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WBS Dictionary Sample: Examples and Templates

19th Feb, 2024
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    WBS Dictionary Sample: Examples and Templates

    The project scope statement, the WBS- work breakdown structure, and the WBS Dictionary-work breakdown structure dictionary are said to be the three components that make up the scope baseline in the area of project scope management knowledge. In addition to the project scope statement and WBS, the PMP certification test includes a few questions about WBS dictionary as well. 

    In this article, we are going to address the work breakdown structure dictionary example and all other aspects of WBS. If you are in search of an amazing WBS dictionary PMP course, we suggest PMP online course which helps you start your learning journey from scratch. So, in this article, let us look at why it is important to create and maintain a WBS dictionary. 

    What is WBS Dictionary?

    The work breakdown structure is supported by a document called a WBS Dictionary, which also describes each milestone to offer the project's final deliverables. Additionally, it offers comprehensive details regarding the execution of each project activity, including the resources needed, projected expenditures, quantity and quality specifications, completion timetable, etc. 

    The specifics of the work breakdown structure's tasks, activities, and deliverables are found in a WBS glossary. The project scope, any relevant milestones, dates, resources, cost, and quantity are all included in the material. 

    This is a precise description of the WBS that can be expressed as textual information or as numerical data. When a task requires more explanation or elaboration, the WBS Dictionary offers more details. As a result, the WBS Dictionary will contain information about each WBS project task or element, including its description, project scope, milestones, and related activities. 

    You can define each step on WBS, difference between WBS and WBS dictionary and how to carry it out to produce the project's final deliverable using the WBS dictionary. The document has control accounts that combine the objective, budget allocation, actual cost, and timeline for those tasks, as well as a work package that lists the linked tasks. 

    However, WBS dictionary's definitions, in brief, are a concise description of the work's scope. This establishes a baseline with one foot just on the tripod of your scope. The project scope for the entire project, as well as the WBS that you are extending with the WBS dictionary, are the other two feet. To gauge and keep track of a project's scope, each of these three is crucial.

    WBS Activities

    A WBS Dictionary's primary objective is to provide details regarding the work breakdown structure. Given that WBS is a visual tool, it is challenging to describe the tasks in depth. The WBS Dictionary, which contains all the details about the jobs, is referenced by the titles and numbers frequently used in WBS. As a result, project team members are better able to comprehend each task listed in the WBS and the precise conditions necessary to finish the project. 

    The project's stakeholders can stay informed about its development because of the WBS Dictionary. It offers a precise estimate of the project's size and the quality of the work that would be produced. 

    This assists in avoiding complex and expensive revisions and improves the project's timely delivery. To make sure that the completed project lives up to stakeholders' expectations and effectively achieves corporate goals, project managers employ a WBS Dictionary. 

    Who Makes WBS Dictionary?

    The Project Manager directs the development of the WBS Dictionary, which is created by the project team's SME- Subject Matter Experts. The Level 1 Elements mark the start of the development approach, which continues down each Leg and ends with the Work Packages. 

    The project manager creates the WBS lexicon, but it is not done so in a vacuum. The project manager will plan the actions required to finish it and ensure that now the WBS dictionary is implemented correctly, but will also conduct interviews and enlist the assistance of others to ensure that its descriptions are accurate and comprehensive. 

    The project manager is gathering data from a number of sources while organizing the gathering of the material, which will define and guide the actions on the WBS. To ensure they are answering all questions about the work accurately, they might, for instance, interview subject matter experts. 

    The members of the team themselves are fantastic resources as well. These are the persons who have been chosen for the project according to their degree of training, experience, and knowledge. They are priceless since their practical experience will offer a viewpoint that might be lacking from other options. 

    Why is WBS Dictionary Important?

    Since a work breakdown structure is indeed a visual tool, it lacks the space to discuss the specifics of each stage due to its graphic nature. It would be challenging to interpret and use the WBS if this information were added. Therefore, the WBS dictionary's goal is to give the WBS more context and improve its usability. 

    This is the reason why work breakdown structures designate each individual phase with a title and frequently a number. So it is pretty crucial to know the importance of work breakdown structure and how these labels correlate to the WBS dictionary, which provides a thorough explanation of the respective step's objectives and methods. This deepens the understanding of what is required to effectively complete the project among team members who consult the WBS dictionary. 

    There is a reasonable limit to how much specific information can be provided in each element of the WBS because it is graphic. But by utilizing a brief title and a numbered system on the visual in the WBS and giving more information about these WBS parts in the WBS dictionary, we may resolve this issue.

    Because of their perspective within the WBS hierarchy of elements, stakeholders who read these in-depth explanations in the WBS lexicon have a far better knowledge of the scope of work. If the resources use the WBS dictionary, they will have a far better knowledge of the work that must be accomplished. 

    Finally, we will considerably increase compliance with organizational standards and improve quality by connecting document templates and samples from our actual projects. The advantage of maintaining and developing a WBS Dictionary is that it will help us complete the task correctly the first time by arming the team with the knowledge they need to produce deliverables of a high caliber that adhere to project specifications and organizational standards.  

