Work Breakdown Structure Standards

There are standards that describe the WBS. t6] Perhaps the most well known is the Department of Defense handbook, "MIL-HDBK-881." t8l As defined therein (with emphasis from the original), the WBS is:

■ "A product-oriented family tree composed of hardware, software, services, data, and facilities. The family tree results from...efforts during the acquisition of a...materiel item.

■ A WBS displays and defines the product, or products, to be developed and/or produced. It relates the elements of work to be accomplished to each other and to the end product.

■ A WBS can be expressed down to any level of interest. However (if)...items identified are high cost or high risk...(then) it important to take the work breakdown structure to a lower level of definition."

As a standard, MIL-HDBK-881 makes definitive statements about certain "do's and don'ts" that make the WBS more useful to managers. Table 3-2 summarizes the advice from MIL-HDBK-881.

Table 3-2: WBS Do's and Don'ts Scope Organization

Do not include elements that are not products. A signal processor, for example, is clearly a product, as are mock-ups and Computer Software Configuration Items (CSCIs). On the other hand, things like design engineering, requirements analysis, test engineering, aluminum stock, and direct costs are not products. Design engineering, test engineering, and requirements analysis are all engineering functional efforts; aluminum is a material resource; and direct cost is an accounting classification. Thus, none of these elements are appropriate WBS elements._

Program phases (e.g., design, development, production, and types of funds, or research, development, test, and evaluation) are inappropriate as elements in a | WBS._'_

Rework, retesting, and refurbishing are not separate elements in a WBS. They should be treated as part of the appropriate WBS element affected._

Nonrecurring and recurring classifications are not WBS elements. The reporting requirements of the CCDR will segregate each element into its recurring and nonrecurring parts._

Cost-saving efforts such as total quality management initiatives, should-cost estimates, and warranty are not part of the WBS. These efforts should be included in the cost of the item they affect, not captured separately._

Do not use the structure of the program office or the contractor's organization as the basis of a WBS._

Do not treat costs for meetings, travel, computer support, etc. as separate WBS elements. They are to be included with the WBS elements with which they are associated._

Use actual system names and nomenclature. Generic terms are inappropriate in a WBS. The WBS elements should clearly indicate the character of the product to avoid semantic confusion. For example, if the Level 1 system is Fire Control, then the Level 2 item (prime mission product) is Fire Control Radar._

Treat tooling as a functional cost, not a WBS element. Tooling (e.g., special test equipment and factory support equipment like assembly tools, dies, jigs, fixtures, master forms, and handling equipment) should be included in the cost of the equipment being produced. If the tooling cannot be assigned to an identified subsystem or component, it should be included in the cost of integration, assembly, test, and checkout._

Include software costs in the cost of the equipment. For example, when a software development facility is created to support the development of software, the effort associated with this element is considered part of the CSCI it supports or, if more than one CSCI is involved, the software effort should be included under integration, assembly, test, and checkout. Software developed to reside on specific equipment must be identified as a subset of that equipment._

Do's and don'ts are excerpted from MIL-HDBK-881._

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