Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and project risk management

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a popular tool in project management practices that serves to break down large initiatives and products into small logical tasks and components.

The following article describes sample logic when considering creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Submit your description of the structure of the work packages for the project (work areas, work packages, activities) The description should be according to the generally accepted standards for presentation of the structure (WBS).

Each project has a specific organizational structure. Given the data in the case, the specific structure of the project can be presented as follows:

  • Beneficiary: National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues
  • Coordinator: Directorate “Ethnic and Demographic Issues” in the Administration of the Council of Ministers
  • Assignor: Central Financing and Contracting Unit, Ministry of Finance
  • Contractor: Consortium with a leading partner company for the development of public procurement
  • Target groups: 100 teachers from high schools with ethnically mixed class 100 teachers from high schools with ethnically mixed time students Students studying in middle schools and high schools in ethnically mixed regions, Parents of students studying in high schools and high schools in ethnically mixed regions

As can be seen, the project is being implemented with the cooperation of the public authorities and the consortium organized for this purpose. Presented in this way, the project is a typical example of a public-private partnership.

What is characteristic of the project is the participation of a number of bodies that have different functions – coordinator, contracting authority and contractor. This ensures both targeted use of project funds and quality implementation, given the fact that coordination and organization is under the auspices of individual bodies.

Possible risks for the project

The risks can lead to negative consequences for the project. Reference: Methodology for risk assessment and project risk management, 2020  They can hinder the implementation of the project, ie. to affect the achievement of the planned results with the required quality, in the required time and within the budget, as well as to affect the achievement of the project objectives. Certain adverse events could make the project unprofitable.

Risk has three main components: description (formulation), probability and impact. The risk must be described in sufficient detail and in such a way that it cannot be mistaken for another risk. During the implementation of the project additional information about the risk is collected, which supplements or changes its description.
The probability of any risk materializing can be determined by a number between 0 and 1. Any event with a probability of 0 will not occur and is therefore not a risk. Events with a probability of 1 are likely to occur and are therefore not risks.

Taking into account both the specifics of social projects and the general theory of project management and the data presented in the case, the risks of the project can be divided into two main groups: external and internal.
External risks are caused by changes in the environment in which the project operates. They can arise from:

  • Change in the strategy of public authorities – change in the strategic directions of integration and inclusion of ethnic minorities;
  • The instability of the environment in which the project is implemented;
  • Change in the requirements of the program related to the financing of such projects;
  • Political factors, including public opinion;
  • Discrepancy of the approved requirements with the expectations of the users.

Internal risks are threats to the achievement of project results within time and cost and with the specified quality. These are risks that can be managed by the project team. Internal risks can be grouped into the following categories:

Risks related to a third party resource provider or responsible for the implementation of a certain part of the project:

In this case, the third party is the consortium formed. Various reasons can lead to failure, according to the corporate governance of the consortium, the presence of problems in its activities, etc.

Mismatch between the requirements and the capacity of the contractor (skills, technologies);
Problems with quality control.

As this is a matter of providing educational services, their quality can be difficult to measure. This is due to the fact that educational services are intangible, which is definitely a problem in measuring them.

On the other hand, the provision of quality educational services is the basis for the success of the project, which means that risk management efforts must be focused in this direction.

Identification is the process of identifying potential risks and documenting them. Various techniques can be used to determine the risks, such as document review, brainstorming, Delphi method, nominal group, expert review, checklists and analogy. The highlights of these methods are the use of past experience and consultation with a wider range of people. In group work on risk identification, a free exchange of views must be ensured. Opportunities for high-ranking participants in the discussions to dominate the group by virtue of their official position should be minimized.

The identified risks are documented in a Risk Register. Reference: Project risk management, analysis and mitigation in Agile projects, 2019,

Documentation is important as it is a necessary condition for risk management throughout the project. The Risk register may initially include information on the name of the risk, the description of the risk and the date on which it was registered.

In the process of working on the project, the register is supplemented, and the following information can be included in it:

• Member of the team responsible for risk management;
• Components of the project that may be affected;
• Probability of materialization of risk;
• Impact of the risk;
• Strength of risk;
• Control measures

Risk analysis also includes determining whether it is acceptable or not. If it is not, this means that what actions can be taken to make the risk more acceptable.

For the control of each risk, activities can be envisaged in each of the working structures of the project. When the costs of risk control outweigh the potential benefits, the risk may be accepted (if its impact can be absorbed by the project) or the project may be terminated if it is deemed to be too risky.

Prevention, or risk avoidance, means that the risk no longer exists. This is usually achieved by reprogramming the project, changing the methods, activities or results or excluding the risk part.


In the case, a certain type of data related to project management was analyzed. The presented project is social, which means that it is aimed at a larger group of people, and the results of the project are related to increased public interest. This implies a basic direction of project management, guaranteeing and protecting against certain risks.

The transfer of risk does not guarantee the successful implementation of the project, the financial protection during the transfer may not be sufficient to compensate for the losses of the project.

Therefore, it is necessary both to scan the external environment of the project and to identify the key forms of risk in providing the relevant educational and qualification service.

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