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WBS: why is it important & why it is not important?

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Gilbert Rayco
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Can somebody post their view or opinion based on practice, why is it that WBS is not important or why is it that WBS is important in managing project?

I appreciate all ur input.

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Rafael Davila
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Zoltan Palffy
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creating a wbs forces you to think about how you are going to dissect your project and organize your project into meaningful groups or packages of work. 

It is a way to group your work so that people can understand the where's the what's and the how's you will approcah the work.

for example if you were looking for an activity in the 2rd floor of Building B and the activities were not group by building and floor it would be very hard to find.

Also by using a wbs you can collapse work and summarise work more easily. 

Jim Lombardi
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I love a good WBS! 

  • Outlines the scope of ALL the deliverables
  • Progressive decomposition into manageable chunks
  • Focus is on WHAT (not the who, when, and how)

 

See below link to one of our newsletters.

 

Demystifying the WBS

http://www.icontact-archive.com/oGQrBqYz4Ch7JfnzBmwZrHbPt7T2Umo8?w=3

 

Best,

Jim Lombardi

Method123.com

Jim Lombardi
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I love a good WBS! 

  • Outlines the scope of ALL the deliverables
  • Progressive decomposition into manageable chunks
  • Focus is on WHAT (not the who, when, and how)

 

See below link to one of our newsletters.

 

Demystifying the WBS

http://www.icontact-archive.com/oGQrBqYz4Ch7JfnzBmwZrHbPt7T2Umo8?w=3

 

Best,

Jim Lombardi

Method123.com

Ali Osama
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This free pdf is very useful..download it free

 

https://bibloteka.com/master-work-breakdown-structure-wbs/

Bijaya Bajracharya
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Thank you for suggestion.

I started using activity codes even before WBS functionality was available. And I still use them, precisely for purposes as you mentioned - eg filtering the plastering items etc. And since I started using these things from DOS days, I also make use of the characters in activity ID to represent various things. And as you correctly mentioned, it is also possible to get those functionalities from few characters in the activity description.

In fact, the best way to input your coded information is in the activity id. That way, the information is "in built" and cannot be changed easily.

All these things including searching and filtering (eg for filtering for certain characters in activity id or description) work well when everybody is disciplined in naming and coding. And as long as one person is doing all these things, everything works perfectly well for him (as it does for me and you). But when you are integrating programmes from various contractors, it is not easy to excecise those rules with planners from various firms.

WBS concept is as old as project management but its functionality appeared relatively late. Even in P3 3.1, WBS is still optional function that appears the same way as acivity codes. And some people still don’t use it because 1) it is optional 2) activity codes seem to do the same job and 3) they are more used to activity codes. But even in P3 3.0, WBS code can do things which activity codes can’t.

For example, you can have WBS activity and it does not need any links as in hammock activities. And this WBS activity can summarise all the activities which have the same WBS code. When you need a high level programme that shows bars in the same line as activity description (activity code roll up bar appears one line below), you can just filter for WBS activities and you get very good presentation. And the list goes on.

And when you start using P3e, WBS is no more optional and it appears more different than activity codes and thus makes it more apparent. But activity code has more functionality in new programmes as well as you can have second level of codes within same acitity code. And these lower levels of codes work exactly the same way as WBS does. So you can have work breakdown stucture as well as ANY breakdown structure using a single code.

But as long as you have to use two or more actity codes (as you have to do in P3 3.1 and earlier), to make your work breakdown structure, it is far more easier to do so using the in built WBS coding. (And you can of course, still use activity codes, for other functionalities).
Clive Randall
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Bijaya
I think you need to seriously look at how codes work again
Say for example I want all the activities for plastering
I want this because I want to give it to a subby to price
So what can I do
If I created a programme by cut and past ie I have a number of multi storey buildings and
I create a sample schedule (fragnet) and replicate it over the number of floors and towers then I will have always the same description fore plastering
I can therefore sort as activity description contains plastering and all the activities drop out. Now If I have also coded for floors and towers I can organise so the towers and floors show up so I know where I am.
That means I need to code in a tower and a floor with each activity, thats pretty easy cos I can copy and past this info.
If I am really smart when I copy and past the fragnet I can add some alpha numerics at the end of the ID ie 100 activity number from fragnet then T1 (tower 1) then F1 ie the id is know 100T1F1 this helps in that I can sort all activities in tower 1 or floor 1 or whatever so by using the ID and the description almost without touching the codes we have a pretty robust sorting catergory. In turn when you can sort in this way logic application and resource balancing becomes much easier.
Lets go back to the plastering scenario we now have all the activities, so linking floor to floor or globally copying resources is easy as is levelling them because you can see whats happening and more importantly so can everybody else.
In this way you can tell your subby exactly what he needs.
I am not saying you cant do it with WBS and of course you can what I am saying is for a great deal of what we do in building and Civil Engineering WBS codeing is excessively complicated.
Andrew Dick
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I’m Currently using Hierarchical code structures to help with the application of the cost accounts from our cost tool. I simply apply the codes to the activities and then group and sort with totals and balance my activity budgets.

