manage your projects, you can’t use Work Breakdown Structure, WBS for short.
There’s too much confusion, a project manager gets no relief (I am borrowing from Bob Dylan here).
There are those who swear by the Agile method and then there are those who think Agile is a waste of time and does not work.
The argument of those who practice Agile is that at the beginning of the project, the scope of the work is not known.
So spending time on WBS is useless for Agile projects.
This is too bad because these projects will miss out on the huge benefits which WBS offers in Agile environments.
Let me state this again, the Agile project method benefits greatly when using the work breakdown structure for managing tasks and milestones in projects.
To take on Pure Agile advocates heads on, let me set the record straight.
You can and should use WBS not just at the beginning of a project, but at the start of each sprint in the project.
Work breakdown structure is used to simplify complex tasks by breaking down each task into many smaller tasks called subtasks.
The resulting subtasks are broken down further into yet smaller subtasks.
This process continues until the subtasks are well defined and small enough in size and scope that could start and finish in a few days or a couple of weeks at most.
The resulting subtasks only take a short time to work on and complete because they are well understood and defined well.
The benefits of the work breakdown structure are well documented.
Many experienced project managers use WBS to get a handle on the complex and large projects.
Agile & Work breakdown structure
The benefits of the Agile method are well known.
The fact that projects in Agile are broken down into small time slices called sprints make Agile and WBS natural partners for the best results.
I believe, WBS is instrumental in helping the Agile method to become better project management methodology and get wider acceptance in the project management community.
The lean approach which both Agile and WBS are based on could help manage work using Agile more predictable and reliable.
When managing a project using the Agile method, use WBS to break down tasks found in the backlog before sending them to the next sprint.
This way, tasks that are worked on in each sprint are well defined and small enough that could have a better chance of completing on time.
In my work, I have used the work breakdown structure in Agile in many projects in the past few years. The results have been anything but amazing.
What is surprising, this combined method works well for small and large projects.
Not surprisingly, the projects which have some research in them and all work is not known at the start of the project, benefit most from using WBS in Agile.
So how Binfire can help you use both Agile and WBS, you might ask?
Binfire’s task manager is based on the work breakdown structure and gives you the ability to create sub-tasks 6 levels deep.
This is enough for even the most complex projects as recommended by the Project Management Institute or PMI for short.
Each project also has a Kanban board and a dashboard enable work in Agile.
In addition to each project having its own Kanban board, there is a portfolio Kanban board which shows tasks from all your projects.
The Kanban board is the preferred tool for Agile project management.
One of the lists on the Kanban board is the backlog list.
You can add all the project’s tasks in the backlog list at the start of the project.
At the start of each sprint, move tasks you want from the backlog to the “Open Task” list by using drag and drop.
A great feature in Binfire which helps to manage Agile projects easier is the ability to copy or move tasks from one project to another project.
This helps to keep tasks in the backlog list in one project and move them to new projects (or sprint) as they are needed.
Another feature lets you use one project that you have already populated and worked on as a template for your new projects.
All tasks, members and the other information you have in the original project are copied to the new project.
The start and end dates of the project and tasks are adjusted to reflect a new start date.
These features make it easier to save time when managing multiple projects using Agile methods.
To understand how work breakdown structure works, read the WBS tutorial we recently published in Collaboration Corner.
A new project management concept called Hybrid project management which combines Agile and Work Breakdown structure is gaining wide acceptance.
Hybrid creates a potent new project management method which is based on the combination of Agile and WBS as we cover in this paper.
Hybrid is one of the hottest new trends in project management and gaining momentum among project managers.
If you are not familiar with Hybrid, give it a try. It helps to introduce Agie to teams that have used traditional project management methods.
Try Binfire for free and see how it can help you manage your Agile projects better.