    WBS glossary can assist in ensuring that the project complies with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements. Additionally, it can guarantee that the outputs come up to the stakeholders' high standards for quality. Making ensuring the project work is completed the first time correctly or even avoiding costly and time-consuming mistakes can be achieved by using a WBS glossary. 

    Components of WBS Dictionary

    Typically, project managers consult the project team members when creating the WBS with WBS Dictionary. They take into account all the project's factors and components to develop a WBS Dictionary that, in the end, provides the tasks visible as well as simple for all the project's stakeholders to understand. WBS Dictionary does not have a predetermined structure or design. However, every WBS Dictionary contains the same 12 elements. The following are some of the essential work breakdown structure components:

    1IdentificationA code or account identity that enables the correct reference in the WBS Dictionary should be assigned to each job of the project that is described in the WBS.
    2DescriptionIt gives a succinct explanation of the tasks. The project expectations can then be used to measure this.
    3Assumptions/ConstraintsPlanning for probable delays is made simple by mentioning the presumptions and restrictions of the jobs in the WBS.
    4Assigning ResponsibilityEach assignment should be given to the appropriate team or professional who will be in charge of completing it.
    5Define MilestoneBoth the beginning as well as the end of a project should be highlighted accurately and properly. In a WBS Dictionary, all significant project milestones should be listed.
    6Related DeliverablesAll activities, including deliverables connected to the project tasks, should be listed in the WBS Dictionary.
    7Required ResourcesIn a WBS Dictionary, the tools, supplies, and equipment required to complete a certain task are also specified.
    8Estimated CostsThis covers the calculation of expenses related to each WBS task.
    9Quality RequirementsThis section discusses the quality requirements and the expectations that the stakeholders have for each WBS component.
    10Acceptance CriteriaIn this part, the acceptability standards for each component are specified, along with the decision-maker.
    11Technical ReferenceHere, it is possible to list any guidelines, instructions, or standards that were used to carry out the job.
    12Agreement InformationThis section contains lists of agreements, such as corporate agreements, contracts, etc.

    To know more about how to make WBS dictionary, WBS project, WBS chart, or even to gain in-depth knowledge about the WBS software, especially to know the correct utilization of the WBS tool, go for Project Management certification for beginners which is explained with WBS diagram and necessary WBS sample. This course is also perfect for people who want to learn about PMBOK WBS dictionary. 

    Steps to Create WBS Dictionary

    Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary can be made after the WBS- Work Breakdown Structure has indeed been authorized. The Project Manager directs the development of WBS Dictionary created by the project team's SME-Subject Matter Experts. The Level 1 Elements mark the start of the development approach, which continues down each Leg and ends with the Work Packages. The work inside each Level 1 is maintained in alignment as well as compliance with the 100% Rule thanks to this hierarchical method. 

    It is crucial to keep the information of each Element in the WBS Dictionary concise. The WBS Dictionary's main goal is to provide project team members with a thorough grasp of the work being done in all of the Elements, but especially the Work Packages. It is not a revision of the work authorization package, the scope statement, the contract or agreement, etc. It is a succinct discussion of key issues pertaining to each Element. 

    Guidelines for Creating and Maintaining WBS Dictionary 

    To achieve consistency, experts highly advise that we adopt a consistent structure for supplying descriptive data for each WBS Element. It will also play the role of a model for the writer and the audience. 

    • We should supply less detail for WBS elements higher in the hierarchy and much more detail for elements lower in the hierarchy. 
    • Including the WBS as well as the WBS dictionary within the same document is a smart idea. The project team and stakeholders won't have to conduct any information searches as a result. Whenever they are having a look at the WBS, they will have access to all the data it contains in the WBS dictionary, which is present on the same page. 
    • The Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary is always being updated to reflect the constantly shifting situation. To ensure proper project management, we should regularly check the WBS dictionary's contents. 
    • Using a template of the WBS Dictionary while performing the following stages is a smart approach to guarantee that this format is followed. 

    Remember to keep the specifics for each component on the WBS concise and to the point once you've finished your research and are prepared to create your WBS dictionary. The key benefit of a WBS dictionary is that the project team can understand it with ease. While a WBS dictionary has no predetermined format, most publications follow these twelve steps as a unifying theme:

    1. Identify the Item

    Each step mentioned on your WBS needs a code as well as an accounting identity, so identify the item. This enables you to match the steps in your WBS vocabulary to the appropriate WBS item. 

    2. Describe It

    Here is where the task is described in depth. It should be expressed succinctly and unambiguously. 

    3. Considerations and Limitations

    Make a note of any presumptions or restrictions related to the work, such as equipment requirements, dependencies on other activities, etc., so that you can prepare for them and prevent any delays. 

    4. Identify the Owner

    Each task will be allocated to a member of the team who will be responsible for carrying it out and completing it successfully. This is where it's stated who it is. 

    5. Set Milestone

    Establish a Milestone: A milestone is a significant date in the project that typically marks the conclusion of one phase and the start of another. The WBS dictionary needs to note these. 

