23 November, 2023

What is a Workstream? And What is a Workstream Leader?

Two common terms in many projects – particularly traditional, predictive projects – are Workstream and Workstream Leader. So, what are they?

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Defining Workstreams

What do the Manuals say about Workstreams

None of the big manuals of Project Management mention workstreams, let alone explain them. Here, I include:

Are Workstreams Real?

So, are workstreams a real thing?

Well, yes, they are. And there are two ways to think of them.

Gantt Chart view of Workstreams

On a Gantt Chart, we can literally see streams of activities. Each one runs in parallel to other streams of activity. These are, therefore, work streams.

And the people who lead those streams of work? You guessed it! They are Work Stream Leaders.

Work Breakdown Structure view of Workstreams

The other way to look at Work Streams is on a Work Breakdown Structure, or WBS. At the top level, we break the work down into major areas. These are the top-level work streams – again, head up by a work stream leader. These are often based on a particular function, technology type, or geographic region.

So, I shall turn to my own free guide, Be on the Inside: Decode the Jargon of Project Managementdefines work stream as

‘A subset of the Work Breakdown Structure that is allocated to a single manager, the Work Stream Leader.’

By the way, if you are looking for a basic Project Management book that does mention Work Streams… You can do a lot worse than my own book, How to Manage a Great Project. Or, better still, why not take one of my core Project Management courses at OnlinePMCourses.com?

Carefully curated video recommendations for you:

What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

Learn Still More

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If you want basic Management Courses – free training hosted on YouTube, with 2 new management lessons a week, check out our sister channel, Management Courses.

For more of our Project Management videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management.

For more of our videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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