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Work Breakdown Structures for Projects, Programs, and Enterprises

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Become an Expert on the Work Breakdown Structure!
The basic concept and use of the work breakdown structure (WBS) are fundamental in project management. In Work Breakdown Structures for Projects, Programs, and Enterprises, author Gregory T. Haugan, originator of the widely accepted 100 percent rule, offers an expanded understanding of the WBS concept, illustrating its principles and applications for planning programs as well as its use as an organizing framework at the enterprise level. Through specific examples, this book will help you understand how the WBS aids in the planning and management of all functional areas of project management.
With this valuable resource you will be able to:
• Tailor WBSs to your organization's unique requirements using provided checklists and principles
• Develop and use several types of WBS
• Use WBS software to gain a competitive edge
• Apply the 100 percent rule when developing a WBS for a project or program
• Establish a WBS for a major construction project using included templates
• Understand portfolio management and establish an enterprise-standard WBS

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18 Chapters

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Chapter 1 Introduction to the Work Breakdown Structure


This chapter provides basic information about the work breakdown structure (WBS), including the background of the concept and its place and role in the project management process. Specifically, the chapter first discusses project management terms and definitions and explains why—on a very basic level—a work breakdown is needed. The chapter next illustrates where the WBS fits in the overall project management process and gives a history of the evolution of the WBS concept. Finally, the chapter briefly describes the role of the WBS in the private and public sectors.

Project management as a field of study has a set of acknowledged terms and definitions. The following segment presents key project management terms used frequently in this book. Although these terms are in common usage in the project management field, they are presented for reference and establish a terminology baseline.


Activity: A defined unit of work performed during the course of a project that is described using a verb. An activity normally has a work description and an expected duration, an expected cost, and expected resource requirements. Activities and tasks are terms that are often used interchangeably.


Chapter 2 Work Breakdown Structure Fundamentals


The work breakdown structure (WBS) represents a logical decomposition of the work to be performed that focuses on how the product, service, or result is naturally subdivided. It is an outline of the specific work to be performed.

Development of a WBS requires knowledge of how the output or deliverable components will be assembled or integrated to form the final product as well as knowledge of the major areas of work. This knowledge is required for every type of project imaginable—reports, airplanes, buildings, electronic systems, computer programs, weddings, conferences, culture changes, or any other output product from a project. It is necessary to know about the work that is to be done or to have access to subject-matter expertise. This is why the project team and other stakeholders need to be involved in the development of the WBS. These fundamentals apply universally and are independent of the customer, industry, country, culture, or geography.

It may seem daunting at first that there is a requirement to be knowledgeable about the output product before you start the project, but your organization would not have the project if it didn’t know something about the product to begin with. For research projects, where the final product may be very unclear or indeterminate, the WBS is structured around the work to be performed—the process, not the product. For other projects—those where the final product is a service that is being performed, such as putting on a conference or wedding—the requirement is that the planner have a good understanding of the major tasks to be performed. If you are in research, you have a work plan and certain steps to be performed; based on intermediate results, the succeeding work plan may change, but the same is true of most projects.


Chapter 3 WBS Software and the WBS in Software


The following two aspects of the WBS and software applications are discussed in this chapter:

Software designed to help the user develop and present the project or program WBS and thereby define the scope

How the WBS is used in software as one of the disciplines used for organizing and communicating data, presenting the scope, and providing the framework for planning and scheduling

This section describes three software products that contain features that help the user in developing a WBS. Only the features of these products judged useful by the author in developing and using the WBS are addressed. These products have other features and capabilities that are outside the scope of this book.

WBS Chart Pro1 is a Microsoft Windows-based project management software application that is used to create and display projects using a WBS chart.

WBS Chart Pro is used to develop a WBS from the top down in the typical organization-chart format. It helps users to think about the structure of the project while they define the various levels of detail. A new project starts with a single top-level element. As other elements are added, they are linked automatically into the selected parent–child or brother–sister relationship.


Chapter 4 WBS Principles, Steps, and Checklist


The WBS principles, steps, and checklist provided in this chapter complete the basic “how-to” section of this book and provide a summary of Part I. The chapter includes three parts that summarize the material presented up to this point in this book: (1) A set of WBS principles; (2) pragmatic steps for the project manager to follow in developing a project WBS, and (3) a recommended checklist for the project manager to use in reviewing the WBS.

