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Decomposition in Project Management

What is Decomposition?

Meaning of “decomposition” is in chemistry is “to break, or to break something into smaller parts”. This meaning of decomposition perfectly suits to the area of project management.

PMBOK defines Decomposition as a technique used for dividing and subdividing the project scope and project deliverables into smaller, more manageable parts.

These small and manageable parts of the entire project work are called Work packages. The work package is the work defined at the lowest level of the WBS for which cost and duration can be estimated and managed.

The level of decomposition is often guided by the degree of control needed to effectively manage the project. The level of detail for work packages will vary with the size and complexity of the project.

Activities involved in Decomposition of the total project work into work packages:

• Identifying and analyzing the deliverables and related work;
• Structuring and organizing the WBS;
• Decomposing the upper WBS levels into lower-level detailed components;
• Developing and assigning identification codes to the WBS components; and
• Verifying that the degree of decomposition of the deliverables is appropriate.

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