WBS Dictionary | WBS Dictionary Template to Use in your Project

WBS Dictionary contains all the details of each of the work packages in the project. You might have noticed that work breakdown structure has bare minimum the work package id and the work package name in it. Some organizations attach some more information in the WBS, such as cost and/or duration of the work package to deliver.

However what needs to understand here is the work breakdown structure (WBS) is always represented in a graphical hierarchical diagram. So it is not possible to put all the work package information in the WBS diagram. Certainly there are limitations in putting the information required to be part of WBS. Bare minimum work package ID and work package name is essential for each work package in the project.

And you and the project stakeholders needs more information on each work package such as what work to be performed as part of the work package, milestones, constraints, assumptions, estimations, etc. pertaining to each work package.

WBS Dictionary

WBS Dictionary

So, WBS dictionary comes handy exactly for that purpose. WBS dictionary contains all the information in detail about each work package in the project.

WBS Dictionary Template

A typical WBS Dictionary has the following structure:

WBS Dictionary Template

WBS Dictionary Template

Name of the project – Specify the name of the project

Work package ID – Specify the unique identifier of the work package.

Name of the Work Package – Name of the work package. Used by the stakeholders to refer to the work package in their communications.

Work Package Description – Complete statement of work (SOW) pertaining to the work package. Stakeholders use this information to understand what work to be performed to output the required deliverables on this work package.

Non Functional Requirements – Quality requirements of the work package such as performance, scalability, etc. specific to this work package.

Milestones – All the agreed milestone of the work package must go here. This typically includes, the work package start date, delivery due date, etc…

Account Code – Account code is one of the very important information of the work package. This is the identifier to tag for the account settlements with the customer.

Assigned to – Who is going to work on this work package

Department – Responsible for the work on the work package.

Estimation – High level and top down effort and cost estimation to give the stakeholders and idea on the effort and cost.

Constraints – If there are any constraints for the work package. All stakeholders must understand the limitations bound to the work package.

Assumptions – You must validate the assumptions with the relevant stakeholders.

The above mentioned template provides the typical structure of the WBS dictionary entry. However, if there is any additional information which will add value to the project, in terms of managing and delivering the work package successfully should be added to the WBS dictionary.

WBS Dictionary is part of Scope Baseline

WBS Dictionary Vs Scope Baseline

WBS Dictionary Vs Scope Baseline

Scope baseline comprises of project scope statement, WBS and WBS dictionary. Whenever there is a scope change in the project, once change control board approves it, you create a new version of scope baseline to accommodate the approved changes.

WBS Dictionary – Guidelines

Following are some of the guidelines to consider for WBS dictionary.

  • You must discuss and agree with stakeholders on what is structure of WBS Dictionary throughout your project for consistency. You don’t need to start from nothing. Existing WBS and WBS dictionary artifacts from organization process assets may be reused to start with.
  • That will work as a starting point for you, and to customize to your project further.
  • WBS dictionary should have pointer to which work package the WBS dictionary entry is referring to. So the best practice is to make sure you have work package identifier and name for each WBS dictionary entry.
  • Some of the organizations follow a single document to describe both WBS and WBS dictionary. However, some organization make it separate and follow a mapping mechanism, so that stakeholders know where to look exactly for more information on each work package.
  • Always keep you WSB dictionary up-to-date. Projects are progressively elaborated. So more information may be available,  as we progress through the project. You must periodically review the WBS dictionary to keep this up to date. Stakeholders look for WBS Dictionary to understand more information about the work package. So make sure it is up to date and communicate to the stakeholders on updates to the WBS dictionary in a periodical manner, as required by the communication management plan.
  • Ideally WBS is not the place to show the order of the work packages or dependencies between them. However, some information in this regard may appear in your WBS dictionary in the form of constraints and assumptions.


WBS dictionary is the place to document additional information pertaining to the work packages in the project.

We have then considered what will go in a typical WBS dictionary in the form of a WBS dictionary template.

WBS dictionary is part of the scope baseline. So you will create the next version of scope baseline for every approved change from change control board (CCB).

Finally, we have seen guideline to consider when creating WBS dictionary.

Hope this helped you in understanding what WBS dictionary is. Please comment below, if you have any queries. Please feel free to spread the work, if you like this article.

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