How to Use Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Microsoft Project 2016 – Part 1

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During this Microsoft Project 2016 advanced training tutorial video, we will discuss what outline numbering is and some of problems relating to it. We will also explain what WBS codes is and show you how to customize WBS codes.

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Hello again and welcome back to our course on Project 2016 Advanced.

In this section we’re going to start to look at Outline Numbering and WBS Codes. You may not have come across these before so I’m going to start by explaining Outline Numbering.
For this section and the next one I’m going to use this house build project. There’s not a lot of detail in it at the moment but there’s enough for our purposes in terms of outline numbering.

Now something like building a house is a pretty structured kind of project and will very often have a very similar structure to other house build projects.

Now behind the scenes Project 2016 maintains a set of outline numbers for you. What I want to do first of all is to show you the outline numbers for this particular project. So I’m going to insert here to the left of the Start column in the table the Outline Number column. So there it is, Outline Number. And the outline numbers that are assigned to the tasks follow the structure of the tasks themselves. So for instance, here we have summary tasks Site, Base, Lockup and their outline numbers are one, two, three. And within each of those summary tasks the next level of task has a dot and then the second part of the outline number. So Clear site is 1.1, Set out is 1.2 and so on. If I introduce subtasks within Clear site, for example, so let me put a task in there, then that task gets an outline number of 1.1.1 and so on.

Now the good news about all this is that Project 2016 does all the work on maintaining those numbers for you. So what’s the point of these outline numbers? Well they’re used to be able to uniquely identify a task within a schedule. And the kind of purpose you may put that to is, for example, if you wanted to relate materials to a particular task. So if you were say ordering some steel to use for the structural steel frame here task ID 21 which has an outline number of 4.3. When you ordered the steel in order to make sure that people knew which particular project and task the steel was for then you might provide the name of the project and the outline number of the specific task that that steel was to be used for. So it’s a way not only of identifying tasks within a project but also to adding some structure to that identification.

Now on the face of it that sounds like quite a good idea. But in practice the use of these outline numbers is a little bit fraught with problems. If you have a very, very fixed structure in your projects and possibly you’re reusing the same structure over and over again and there is rarely, if ever, a need to vary that structure then this approach can work. But if in fact what you need is to have something that can deal with variations with the addition of new tasks then it doesn’t. Let me quickly show you the sort of problem you get with this approach.

Sorry, we couldn’t fit the entire video transcription here since YouTube only allows 5000 characters.

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