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Work breakdown structure, or WBS is a technique used in Project Management to break down the project with the intent to better recognize and distribute the tasks needed to complete the project. Initially, the WBS technique was developed by the US Defense Establishment in 1957 to develop their Polaris missile program. Even though it had different name, this was the first technique which delivered an accurate organization of the tasks in a product-oriented manner.
The WBS is utilized in the beginning of the project, right before is it launched , to define the costs, estimate costs and for an accurate organization of the Gantt schedules.
Work Breakdown Structure concludes all the elements of a project in an organized way. By breaking down complicated , large and complex projects into small pieces and distribute them to the right persons can provide a better framework for organizing and managing the project per-set.
The biggest role played by WBS is in resource allocation, task assignment, responsibilities, measurement and control project.
By using WBS in project management, even though the project is broken down into pieces, micromanagement can be avoided by not being broken down in too many details. Otherwise too little detail can result in tasks that are too large to manage effectively. WBS can be either included in a Gantt chart as a particular task in a tabular list, or can be also included in a hierarchical tree. More often the work breakdown structure, WBS is listed in a hierarchical tree that captures deliverables and tasks needed to achieve project completion.
Work breakdown structure can be used to break down a project, in different ways, so a project can have more than one WBS. It depends a lot on the type of project, to break it down either by phase, function or discipline.
The WBS, is also used with the purpose of identification of different tasks regarding projects such as the Critical Path Method (CPM), or Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). Both CPM and PERT model the activities and events of a project as a network.
By going through the WBS , the project manager will have an accurate image of whether they are on the right path or not, in the course of the project. They can also determine if they concluded all the necessary tasks of the project and if will be able to close the project in time.
Most important roles of the WBS include also the possibility to enforce dialogue between customer, project manager and the team members in order to clarify ambiguities, narrow the scope of the project and raise critical issues on time, when needed.
WBS also creates accountability and suggests commitment to the project from the team members, through the project manager, who will be always pushing his team’s members to achieve the tasks on time.
The relationship matrix is a tool used to visualize and supervise the two key aspects of a project, that all suppliers should deliver on: Product and Process.
Thanks to this technique, the performance rate can be tracked down in any moment.
The Relationship Matrix, helps to understand and locate the strengths and weaknesses of the project and to develop strategies based on them.
The product defines what the supplier delivers, the final outcome of the project based on the plan.
The process explains how the actual product will be made and delivered to the client.
The Responsibility Matrix (RM), also known as the Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), is used to show the connections between work that needs to be done and project team members. (PMBOK, 3rd edition) This is a highly versatile tool that can be easily modified to suit multiple project needs. RMs can be developed at various levels of detail, from high to low. It can be used during any project phase, including the post-implementation support phase, and is especially useful when activities require coordination between several different groups, agencies, or vendors.
When setting up a responsibility matrix, we have who and what has to do, and the level of participation in the defined task. Usually a table is drawn, with the Activities listed on the rows and resources on the columns. Resources can be represented by persons, groups, vendors etc, depends on the type of the project.
The intersection points are used to describe each resource’s level of participation for the activity. The participation type codes are inserted in the cells. A legend is included to define the codes.
Each activity should belong to one person who is responsible for it, having one resource.
To make sure that the matrix is effective, we must provide accurate information about people’s expectations and responsibilities.
There is a special relationship between WBS and RAM. By merging WBS with OBS , we obtain RAM . The RAM will reflect the bottom level of a Work Breakdown Structure and Organizational Breakdown Structure.
“The integration identifies specific responsibility for specific project tasks. It is at this point that the project manager develops control accounts or work package.” (Tenrox Cloud, Work Breakdown Structure)
Therefore the relation between the WBS and RAM , is imperative in order to maintain a healthy flow of the project development. Even though they are so different processes separately, bringing them together, they create a great tool for recognizing and tracking down certain project tasks.
Of course, the tool must be understood and mastered by the project manager, in order to be able to apply it properly, without damaging the project and the final product by assessing the inadequate tasks to certain people.
Have It Your Way Resource Planning (HIYWRP) is a custom resource planning program for Have It Your Way Company that is developed by Just Right Company. HIYWRP has two major functions, first is to give full control and monitory the inventory as part of inventory management. Second is to support Financial management by a giving detail reporting and forecast and also to do some financial execution such as billing and invoicing.
In order to deliver HIYWRP professionally to Have It Your Way Company, Just Right Company needs to run this project based on this Work Breakdown Structure. This WBS is only describing down to 3rd level, so it will be easily interpreted by anyone who might need it.
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