Work Breakdown Structure

The successful accomplishment of both contract and corporate objectives requires a plan that defines all effort to be expended, assigns responsibility to a specially identified organizational element, and establishes schedules and budgets for the accomplishment of the work. The preparation of this plan is the responsibility of the program manager, who is assisted by the program team assigned in accordance with program management system directives. The detailed planning is also established in accordance with company budgeting policy before contractural efforts are initiated.

In planning a project, the project manager must structure the work into small elements that are:

• Manageable, in that specific authority and responsibility can be assigned

• Independent, or with minimum interfacing with and dependence on other ongoing elements

• Integratable so that the total package can be seen

• Measurable in terms of progress

The first major step in the planning process after project requirements definition is the development of the work breakdown structure (WBS). A WBS is a product-oriented family tree subdivision of the hardware, services, and data required to produce the end product. The WBS is structured in accordance with the way the work will be performed and reflects the way in which project costs and data will be summarized and eventually reported. Preparation of the WBS also considers other areas that require structured data, such as scheduling, configuration management, contract funding, and technical performance parameters. The WBS is the single most important element because it provides a common framework from which:

• The total program can be described as a summation of subdivided elements.

• Planning can be performed.

• Costs and budgets can be established.

• Time, cost, and performance can be tracked.

• Objectives can be linked to company resources in a logical manner.

• Schedules and status-reporting procedures can be established.

• Network construction and control planning can be initiated.

• The responsibility assignments for each element can be established.

The work breakdown structure acts as a vehicle for breaking the work down into smaller elements, thus providing a greater probability that every major and minor activity will be accounted for. Although a variety of work breakdown structures exist, the most common is the six-level indented structure shown below:

Managerial levels

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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