    6. Establish a Schedule

    Regardless of whether your WBS is broken into projects or deliverables, they will need to be scheduled, including having the start and finish dates set. 

    7. Resources Listing

    Make a note of the resources—tools, materials, equipment, etc.—that are needed to complete the work in your resource plan. 

    8. Cost Calculation

    Every work will require resources to complete, whether resources, supplies, or labor. This estimate of the cost should be included. 

    9. Explain Quality

    Take note of the standards for quality that your stakeholders set for each WBS stage. 

    10. Know Acceptance Standards

    Each duty needs to be accomplished correctly, and someone with authority needs to vouch for it. There must be measures by which to judge this. You can make a note of that person as well as the selection criteria here. 

    11. Incorporate Technical References

    Any instructions, manuals, standards, etc. required to direct the completion of the activities should be gathered here. 

    12. Resolve Disputes

    List any contracts, business agreements, and other project-related documents in the final paragraph.

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    WBS Dictionary Template Example

    A valuable communication tool, the work breakdown structure dictionary clarifies the WBS for stakeholders and aids in their comprehension. By specifying the scope of the job, the WBS Dictionary aims to prevent scope creep, including gold plating. Team members will be aware of their responsibilities thanks to a transparent job assignment and clear task description, which prevent misunderstandings.  

    No more work will be required. The WBS, which serves as a graphic depiction of the scope of work, is complemented by the WBS Dictionary. Since the WBS dictionary template is graphical, WBS Dictionary steps in to help describe the scope of work. Here is a WBS dictionary example that helps to complete and improves the usability of WBS by adding more data. 

    The entire scope of work must be included in the WBS, and you cannot display it in a graphical but rather tabular format. To ensure that it includes all work, WBS Dictionary defines the range of work for each WBS element. WBS Dictionary is frequently referred to as a work package description tool. They are also developed hierarchically, just as WBS, to methodically describe the WBS elements.

    WBS Examples

    WBS Dictionary Sample and Template: Who Uses It? 

    Project managers should use this WBS template to plan the project timeline. However, it is crucial that everyone is involved with the project because the WBS has to include each step leading to the project's final deliverable. 

    The team members will carry out the project, whereas the project manager will direct the process. They may fill in any holes the project manager may have missed because they have the knowledge and experience to do so. It's important to involve the team because they will also be given ownership of duties, making it clear who is responsible for what.  

    WBS template should be utilized throughout the planning phase, as mentioned above, but it should be available at all times when the project is being carried out. Although the WBS isn't a strategy or a schedule for the project, it can help ensure that no deliverables are overlooked. The WBS, which defines the project's scope, must be redone whenever anything changes throughout execution. 


    The core of WBS is the WBS Dictionary. WBS serves as a framework and offers comprehensive details on WBS components. It serves as the foundation for creating work authorization, cost projections, schedule development, and task management for projects. In light of the aforementioned illustration, it is clear how a WBS Dictionary would include information on the materials, expenses, time needed, damages, and equipment that would result in additional costs to finish the project of building a fence. 

    Potential project managers who really are prepared to engage in formal training might better comprehend their tasks as well as their completion by grasping WBS dictionary in project management concepts. In case you realize that you lack resources on the topic of WBS dictionary for construction project. You can opt for KnowledgeHut PMP online course to get a better grip on the types of WBS and usability of project planning WBS. Complete understanding and implementation of WBS and the WBS dictionary will enable you to confidently work toward successful project delivery and meet organizational goals.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What is the WBS dictionary and why is it useful?

    The specifics of the work breakdown structure are tasks, activities, including deliverables, which are found in a WBS dictionary. The project scope, any relevant milestones, dates, resources, cost, and quantity are all included in the material. 

    2. Is the activity list the same as the WBS dictionary?

    A list of meanings for each term or component in the WBS dictionary. The MS Project activity list is the one that you use for planning to make a Gant Chart. 

    3. Which document is used while creating a WBS dictionary?

    The specifics of the work breakdown structure's tasks, deliverables, and activities are not contained in a single document that is used as a WBS dictionary.  

    4. What is the relationship between control accounts & WBS dictionary?

    Actions or small communities of related tasks having a set scope, timeline, and budget are referred to as control accounts. The WBS- Work Breakdown Structure gives your control accounts structure and can be utilized for reporting and cost management within a project. 

    5. What are the different types of WBS?

    The process-oriented and deliverable-oriented work breakdown structures (WBS) are the two forms of WBS that are frequently used in project management. 


    Kevin D.Davis

    Blog Author

    Kevin D. Davis is a seasoned and results-driven Program/Project Management Professional with a Master's Certificate in Advanced Project Management. With expertise in leading multi-million dollar projects, strategic planning, and sales operations, Kevin excels in maximizing solutions and building business cases. He possesses a deep understanding of methodologies such as PMBOK, Lean Six Sigma, and TQM to achieve business/technology alignment. With over 100 instructional training sessions and extensive experience as a PMP Exam Prep Instructor at KnowledgeHut, Kevin has a proven track record in project management training and consulting. His expertise has helped in driving successful project outcomes and fostering organizational growth.

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