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Work Breakdown Structure in Agile Projects

There is a great misconception out there that somehow if you use Agile project methods like scrum for project management, then you can’t use Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

This is too bad, because you will miss out the great benefits which WBS offers. The truth is that even Agile project method benefits greatly by using  work breakdown structure for managing tasks and milestones.

Work breakdown structure is used to simplify complex tasks by breaking down each task to many smaller tasks called sub-tasks.

The resulting tasks  know as subtasks are broken down further into yet smaller tasks. This process continuous  until the end result is well defined small tasks.

This tasks only take a short time to work on and complete because they are well understood.

The benefits of work breakdown structure are well documented. Many experienced project managers use WBS to get a handle on very complex and large projects.

Agile & Work breakdown structure

The benefits of Agile are well know. The fact that projects are broken down into time slices which are called sprints make Agile and WBS natural partners for great results.

In the Agile projects, use WBS to breakdown tasks from the backlog for the next sprint. This way tasks that are worked on in each sprint are well defined and could finish in the sprint’s time frame.

In my work I have used work breakdown structure in Agile projects in the past few years. The results have been amazing.

So how Binfire can help you use both Agile and WBS, you might ask? Binfire task manager is based on 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 PMI.  The dashboard for each task has all the tools needed by Agile teams to work on that task.

The Kanban board in Binfire is the perfect tool for Agile project management. One of the lists in the Kanban board is the backlog list. You can add all project’s tasks in the backlog list until  you are ready to move them to the project.

When ready use drag and drop to move tasks from backlog to open tasks list.

A great feature  in Binfire which helps managing Agile projects easier is the ability to copy or move tasks from a project to another project. This helps to keep tasks in a backlog project and move them to new projects 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 other information you need are copied to the new project and the start and end of the project and its tasks are adjusted to reflect a new start date.

These features make it easier and save a ton of time when managing multiple projects.

A new project management concept called Hybrid project management combines Agile and Work Breakdown structure to create a potent new project management method. Hybrid is one of the hottest new trends in project management.

 

Try Binfire for free and see how it can help you manage your Agile projects better.

David Robins

CEO

David Robins is the founder and CEO of Binfire. David studied at both Cornell and MIT, and was the Director of Software Engineering at Polaroid for 11 years.

2 Comments
  1. "This way you have all tasks defined for the project in the backlog and for each sprint you move a small subset to sprint 1, sprint 2 and so on"

    David,

    There is one of two things happening here. Either you are using task to mean something different than that used in agile planning or you're fundamentally misunderstanding how the incremental and iterative planning works for agile teams.

    tasks are generally the smaller units of work done by teams that add up to user stories. Tasks represent effort while stories are user visible value. So large stories do get broken down into smaller stories and stories can eventually be broken down into tasks, but this happens throughout the entirely lifestyle of a project not up front. And task breakdowns occur inside the team as they are preparing to start working on a story.

    Was this your intention in describing how your tool would work in an agile context? Or we're you envisioning a PM doing this work at the start of a project? From your article it was nt clear.

    –bab

    1. Hi Brian,
      Thank you for the comment. You are right, I was not clear enough in the post. I don't mean the PM doing all this work at the start, since it is not efficient and defeats the concept of incremental work.
      We use task containers (tasks which have sub-tasks and sub sub-tasks etc) for user stories. At each sprint we move some of the tasks from the user story to the sprint or the whole container task (user story) depending if it can be done in the time frame we use.

      Regards,
      David

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