WBS vs Project Plan: Difference and Comparison

‘project management tools’ refers to tools that help teams or individuals organize and manage their tasks and projects better. These are not for the project managers alone.

These tools provide various customizations that make them useful for all kinds of teams. They help plan, collaborate, document, and evaluate the various projects at hand.

Key Takeaways

  1. A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) organizes project tasks into hierarchical levels, defining deliverables and objectives.
  2. A project plan includes the WBS and timelines, resources, budgets, and risk management strategies.
  3. Developing a WBS is critical to creating a comprehensive project plan.

WBS vs Project Plan

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a hierarchical decomposition of the project scope into smaller, more manageable components called work packages. A project Plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the project’s objectives, scope, timelines, budgets, resources, risks, and quality requirements.

WBS vs Project Plan

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WBS stands for work breakdown structure. It forms the core of project planning and is used by project managers to divide the main project into smaller parts.

In this, work is represented hierarchically and visually to better understand the work at hand. The project may be divided into partial projects, work packages, and deliverables.

The project plan gives a broad framework that acts as the basis of all further planning. It is a document made with a word processing tool and is formally approved.

Its main use is for documenting planning assumptions and facilitating communication among various stakeholders of the project. It also contains illustrations to help in the visualization of the key aspects.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonWBSProject Plan
ScopeDeals with the entire projectDeals with the smaller parts of the project
Order of creationBefore the project gets approvedAfter the approval of the project
Purpose of creationShows the scale of the project and its costFor setting a practical timetable for the creation of each part
FocusIt focuses on the whole budget.It focuses on the cost for each part of the project to stay within budget
Kind of toolResult-oriented toolAction-oriented tool

What is WBS?

Work Breakdown Structure is a common productivity technique that helps in making the work at hand more approachable and manageable.

It breaks the work into smaller parts and serves as a very useful project management document. It alone integrates cost, scope, and schedule for the whole project.

WBS is defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) as the decomposition of work based on a hierarchy that is to be executed by the project handling team.

It is of two types: 1. Deliverable-based and 2. Phase-based. The former is the most preferred approach and common too.

WBS decomposes the main project into partial projects, work packages, and deliverables. Work packages are part of the lowest planning level assigned to individuals.

Various work packages together form deliverables which in turn join together to form partial projects that finally form the end project.

The main use of WBS is as a planning tool to help the team plan and organise the project’s scope with deliverables. It acts as a tool to monitor and control the project.

Various software tools help in the successful creation of WBS. It is created before a project plan.

work breakdown structure

What is Project Plan?

A project plan defines goals and objectives, how they are achieved, resources needed, associated timelines, and budgets for completing the same.

It also defines who will be responsible for a particular job. It comprises a resource list, risk plan, statement of work, and a project schedule.

It holds a very important role in the successful completion of any project. It contains all the necessary information and thus guides the project at every step.

It also clearly states the duties and responsibilities of every stakeholder. It helps in getting clarity and ridding the project of any confusion that may arise in the future.

It contains the entire scope of the project, covering deliverables, business needs and problems, objectives, and key achievements of the project.

The main proponents of the project plan are as follows:

  • Objectives and goals
  • Scope
  • Approach
  • Cost plan
  • Resource plan
  • Projects and tasks of the project

It is the end product of all the planning efforts, covering every small part of the project in detail. A well-defined project plan helps in the successful completion and smooth execution of the project. Thus, a lot of time is spent by project managers on the same.

project plan

Main Differences Between WBS and Project Plan

  1. Work Breakdown Structure essentially deals with the project as a whole and decomposes the project into various small parts. On the other hand, the project plan gives comprehensive detail about each of these parts.
  2. WBS is created before a project plan. On the other hand, a project plan is always created after WBS is made and approved.
  3. WBS shows the scale and cost of the whole project, whereas the project plan provides the scale and cost for every part of the project.
  4. WBS gives the budget for the entire project, and the project plan helps in ensuring that each part adheres to the same.
  5. WBS is a result-oriented tool, whereas a project plan is action-oriented.
Difference Between WBS and Project Plan
  1. https://stumejournals.com/journals/sbs/2018/2/87
  2. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4615-0947-9_11

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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