Figure 4-1 repeats the generic WBS of Chapter 2 (Figure 2-2), which identifies categories, but expands it to include additional information.

FIGURE 4-1 Generic Work Breakdown Structure Elements

The figure provides an overview of the different types of projects and their typical, next-level types of elements. These are discussed in detail in the following sections.

The following is a set of WBS principles, each of which has been discussed in this part of the book.

A Program WBS will include either (1) an assemblage of projects or (2) life cycle phases at Level 2 and will also include a Program Management element.


Chapter 5 Project Management Methodology and Operations


The purpose of this chapter is to put the use of the WBS into perspective from a methodological viewpoint, including addressing the use of the WBS in each of the nine Project Management Knowledge Areas described in the PMBOK® Guide.1

The WBS is only one tool of many that are used to manage projects, but it may be the most important.

Project management principles have evolved to the point where a fundamental methodology is used by virtually all organizations that follow the PMBOK® Guide. This fundamental methodology applies to all projects and programs.2

The generic or standard methodology used to implement project management relies on the 10 steps shown in Figure 5-1.

FIGURE 5-1 Basic Project Management Process

These 10 steps are subsets of the five phases of a project: A. Initiating, B. Planning, C. Executing, D. Controlling, and E. Closing. Figure 5-2 expands these basic process steps and provides the basis for a comprehensive methodology, which includes the next-level steps within each of the 10 primary steps. The WBS is the key element in the process of defining the work and depends upon knowing the objectives of the project and the nature of the final product or output.


Chapter 6 Life Cycle Planning: Programs and Phases


All projects have phases and a project life cycle. As the projects get larger in terms of resources required and greater duration, these phases become more pronounced. Various industries have special language or jargon to describe the various phases of the larger projects. Large projects often become programs over time, and many projects are thought of or planned as programs from the start. In this chapter, the concept of a Program WBS—as introduced in Chapter 2—is expanded and related to the Project WBS.

Many industries and organizations do their planning in terms of life cycles. This section addresses several life cycles and illustrates their common features and relationship to WBS concepts.

A sample generic life cycle of a project is shown in Figure 6-1.

FIGURE 6-1 Sample Generic Life Cycle

One popular construct for defining the phases in the life cycle is as follows:

Feasibility/Conceptual or Initiation Phase: Conduct feasibility analyses, conduct economic analyses, establish preliminary project objectives, prepare a preliminary WBS, a preliminary SOW, and a project charter.


Chapter 7 Portfolio Management and a Standard WBS


In Chapter 1, the definition of portfolio is stated as: A collection of related projects or programs and other work that groups projects or programs together in order to support effective management of the total work effort in a way that meets strategic business or organizational objectives. Portfolio management or Project Portfolio Management (to differentiate from a portfolio of securities) is, therefore, the process of addressing all the projects in an enterprise as a whole in order to achieve some level of optimization with regard to achieving enterprise goals. This process involves the continuous selection and evaluation of projects to ensure that they are meeting enterprise goals, mission, and vision.

This chapter provides a brief overview of project portfolio management and the role of the WBS in implementing the concept in several different enterprises. It also discusses several standard WBSs that have been developed.

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is a term that was used initially by software companies and consulting firms and now is in broader use to describe various approaches characterized by treating projects as part of an overall project investment portfolio. Use of the term is seen as a shift away from focusing on only one project at a time when making decisions regarding support by the enterprise. Most PPM tools and methods attempt to establish a set of values, techniques, and technologies that enable visibility, standardization, measurement, and process improvement across all projects in the enterprise. PPM tools attempt to enable organizations to manage the continuous flow of projects from concept and selection to completion.


Chapter 8 Government Performance Management and the WBS


The first part of this chapter discusses the history of government involvement and the current trends in performance management. As discussed throughout this book, the U.S. government, especially the Department of Defense (DoD), has played a major role in the development of project management systems over the past 50 years. Over the years, the role of the government has changed as project management principles have been codified and their use and application have become widespread in industry and in governments around the world. The level of sophistication has increased as performance management concepts have been adopted. Life cycle program management has also become the rule, and a life cycle perspective has become necessary in order to select cost-effective systems.

Performance management is defined as those sets of management activities performed to ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner. This book follows the concept of implementing a performance management system by using Earned Value Management, as described in American National Standards Institute, Earned Value Management Systems, ANSI/EIA-748, Electronic Industries Alliance (Arlington, VA, approved May 19, 1998). This is a narrower definition than that used in the general literature.