So you can use code fields to give rudimentry totals for Units.

This process has helped me immensley as when I started with this company 9 weeks ago there wern’t even any baselines in the projects and they were using units % Complete and just adding extra hours to the remainings by multiples of 10 or 50. They even expected to be able to resource level with this data.

DREAMIN’

Andy
Bijaya Bajracharya
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Activity codes look good and seems to show what you want to show only when data is organized in a particular way (eg phase, location, contractor etc). So it is very much a Layout depedent method.

WBS works no matter how you organize your activities. And you can have WBS activity (in P3 for example) which summarises all the activities which have the same WBS code no matter where those activites are located. There is no such functionality available for activity codes.

Furthermore when you organize activities with acitity codes, you will always end up with groups with no names. Planner would understand it but there would be many would be questining it everytime they see it.

So when you want work breakdown that really add up to whole project, use WBS. It is that simple. And use activity codes for other organizing and filtering purpose.
Anoon Iimos
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I suppose WBS & Codes are lying on the same concept, so why bother? you’re not showing codes on your schedule anyway.
Clive Randall
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Andrew
I agree
Dont let anybody walk away with the idea when you have explained something "gee I wonder what he is smoking"
Often in fact more often than I care to remember I dont employ planners because they cant do their job but because they cant explain what their job is.
If when you have explained something the other person wants to leave and you cant believe how stupid he is you are failing. Planning is not from the dark side is it not smart, clever or secret it is a tool
If you get a puncture taking the wheel off is a whole lot easier if somebody hasent hidden the jack
Thats where Im coming from with WBS, if everybody knows about it and its a standard coding great if not keep it simple, its after all hard enough to get people to read a programme dont make it even more difficult
Remember we are planners, that makes us somebody who assists the process not somebody who actually does it, so go and assist the person doing it by understanding what he wants not what you feel you should give him.
Andrew Dick
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The WBS structure is simply an end to a means.

The end is being able to provide BAC, ACWP, ETC, EAC & EV for particular portions of the project.

The WBS is simply the most widley used method of doing this, and as a consequence comes as a standard part (or code) of most planning/scheduling software.

As far as codes go - well the world is your oyster.

As far as how to, and what size, and by what method you chose to quantify and divide your project up, it’s really up to you..... However you should document what each structre is for and what assumptions were made to arrive at the particular structure.

Other names for WBS like codes are,

OBS - Organisational Breakdown Structure
PBS - Product Breakdown Structure
SBS - System Breakdown Structure
CBS - Cost Breakdown Structure, ETC.

Again I will say it’s limitless to how many you can have, but you should document what it is and how you came up with it.

Other Code structures will provide many levels of project deliniation and make it look like you have a multi dimensional schedule.....

BUT

you should always follow the basic principle of K.I.S.S

Keep
It
Simple
Stupid

That way when you’re asked to explain a code field that you thought was a good idea at the time - Your manager doesn’t walk away with the "I don’t know what that guy was on about" thought in their head.
Anoon Iimos
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this is very simple! you use WBS or Codes to make your Project become "Measurable" either in a summarized form or a detailed one. But how do you put a certain unit to a summarized deliverable? Isn’t it Lump Sum (LS)? and how do you define Lump Sum? are you gonna need WBS or Codes?
Clive Randall
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Rodel
While the Explanation is well "dry but clear"
I think all would benefit more if you provided sonme clarity with examples.
I for one still believe Ernesto has the correct approach
I would reiterate that I have seen so many WBS structures that are entirely meaningless unless you have the structure in front of you
Personally I like to see a programme that has a heading and then the activities under that heading (ie we have coded the programme to group the activities and that comes out in the heading be it geographically, by floor by trade by block by relations to Aunty Mary who cares the receiver can read the heading and understand what the guts below relate to
Just a thought
Rodel Marasigan
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Hi all,

As I have mention before WBS development can be viewed as the process of grouping all project elements into several major categories, normally referred to as Level One; each one of these categories will itself contain several subcategories, normally referred to as Level Two. Alternately, and more accurately, developing a WBS involves dividing the deliverable items until the project has been divided into manageable, discrete, and identifiable items requiring simple tasks to complete that, when combined, constitute the project deliverable.

