What Is a Product Breakdown Structure? (With Definition and Benefits)

The Product Breakdown Structure (PBS) is a useful tool for product and project managers to organize and structure their projects. It allows them to break down their projects into smaller, more manageable elements and to keep track of the progress of each element. A PBS helps teams to identify and track the components, stakeholders, and deliverables associated with each element of a project, providing an overview of the project’s complexity. By breaking down a large project into smaller, more manageable components, a PBS can help managers to plan, budget, and track progress more efficiently. This blog post will provide an overview of the concept of the Product Breakdown Structure, outline its key components, and explain how it can be used to help project and product managers stay on top of their projects.

The multiple facets of the PBS (Product Breakdown Structure)

What is the purpose of a product breakdown structure?

Professionals can break down a large project into smaller tasks with the aid of a product breakdown structure, which also enables multiple people to manage their separate project components at once. The project team members can see each other’s work thanks to the product breakdown structure. This openness can make it easier to monitor a project’s progress and predict when team members might finish their individual tasks. Additionally, you can use outside digital tools to link each component’s budget, KPIs, and resources to the structure so that it can serve as a single resource for your employing organization.

What is a product breakdown structure?

A visual project management tool called a product breakdown structure maps out large projects and identifies their desired outcomes. This diagram provides a hierarchical view of the various deliverables involved in an embedded project and divides the project into individual parts. The final product is frequently at the top of the chart, followed by smaller deliverables and even smaller sub-components of those deliverables.

Although a product breakdown structure may be developed under the supervision of project managers, this document is typically created through a collaborative process. Various departments, clients, and executive management may have an impact on a product breakdown structure’s constituent parts. While some groups might decide to create a brief document, others might prefer to include product descriptions for a more in-depth diagram.

Product breakdown structure vs. work breakdown structure

A work breakdown structure and a product breakdown structure look similar, but they operate differently. Knowing how each tool works can help you decide when to use the appropriate structure. The primary distinction between these two diagrams is that a work breakdown structure may outline the work a team needs to complete to achieve the final product as intended, whereas a product breakdown structure only refers to a physical product and its components.

Ideally, both documents can work together to help you comprehend how to properly construct a final product. Both documents may be necessary for developing an overall project plan. Consider scanning each document to make sure you only include pertinent information. Consider moving a landing page from your work breakdown structure to a product breakdown structure because it is a deliverable rather than the tasks that go into its creation.

How does a product breakdown structure work?

Typically, a group will generate ideas for a product breakdown structure together. For instance, individual team members could offer their suggestions for the needs of the product. Hosting an inter-departmental idea development session can also be helpful because it may produce a more complete set of components if different perspectives are included. Teams can start with a paper version of their product breakdown structure and later use project management software to create a final copy.

Each element in a work breakdown structure, which teams frequently refer to as an embedded project, typically has its own WBS, resources, and budget, all of which may be available to the manager or the entire team. For greater clarity, you can label products as internal or external. An example of an internal product would be a research budget, whereas an external product might be the copy for a landing page.

Reasons to use a product breakdown structure

Project management tasks can benefit from using a product breakdown structure. This document may be consulted by project managers, delivery managers, and team leads when organizing a project, creating a product, or providing products to customers. Following are some tasks that a product breakdown structure can assist you with:

Benefits of using a product breakdown structure

Some benefits of using a product breakdown structure include:

Increased transparency

Utilizing a product breakdown structure could encourage an open culture within your company. It might be simpler to monitor progress and offer and accept assistance when team members can see who is working on which part of a project. In order to provide a thorough analysis of outcomes in conversations with stakeholders like clients and managers, you can also make use of a product breakdown structure. This can be used to set expectations and give feedback opportunities.

Strengthened alignment

This document may also serve as a tool for creating a project’s common terminology. Given that some teams may use terms unique to their discipline, this may be useful for large projects involving multiple teams, such as development, marketing, and finance. Communication between departments can be facilitated by having an internal document with agreed-upon terminology. A product breakdown structure also provides departments with a framework to understand how elements interact and keeps them focused on a single goal.


A product breakdown structure can also be used by managers to spot productivity gaps and monitor the development of a project on a group or individual basis. For instance, this tool makes it simple to identify who is accountable if a deliverable is incomplete. Then you can work with them to come up with a solution that might make it simpler to finish a project.


A clear definition of the components of a final product in a product breakdown structure can aid team members, managers, and clients in understanding the goal. Some team members might also value the product breakdown structure’s visual nature, which makes it easier for them to comprehend a project’s requirements. Additionally, this structure can aid in placing other documents, such as budgets and work breakdown structures specific to teams, within the context of a bigger project.


This tool could also assist team members in coordinating a significant project. Timelines for various components may vary, and some team members may work on a number of sub-components over the course of the entire process. Project managers can better organize a project by categorizing deliverables using a product breakdown structure.

Budget management

You could make the most of your time and money by defining the physical products you want to concentrate on in detail. You can determine whether a task moves a project closer to completing a deliverable by using a product breakdown structure. Eliminating tasks and expenses that don’t add value to a project can also be accomplished by referring to the obligations you have to stakeholders.


What is shown in a product breakdown structure?

Similar to a list of ingredients or a shopping list, a product breakdown structure (PBS) primarily outlines the components of a project or product.

What is product breakdown structure in project management?

A project’s hierarchy of the products or results it will produce is called a product breakdown structure, or PBS. It can be thought of as the project “shopping list. It breaks down “Main Project Products” into their component parts using a hierarchical structure.

What is PBS and WBS?

The output of scope management is a specification, which may be shown as a product breakdown structure (PBS) displaying the deliverables and a work breakdown structure (WBS) displaying the work necessary to produce them.

How do you do a product breakdown?

Steps to identify products Compile a list of all the products from the meeting attendees; check it for duplications; group the remaining products into categories that make sense to each other; and create a product breakdown structure diagram.

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