Chapter 9 The WBS in Construction Management


Analogous to other industries and the government, construction management has its own language and mystique, and has been using WBSs for many years but not in quite the same manner as discussed in this book. The construction industry worldwide has been using construction breakdowns to assist in project cost estimation and to report progress and costs for payment purposes. However, they have not been generally used to define scope or provide a basis for schedule planning. This chapter discusses these construction breakdown systems and their relevance to the WBS and project management, and how to adapt them to the broader project management support roles.

The construction industry has developed its systems and practices in parallel to the DoD-based project management systems discussed up to this point. While the construction industry now plans and implements projects using PMBOK® Guide methodology, classification systems for construction work exist and are widely used for other purposes. This section discusses the major classification systems and their uses.


Chapter 10 WBS Examples and Descriptions


This chapter includes examples of different types of work breakdown structures (WBSs) that are analyzed to illustrate how the principles presented in this book apply universally. They complement the examples covered in earlier chapters and include a brief analysis of key features.

The examples include the following projects:

1. Implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning—Version 1

2. Implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning—Version 2

3. Book-Writing Project

4. Dinner Party Project

5. Museum Project—Project Definition Phase

6. WBS for a Planning Phase

7. WBS for a Major Department of Energy Program

8. Information Technology Program

9. NASA Standard Base Maintenance Service Contract

10. Sewage Treatment Plant

11. The Rural Meat Company, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Implementation—Class Project

12. Roaming to Win Project at National Wireless, Inc.—Class Project

Excluded from this list are WBSs for large DoD projects that fit one of the eight templates included in MIL-HDBK-881A. Figure 8-1 in Chapter 8,however, presents a typical WBS of this category.


Appendix A FAA Standard Work Breakdown Structure


This appendix provides a complete WBS to support the graphic representation in Chapter 7.

The complete WBS dictionary that accompanies the WBS and describes the contents of each WBS element is available at


1.1 Identify Projected Demand for Services

1.2 Identify Technological Opportunities

1.3 Identify Projected Supply of Services

1.4 Mission Needs Analysis and Assessment

1.5 Initial Requirements Definition


2.1 Initial Investment Decision

2.1.1 Planning

2.1.2 Analysis

2.1.3 Documentation

2.2 Final Investment Decision

2.2.1 Planning

2.2.2 Analysis

2.2.3 Documentation

2.3 Rebaseline Decision


3.1 Program Management

3.1.1 Program Planning, Authorization, Management and Control

3.1.2 Contract and Grant Management

3.2 System Engineering

3.2.1 System Engineering Management


Appendix B CSI Division List—1995 Version


This appendix provides a complete breakdown for each of the CSI Divisions to Level 3 to support the discussion of the use of the CSI structure in Chapter 9.1 As discussed in Chapter 9, this structure is not a WBS, but a complete formal checklist of the construction elements within each summary CSI Division. This structure can form the basis for a WBS by selecting the appropriate CSI elements when developing the WBS for a construction project.

The structure of the Division List is presented graphically in Figure B-1. The CSI MasterFormat™ Division List online presents this information as a listing with each lower level accessed by clicking on the Division item, such as “02200 Site Preparation” shown in the figure.2 Five levels of decomposition are presented.

It should be noted that not all elements have Level 4 or 5 breakdowns.

FIGURE B-1 CSI Division Structure

Note that the first Division, identified as “Division 0,” is not actually identified on the webpage as “Division 0;” the first group has no heading, and the activities are not actual construction activities. However, further decompositions of each of these Division 0 items are available when the element is selected.


Appendix C The OmniClass™ Development Committee


The purpose of this appendix is to illustrate the broad participation and input into the various OmniClass™ specification structures.1

The OmniClass™ structure development depends on 100-percent volunteer effort and relies entirely on the input of interested contributors from every corner of the construction and facilities management industries. The intent is the creation of a valuable resource that will make their work, and the work of their colleagues, more organized and better coordinated for many years to come.

Construction Specifications Canada (CSC)

Construction Specifications Institute (CSI)

312—120 Carlton Street

99 Canal Plaza, Suite 300

Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 4K2

Alexandria, Virginia, USA 22314

Tel: (416) 776-2198

Tel: (703) 706-4750



OmniClass™ is an industry-wide endeavor and has been assisted by the member organizations listed below as contributors. However, a small working group of individuals (WG0) was largely responsible for directing the work and preparing the OmniClass™ 1.0 files published in March 2006.


