What a refreshing Monday morning! I started my day off with a 10:00 a.m. WBS Meeting (Work Breakdown Structure) a.k.a everyone is held 100% accountable for their tasks of which they own.
Those that project manage – this tool is essential. Now, for those of you in organizations who do not have joy in taking part in such a tool I will explain how it works. Keep in mind they are many suitable layouts you can use to present your WBS for your project/department however, the methodology stays the same.
A WBS provides a structural view into a project/department. All documentation is stored in one document where all tasks are captured, owner of task is listed, due date and comments are provided. It is an essential tool for planning and executing tasks.
The benefit to a WBS is that it clearly defines the work for the project and to develop the project’s schedule. First and foremost I want to point out that this is a live document. Any changes you make will be viewed by those who have access.
One person is the lead administrator, who manages the bird’s eye view of tasks being completed, approves date extensions requests, requests status updates and in charge of keeping a fresh, clean, updated with weekly changes running copy of the WBS.
We use our WBS for our immediate team of 4 members. A WBS is efficiently conducted in Excel utilizing many tabs. Each tab at the bottom is named after the specific department or area you are monitoring and of course have ownership of these tasks. You must include in one of first tabs some managing information and instructions on how to properly monitor/manage/input updates for others involved to see progress and monitor their own progress.
The first column at the top of the Excel sheet is where action items are listed with full descriptions. It is important to provide full details for clarification. This ensures clear direction.
In the next column, you will put the due date. The beauty of Excel is that you are able to format cells to change colors as dates approach. Due date change daily, in respect to today’s date formatted at the beginning Excel document. My company has theirs formatted to turn yellow 15 days prior to due date. Yes, this is how efficient we are – sufficient time to plan how to complete task!
When the cell turns yellow you are visually prompted to take action. This visual reminder reinforces, without a person physically reminding you to take ownership and drive your task. What a great way to relieve the pressure off managers having to constantly remind their teams of deadlines that are fast approaching.
The truth is, this tool empowers you to manage your priorities and tasks. If you are facing roadblocks in a particular task- no problem! Just communicate. Your team will appreciate your honesty. Also if a team member is your roadblock they are prompted to take action sooner than later.
It is important to clearly state your action plan to overcome roadblocks. This way people know that you are able to manage.