In this blog, we explain how anyone can easily create a Work Breakdown Structure with the help of humble Post-it notes!
Once you have your list of tasks all neatly grouped into categories, it's time to move on to putting them into a running order, which is where Post-it notes come into their own.
Is your Work Breakdown Structure ready?
If you haven't got a task list yet, you're here too early! Jump back a step and read our post that explains how to create a Work Breakdown Structure first.
1. Post-its at the ready!
Start by writing your tasks on Post-it notes, one for each task. You may have already done this when you created your Work Breakdown Structure, so you're good to go.
2. Do you need to create some sub-projects?
The granularity of tasks is important here - we don't want too many tasks and Post-its in any one project as they'll become difficult to manage. If you've more than 30 tasks, it might be worth creating a sub-project for some of them, effectively replacing several tasks with one on your primary plan.
3. Add in any milestones you anticipate taking place
Milestones are a point in time where something important happens, but there isn't a duration associated. It could be that you're expecting a delivery of some equipment on a given date, or perhaps a new team member is joining the company. Either way, by using milestones, you can easily keep track of these important happenings.
Tip: We always show milestones as a diamond shape in project management. When you add your milestones to your Post-its, draw a diamond around them so you can see them for what they are.
4. Build your running order
Now for the fun part, it's time to put all your tasks into a running order.
You'll need to stick your Post-its onto a flat surface, ideally a wall or whiteboard. The key is doing it somewhere that you and anyone working with you can easily see all of the tasks.
5. Add your starting activities
First, add your start activities, which is anything you can do that doesn't depend on something else happening before it. This doesn't have to be just one task, as it may be that multiple tasks can begin at the same time.
6. Add dependent tasks
Now we want to add tasks in horizontal rows based on what comes before and after them. We always arrange the tasks left to right in dependency order.
Work out what comes after your start activities and then what comes after them. It might take a bit of shuffling around, but that's the brilliant thing about using Post-its; you can quickly move them around as you go.
Before long, you'll have something that resembles a logical running order for the project.
7. Add your milestones
Add your milestones into the rows of tasks; you can do this while doing the step before or afterwards, whichever you prefer.
8. Do you need any extra tasks?
While doing this process, you often think about new tasks that need to be included, and that's fine. Write them on new Post-its and add them to your plan.
9. Connect your tasks with arrows
The final part of sequencing your tasks is connecting them all with arrows. Put an arrow into each starting activity on the left-hand side and then add arrows out of them on their right to their dependents.
Remember, tasks can have multiple arrows going into and out of them.
These arrows show how tasks are dependent on each other, so whether something else has to happen before starting this task. It could be that a task has multiple dependencies and, therefore, would have numerous arrows entering from the left.
Tips for creating a brilliant running order:
- This exercise works best when a few people are involved; invite your teammates to help
- Give yourself space on the board or wall by starting and ending in the vertical middle
- Remember to add a "Finished" milestone at the end of your project
How this process feeds into Mr Gantt
We recommend following the process as explained in this post, entirely offline. It's the best way for you and your team to work together and easily create a running order. Once you've built your sequence and added durations to tasks (one for another day), you can load them into Mr Gantt.
In time, and if there's demand for it, we'll look at bringing this process into the software so that you can interact with virtual Post-it notes on a computer or even via a screen share in a video call.