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WBS vs Activity Codes

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Joshi Niraj
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a) why the planner prefer WBS instead of categorizing the project in activities codes under head of area , responsibility , item etc.

Is it compulsory that we always use WBS instead of using project codes.


b) What does the structure means as 2,2 in wbs?
Level 1 2 3 4
structure 2 2 2 2

Replies

Alex Wong
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Dear All

IMHO, both WBS and Activity Codes helps development of the schedule. Especially with WBS, it force the planner thinking how should I divid the whole project into workable work package "Work Breakdown". However, as a lot of you mentioned WBS is a rigid structure. It is very difficult change once you had established the WBS and coded the activities. On the other hand Activity codes can be group and sort in any order.

Put it that way, you will need a standard report for running the project and at the same time you need special report to analysis and help you manage your project from time to time. WBS will help you produce standard report and activity code will help you produce special tailor made report.

In addition, WBS had a special function for the client point of view. Because the client can specify the high level of the WBS to combine all contractors works together in a organised ways. Yes you can argue that activity code can do the same but in a WBS summary level it can have a standard report generated very quickly.

A good project should have both structure to help day to day running as well as special requirement.

Cheers

Alex
ALALASUNDARAM RAV...
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Hi
I would like to know why WBS is popular (atleast have a code of practice, PMI) than Activity codes. Also can’t we use Activity codes in place of WBS?
ALALASUNDARAM RAV...
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Hi
I must thank you all for having such a fruitful discussion.
Andrew Ng
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Come On Be Nice and Courteous to the Different Style of presentation Chosen by Some Writer.

You dont have to follow them if u dislike it but please respect other’s entitlement and rights to chose something different from yours.
Joshi Niraj
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PJ

Why do you repeat the things which already said in this head in detail.

That does not show your expertise to give the answer by "cut" and "paste" the other opinions in this forum.

Philip Jonker
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Hi Guys,

The point is that if you structure your projects carefully, ie think them out, the activivity code structure, can be used to create your activity ID’s, WBS, CBS, etc. It is all about structuring your schedule, prior to starting to schedule, that is, coding everything correctly.

Remember the code lengths etc is important, but sit down and think, before you start, the basics.

Regards

Philip
Stephen Devaux
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Eric, completely agree with:

"I realized that people often use WBS to help them to set up the schedule activities for a large project. However, the purpose and benefit of WBS is way beyond that."

That said, I often find that people often fail to understand that the activities in the detailed schedule are simply a further decomposition of the WBS. Cost information can generally be summed up and captured at a higher level than schedule or resource data. (A dollar is a dollar, whether spent on a Nobel physicist or a manual labourer; but the difference between those resources is crucial for scheduling).

I too have never heard of a Cost Breakdown Structure. But I do think that a VBS, or Value Breakdown Structure, is an important element of project planning.

And as for books, my main source is usually Total Project Control: A Manager’s Guide to Integrated Project Planning, Measuring and Tracking. :-)
Eric Chou
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Hi Stephen and Jaco,

Sorry. I get you guys so excited. However, I think you misunderstood my points.

WBS is the major element of Cost/Schedule integration control. However, WBS is under use if it is just used for schedule control alone.

Here is the quote from the reputable book from James M Neil, Construction Cost Estimating for Project Control.

“A work package is a well-defined scope of work that usually terminate in a deliverable product. Each package may vary in size, but it must be a measurable and controllable unit of work to be performed. It also must be identifiable in a numerical accounting system in order to permit capture of both budgeted and actual performance information. A work package is a cost center.”

I realized that people often use WBS to help them to set up the schedule activities for a large project. However, the purpose and benefit of WBS is way beyond that. To make this argument more constructive, please refer to the following books other than the one mentioned above:

1.     Project Management with CPM, PERT and Precedence Diagramming by Joseph J. Moder, etc.
2.     Professional Construction Management by Donald S Barrie and Boyd C. Paulson
3.     AACE International Certification Study Guide

I search several reputable books for project control and cost engineering. I have never heard about “CBS” – Cost Breakdown Structure. Do you mean OBS (Organizational Breakdown Structure)? WBS is used in connection with OBS, not CBS. I think you use CBS in a loose way.


Eric Chou, PE
HTC Project Controls, Inc.
www.HTCProjectControls.com
Stephen Devaux
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"In summary, WBS is used for cost control purpose to comply with USA Department of Defense C/SCSC (Cost/Schedule Control System Criteria) provision."

Eric, I’m sorry, but I have to disagree here.

First, DoD C/SCSC (part of Mil. Spec. 881) has basically been so altered as to have been "repealed". The old requirements (on programs over $50 mil and subprograms above $25 mil) of CWBS and PWBS, etc. was changed in the early ’90s, in part so that software packages other than the mainframe numbercrunchers Artemis 9000 and Project/2 could be used.

Second, although WBS did grow from DoD C/SCSC requirements, the term has lost its original connection and become generic, just as earned value management and terms have.

"Indeed, WBS is less flexible if you just use it for sorting and grouping. Most people don’t even need to use this feature."

The WBS is a project management tool, to be used to manage project scope, as well as scope/cost/schedule integration in the best possible manner. The fact that a customer (DoD?) requires a WBS in a certain format does not mean that it is (1) the BEST format for the contractor, nor (2) that it has to be the ONLY WBS a contractor should use. The old Project/2 allowed up to four WBS’s, with eight separate code fields for each, for each project!