Appendix D OmniClass™ Tables Edition 1.0


This appendix presents a listing of the tables of various structures that are available within OmniClass™ Edition 1.0 in order to provide the reader with a broad selection of hierarchical structures.1 Of these tables, Table 22 is the one of primary interest. It is essentially the same as the MasterFormat™ table of CSI.

Table Number


Table 11 – Construction Entities by Function

Definition: Construction Entities by Function are significant, definable units of the built environment comprised of elements and interrelated spaces and characterized by function.

Examples: Single Family Residences, Mining Facility, Local Transit Bus Station, Interstate Highway, Waste Water Treatment Facility, Freezer Storage Facility, Department Store, Courthouse, Hotels, Convention Center

Discussion: A construction entity is complete and can be viewed separately rather than merely as a constituent part of a larger built unit. An office building is a construction entity, but a conference room within the building is a space. Function is the purpose or use of a construction entity. It is defined by primary occupancy, and not necessarily by all activities that can be accommodated by the construction entity.


Appendix E OmniClass™ 2004 and 1995 Divisions


The purpose of this appendix is to provide both the structures of the 1995 version and the 2004 version for comparison.1 These are from Table 22, which addresses the same type of construction breakdown that includes WBS elements. The data in Table 22 are essentially the same as CSI’s MasterFormat™.

The current 2004 edition OmniClass™ Divisions are the following.

Division 00—Procurement and Contracting Requirements

Division 01—General Requirements

Division 02—Existing Conditions

Division 03—Concrete

Division 04—Masonry

Division 05—Metals

Division 06—Wood, Plastics, and Composites

Division 07—Thermal and Moisture Protection

Division 08—Openings

Division 09—Finishes

Division 10—Specialties

Division 11—Equipment

Division 12—Furnishings

Division 13—Special Construction

Division 14—Conveying Equipment




Appendix F Sample Page OmniClass™ Table 22


The purpose of this appendix is to illustrate the tremendous amount of detail that is available in OmniClass™ Table 22 or in CSI’s Master-Format™ for 2004.1 Figure F-1 is just one small part of the total set.2

FIGURE F–1 Sample Page OmniClass™ Table 22

1. This appendix is derived from material on the OmniClass™ webpage at (ed. 1.0, 2006-03-28 release). Derived with permission. Copyright © 2006 the Secretariat for the OCCS Development Committee. All rights reserved.

2. Ibid.


Appendix G Caltrans WBS


The following is an excerpt from the Caltrans Guide to Project Delivery Workplan Standards that illustrates the work packages at the lowest level of the WBS.1 Note that this is not a complete listing of work packages and WBS codes and should not be used on a specific project. The appendix does illustrate, however, how one organization uses a complete WBS template and detailed definitions to assist in managing its programs.

Work involved in conducting preliminary engineering studies used in the development of a draft Project Report (PR) and a final Environmental Study Request (ESR). Work may include survey work and preliminary field studies directly related to the PR and ESR. Support from Environmental units is also covered.

Note: For projects not requiring a Draft Environmental Document, the final product of this activity is actually the Project Report.

This activity includes review of the information assembled and developed during the PID, as well as a preliminary assessment of what additional information may be required during the project report and environmental document development.


Appendix H The International Infrastructure Project Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)


The purpose of this appendix is to present the concepts put forth for an international standard WBS that have been recommended by Paul Hewitt.1 The principles and recommendations are directly comparable to and compatible with those addressed in this book. Rather than attempt to summarize Hewitt’s approach or to include it in Chapter 9, the main themes of his article are presented with some minor editing.

This standard WBS attempts to format the project into a multilevel WBS suited to estimate, schedule, track cost, and measure performance on international infrastructure projects. The breakdown is also designed to facilitate the data transfer of a standard work breakdown between common estimating, scheduling, and cost control software applications.

The following paragraphs outline the various sub-projects and phases within the Civil Infrastructure WBS.

Traditional WBSs in the past have identified only the Construction Divisions within a project. This proposed work breakdown includes all phases within the life span of the project cycle, including Development, Engineering, Operations, Maintenance, Transfer, and Risk. Figure H-1 presents the top-level WBS.



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