PRINCE2 is a project management methodology that helps project managers deliver their projects with higher efficiency and improved results. A professional certification trains people of different levels of expertise in the principles and practices of the PRINCE2 methodology. Project managers often turn to PRINCE2 methods to help them with their project’s first stage, the planning stage.
This situation is where the product breakdown structure comes into play. A product breakdown structure (PBS) provides project managers and their teams with a system of all the requirements to be added to their project before completion. The following article discusses what a product breakdown structure is and how to build one.
What is a Product Breakdown Structure?
A PBS or product breakdown structure is a tool offered by the PRINCE2 methodology to help project teams plan their upcoming projects efficiently. It is a vital tool of the PRINCE2 methods because a product breakdown structure is what project managers use to plan and break down all the project components into workable sections. This helps project managers and their teams keep track of all their deliverables and timelines and manage their projects more efficiently.
Some of the features of a product breakdown structure are:
1. The product breakdown structure depends on the type of product the team is responsible for building for. The requirements and tools necessary for the project will differ accordingly.
2. A PBS is a hierarchy of all the deliverables in a flow chart format. Each category has different subcategories under it, and those keep getting divided further and further until they reach the smallest component of each part of the product.
3. A product breakdown structure creates a structural view of all the components involved in a project, making it easier for teams to track and plan their project in their entirety.
4. It also becomes a lot easier for team members to share the project details with other teams and stakeholders and to receive feedback.
5. All team members work together in the planning process to create the product breakdown structure. This way, all the requirements and business needs of the product are being met.
Types of Product Breakdown Structures
Project managers can create a product breakdown structure for any project or segment of a product in an organization. Product breakdown structures can be used to tackle risk within a project, including Agile methods in the project, create a stakeholder view of the project, and more. As long as the core structure of PBS remains, it can be used for any form of problem-solving. Some of the types of product breakdown structures are:
– Scenario planning for products
– Breakdown of goals for the product
– Breakdown of facility structure for a product
– A strategically mapped breakdown of tasks
– Risk breakdown for developing software
– Cost breakdown structure for products
– Resources breakdown structure for products
– Backlog breakdown template
Once any product breakdown structure has been created, all team members have to save the flowchart and export it to all the team members. This way, the entire project team has access to the product breakdown structure whenever they need it.
How to Create a Product Breakdown Structure?
To make the process of creating a product breakdown structure easier, teams should think of the PBS chart as a tool that needs to be assembled in itself. A pre-assembled tool will be made up of different components and various smaller devices that combine to create a fully working product. The parts of the product breakdown structure act as the components of the tool that needs to be assembled, and when combined, create a fully working product or project.
Some things to keep in mind while creating a product breakdown structure are listed below:
1. Project teams should ideally identify the different stages of the product development cycle as individual products and create a separate product description for each.
2. This will help project teams create different categories for each stage and different quality standards for them. This process helps break down the PBS even further so that there is no aspect or feature in a product that gets left out.
3. This also helps make sure each step is absolutely complete before the team begins the next step.
4. A product breakdown structure should use different colors, shapes, and styles to identify different product components in the product breakdown structure. This helps simplify the breakdown process by making it easier to determine various aspects of the product.
For example, different colors in a product breakdown structure can signify the various team members responsible for any particular task. Other shapes can represent different types of vendors, externally sourced material for the product, and more.
5. There needs to be a consensus for creating a product breakdown structure by team members before planning the project.
6. Ensure that the different product breakdown structures created for each stage for the project are also aligned with the overall project plan and the main product breakdown structure to avoid confusion.
7. Create a life cycle model for the product and assign timelines to each task in each stage of the product breakdown structure.
The Best Way to Create a Product Breakdown Structure
The best way to create and implement a product breakdown structure for projects is to follow PRINCE2 principles while creating the project’s flow. This guideline will help keep the PBS structurally sound and easy to understand by the team members, stakeholders, other departments in the organization, and other vendors. Certified project managers and team members who have done the PRINCE Certification in USA can create product breakdown structures efficiently because they have the knowledge to do so.
Another best practice for creating a thorough product breakdown structure involves the entire team while doing so. This will ensure all team members are on page with the style of the product breakdown structure to find it easy to understand in the future. Including the entire team can also open up a different group of ideas and considerations about the product because there are more perspectives involved in the planning process.
A PBS creation process should be like a brainstorming session among team members and the project manager to ensure each product’s workable component is considered in the plan. Teams need to work together to ensure that they include each part, every feature, and all the elements that create a successful product using the product breakdown structure. Using different team members will also help steer the PBS in the right direction because they will stay aligned to the project’s primary goals – high quality, timely delivery, and user satisfaction.