At the lowest level, the work is the work is the work, so that all WBS’s are the same at the lowest level. But how they are grouped and how they "sum" up the hierarchies should be based on what are most useful for given circumstances.

"However, WBS is there for a purpose."

Absolutely! And any project above a minimal and simple level should have its project scope formatted into at least one WBS. As a consultant, I have played "project doctor" on many projects that have become total disasters; but I’ve never seen a total disaster that had a good WBS!
Jaco Stadler
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HI Eric

THE WBS is the Work Breakdown Structure.
THE CBS is the Cost Breakdown structure.

SO WBS is not their for Cost Control.

We Normally when we do the Estimate (Baseline Schedule) Uses the WBS. And then as te project Progresses and the scope is defined move over to a Coding Structure. This gives you the "power" to Report back to original.

THE WBS is most used if you dont have Items on the same Levels rather than having unassigned or the same code you would Have Items under the correct WBS.
Example your Engineering normally just go to a Lvl 2 and Construction to a LVL 3.

Cheers

Eric Chou
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Dear all,

In summary, WBS is used for cost control purpose to comply with USA Department of Defense C/SCSC (Cost/Schedule Control System Criteria) provision. The WBS structure is hierarchical and can’t be flipped around as the activity codes. Indeed, WBS is less flexible if you just use it for sorting and grouping. Most people don’t even need to use this feature. However, WBS is there for a purpose.

Attached is the write-up by me regarding WBS vs. Activity Code. Please review for your reference. Go to the http://www.htcprojectcontrols.com/TTB2003-9.pdf

Eric Chou, PE
HTC Project Controls, Inc.
www.HTCProjectControls.com
Philip Jonker
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Hi Joshi,

WBS is a rigid coding structure, whereas if you you use activity codes, you allow yourself to do the same thing with a great amount of flexibility. In othe words, if you commit to a WBS your are stuck with the order you can present things, whereas with a good activity coding structure, you can organise things in any way you want them, and add any other options you would like, if you restrictict the lengths of your codes, therefore, it is important to structure things before you start planning.

The point is is activity codes can do the same as WBS, and plenty more if you use them correctly.

Regards’

Philip
Anand Kulkarni
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Hi Niraj,

I didn’t know the forum has legacy of since also.

Otherwise also I was not to reply but....

your sweet language made me.

I am wondering how many times in 3 days I had imposed my opinion on others.


keep it up Niraj
Joshi Niraj
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Anand

Not try to become over smart if u come to this forum from last three days - be cool.

Sukumaran rightly objects your answer that think before write. Your attitude is very aggressive in this forum. This is one example. You always try to impose your opinion on others - Try to obsorb other’s opinion also.

If you have some knowledge about P3, share with cool minded not come over the things.

I think in future u will take care the things.

Also every man has different opinion on one issue not it is compulsory that each person may only accept your opinion and say well done AK.

Anand Kulkarni
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Hi Sukumaran,

I never thought that I’m objecting on your opinion.

Still sorry, if I had done so.

cheers

Anand
Sukumaran Subaram...
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Hi Anand,

a) The forum title is on WBS vs. Activity Codes.

b) The 1st question is "Why the planner prefer WBS instead of categorizing the project in activities codes..........".

No harm giving some opinion on using of WBS and Activity Codes and diffences among them because some planner prefer to use WBS and other prefer for Activity Codes.

Regards.
Anand Kulkarni
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I thought the question was on need of WBS coding and not on uses of activity coding?
Sukumaran Subaram...
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WBS is the hierarchy of work that must accomplish to complete a project. It is structured in levels of work detail, begining with the product and then divided into identifiable work elements.

Activity Codes is used to define codes that uniquely identify each activity in a project and group activities in similar categories. Activities are classified into specific groups such as responsibility, phase, system or location.

WBS and Activity Codes are serving the same purpose. But when use filter, Activity Codes provide more flexibility compare to WBS. Activities can be filtered based on the specific group i.e. phase, location, etc. This function is limited for WBS although we can use wildcard (?) to select data values with some common characters.

Regards.
Anand Kulkarni
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Hi,

Yes agrees to views very much.

When ever activity code is being written, some were we had dotted down the WBS because without this coding can’t be done.

It is not compulsory at all.

But does help is organizing & for future references, since what we had prepared in back of mind or some where will be lost, in future in-case of any issues.



Bill Guthrie
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What I normally like to do is assign a wbs that is a mirror of activity coding. For example Level 1 activity code has the same value as the first 2 digits of my WBS. level 2 Activity Code same as second digits on WBS, This is a good check method,especially when you are working 10,000 plus activities., errors pop up fast.

And then use WBS for core structure for Cost Programs, Document Controls and Drawings Controls. This intergrates a Schedule, Cost, and Documents within a project.

regards bill
Raj Maurya
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WBS is not a matter of preference, it is something to proceed in most logical way and that gives an idea that everything has covered in the plan. Activity codes can be utilise to present the schedule in very different form and look.I don’t think WBS is compulsary for simple case but if you are planning bit complex project you should use WBS.

Structure in P3 indicates no of digit for identification of that level.