Logically is to keep dividing the project until the elements cannot realistically be divided anymore and may vary from organization to organization or may even vary among project managers within the same organization.

Each level of detail contains not only organization specific, but they also are specific to the nature of the deliverables involved in each project. Similarly, the degree of detail at the lowest level of each branch must be in line with the size of the project and in conformance with the organization’s operational philosophies.

Ideally, there should be some uniformity and consistency in the WBS. To achieve this uniformity, all children of the same parent must be developed based on the same division basis.

Usual practice of WBS are using three division levels which are “Deliverables oriented (Structure or products, functional system, physical area and proof of capability)”, “Schedule oriented (normally referring to a task or activity and sequential/ phases)” and “Resource oriented (disciplines, administrative units and financial accounts)”.

So again, no matters how you do it by codes or groups fields or using the WBS field as long as you define the structure into manageable level and represent the project deliverable that will contribute to success of the project.

Regards,
Rodel
Ernesto Puyana
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Most of my work is in building construction, so maybe the fact that I like codes better is biased by my work.

But if sometimes you need to see activities organized by floor; sometimes by trade; other time by trade within each floor, etc. There’s no way to do that except with codes.

Do other lines of work have the same need or is it enough for you to squeeze into a rigid WBS and limit reports and analisys to that single point of view?
Clive Randall
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hard planning thinkers
maybe
hard thinking planners
or planners thinking hard
or thinking hard planners
or planners hard thinking

use the codes forget the numbers and only add them if you really need to

I dont believe that PMI says that you must use a defined WBS
what I believe it says is that progranmmes should be structured in such a way as to enable sorting in a logical and affective manner thus enabling the team to ascertain an accurate picture of the progress of the works and the elements that make up the works.
Anoon Iimos
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"for hard planning thinkers"?? they don’t know how to use codes?
Charleston-Joseph...
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Hello to all,

I agree with Marasigan.

WBS show the heirarchy of Scope of work and deliverables.

WBS is the standard for PMI, PMP, Planning Professional.

It is very clear in PMI influence or way of project management in general and planning in particular way of managing project.

So for hard planning thinkers, WBS is the preference.

Cheers,

charlie
Clive Randall
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Maybe its just builders who like codes
Ernesto Puyana
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I think the need and importance of structure in a schedule is clear and proven. The point now is how.

I prefer primavera codes over WBS or outlines. Codes are much more flexible and let you organize activities in different ways to analize different aspects of a schedule. WBS an outlines are rigid.

Of course you can use both at the same time, but unless I´m forced by a client, I don´t use a WBS, but codes.
Ronald Romero
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It’s just a simple divide and conquer technique. It a way to go from general to specifics. It’s like writing a book first you have the outline the going to the details and contents.In a way it helps in organizing a project and simplify the job of a planner.

Cheers,

Ronnie
Anoon Iimos
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Breakdown Structure - Work, Cost, Organization..whatever it is..It is important! I think nobody is using a one liner schedule!
Rodel Marasigan
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Hi all,

Just to explain more on WBS. As I have said on the other thread (Work Breakdown Structure is a results-oriented family tree that captures all the work of a project in an organized way. It is often portrayed graphically as a hierarchical tree; however, it can also be a tabular list of "element" categories and tasks or the indented task list that appears in your Gantt chart schedule). Meaning it can be shown on a different approach or style as long as it became meaningful and useful to other member of project management. It defines as a level of schedule to make it more sensible and manageable. It is used to define the project objectives with sufficient detail information into more detail groups of scope or task. Some planner/ scheduler used activity codes as their WBS and others are just the first 1, 2, 3 or 4 character of their activities.

Proper schedules are using this technique according to their own methods so they can level their schedule to more manageable levels.

On my own view “schedule without the proper work breakdown structure is going nowhere or meaningless as its does not show the sensible picture of the project”.

Cheers,
Rodel
Clive Randall
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Ernesto
A man after my own heart for many many projects activity codes work just fine and with a little bit of thought when creating descriptions and IDs sorting can be a breeze
Often I see WBS which is totally and absolutely meaningless
Clive
Ernesto Puyana
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Any serious program must have some kind of organization so it is usable for control.

WBS is one way, but there’s also activity codes.

Rodel Marasigan
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Hi Gilbert,

I have a post on What is Project Scheduling? Your Definition
thread regarding WBS.
James Griffiths
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The more detail that you want to see (monitor), the more important the WBS. A formal and logical structure helps capture the project data (activity type, resourcing, costing, progress etc.) in the most appropriate "pigeon-hole".

James.