Construction Management Engineering

Creating A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) In Project Management

Work Breakdown Structure

WBS work breakdown structure is the key to any deliverable building project organizing the job of the team into manageable parts. The  PMBOK defines the WBS as a “deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team.” The work WBS defines the scope into manageable work packages that project members can understand, as each level of the WBS provides further definition and detail.

WBS always created by identifying the major functional deliverables & subdividing those deliverables into smaller systems & sub-deliverables. These sub-deliverables are decomposed until a single team member can be assigned. At this WBS level, the specific work packages required to produce the sub- deliverable are identified & grouped together. The work package represents a list of activities to produce a specific unit of work. If you’ve seen detailed time schedules of any project time schedules, then you’ll recognize the activities under the work package as the “stuff” people need to complete at a certain time and within a specific level of effort.

Why use a Work Breakdown Structure In Project Management?

The WBS has many benefits in addition to defining & organizing the project work. The project budget can be allocated to the top WBS levels of the work breakdown structure and department budgets can be calculated quickly based on the WBS work breakdown structure of each project. By allocating time & cost estimates to specific sections of the WBS, a project schedule & budget can be quickly developed. As the project executes, specific sections of the work breakdown structure can be tracked to identify project cost performance and identify issues & problem areas in the project organization.

The project WBS can also be used to identify potential risks in a given project. If the WBS has a branch that is not well defined then it represents a scope definition risk. These project risks should be tracked in a project log & reviewed as the project executes. The project manager can also recognize communication points and formulate a communication plan across the project organization by incorporating the work breakdown structure with an organizational breakdown structure.

Work Breakdown Structure Guidelines

The following guidelines should be considered when creating a WBS:

  • Top level represents the final deliverable or project
  • The WBS Sub-deliverable contain work packages that are assigned to an organization’s department or unit
  • All elements of the WBS don’t need to be defined to the same level in the WBS
  • The WBS Work Package defines the work, duration, and cost of the tasks needed to produce the sub-supply
  • In the work breakdown structure, work packages in WBS should not exceed 10 days
  • Work packages in WBS should be independent of other work packages in the WBS
  • The Work packages in the WBS are unique & should not be duplicated across the WBS.

See Also

Activity Codes In Primavera P6

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