Would like to discuss my answer to the following question relating to work break down structure:

A company runs a mail-order business and has a requirement for a new application on its existing menu-driven computerized engineering system that will allow staff to do the following tasks:

1) Query their current customer database and add new customer details.

2) Order goods from suppliers when customers place purchase mail-orders

3) Send monthly bills to each customer as appropriate for goods sent to that customer.

4) Check outstanding debts and issue reminders

The following wbs shows an initial plan but contains 4 mistakes. Identify and explain them.

enter image description here

My answer:

Mistake 1: Not sure if "Client's requirements" should be included in the wbds.

Mistake 2: "Design order form" should not be placed under "Query Functions", instead should be placed under "Order Goods Functions"

Mistake 3: "Order Goods Functions" should be in level 1.

Mistake 4: Integration into Live system should be broken down. "Build and Test" will be placed under "Integration into live system".

Appreciate any suggestions/ corrections. Thanks

  • 4
    I just wanted to add a comment because I feel bad that you have no responses. I assume this is for some sort of class. This is a horrible question from the teacher. A WBS is supposed to help you break down work into its component parts. If you are able to analyze what work has to be done and it helps you understand the scope, it worked. Asking you to pick apart mistakes like this is very difficult, incredibly subjective, and ultimately misses the point of a WBS.
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 21:53
  • Totally agree with Daniel's point above. And this is clearly an exercise. One approach that would help you and also avoid people here at PMSE merely giving you the answers, would be to construct your own WBS from the requirements you have been given and then see where it differs from the one given. You can then discuss the key differences as if they were the mistakes. Either you will be right and will have affirmed you know how to do a WBS, or you will be wrong, but will (hopefully) learn why...
    – Marv Mills
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 12:41
  • A WBS should capture dependencies. I'm not sure the diagram above does that with an acceptable level of granularity.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 11:35

1 Answer 1


I agree with @Daniel's comment that this is a poor question to ask.

In terms of suggestions be wary that this may be in part a trick question as a mistake may be components missing from the WBS. For example, a best practice is to include project management activities (initiating, planning, controlling/monitoring, closing) in the WBS as they represent work within the scope of the project.

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