W5_AFS_ Managing Small Project: Work Breakdown Structure

Problem Recognition, Definition, and Evaluation

The new project has been established with name Water Pre Treatment Package Project. The Project objectives are:

  1. To ensure there is no solid particles carry over from water well to WTP
  2. To increase potable water production capacity
  3. To reduce time for backwash activity
  4. To Prevent RO membranes damage due to contamination in its feed water

During FEL development, Operation people defined that to achieve all of project objective above, we shall install pre-treatment unit at Upstream of WTP. Starting this week, we will follow step by step on project management to perform this project. This week blog, we will define work breakdown structure that fit to this project.

Development of The Feasible Alternatives

The work breakdown structure (WBS) is the tool in Earn Value Management that organizes and define the work scope. The WBS is typically displayed as a tree diagram, similar to a family tree. Each level of the WBS can have many elements; However, elements must sum to only one higher level element.

Development of The Outcomes For Each Alternative

The number of WBS levels depends on project complexity. A small project could have as few as 2 levels and a complex small project could have as many as 6 levels.

  • Level 0    – This is the entire project or the total scope of work
  • Level 1    – This represents the first level of decomposition
  • Level 2    – This level decomposes each major area from level 1 into its constituent parts. Also, this level would start to target specific, tangible deliverables of the project
  • Level 3, 4, and 5 – Further levels are developed as appropriate with the lowest level of detail being crew tasks

One of the common misapplications of a WBS is to use it to reflect the organization assigned to accomplish the work rather than the work itself. The WBS is not an organization chart of the project team. The project team is represented within an Organizational Breakdown Structure (OBS) or organization chart.

Selection of Criteria

The WBS includes the following characteristic:

  1. Is Product-oriented
  2. Includes all work
  3. Support historical cost collection for future cost estimating purposes

Analysis and Comparison of The Alternatives

The Following will be useful in WBS development:

  1. The WBS should represent the complete list of deliverables for the project
  2. Deliverables should be decomposed to the level of detail needed to estimate the effort required to obtain them
  3. Ensure That each WBS element has a single point of accountability
  4. All significant reporting events (such as review meetings and monthly status report) should be included in the WBS
  5. WBS development is critical to scope management. Revisit the WBS often and expect to iterate its development
  6. Keep a list of activities that are out of scope. Confirm scope with stakeholders often by reviewing the WBS and the list.
  7. All Projects require a project management WBS element to ensure that the work of planning, tracking, and reporting is managed

Selection of The Preferred Alternatives

Fig 1 High Level WBS

Fig 2 Engineering WBS

Fig 3 Procurement WBS

Fig 4 Construction WBS

Fig 5 Commissioning WBS

Performance Monitoring and Post-Evaluation of Results

Work Breakdown Structure provides a clear “vision” of the project work. WBS development facilitates other project activities such as estimating, scheduling, resource allocation, risk analysis, and control. A poorly defined WBS can result in incomplete project definition, unclear work assignment, budget overrun, frequently changing scope, timeline slippage, and other adverse project outcomes.


Ali, Naseer. (2013), Fundamental of Small Project Management Course.

Giammalvo, PD. (2013). AACE Certification Preparation Course. Retrieved from http://www.build-project-management-competency.com/

Humphreys, Gary C. (2002), Project Management Using Earned Value. 2nd ed., USA: Humphreys & Associates, Inc.

Sullivan, WG., Wicks, EM., Koelling, CP. (2012). Engineering Economy Fifteenth Edition.

Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/


Filed under A Fahmi S, Week 05

5 responses to “W5_AFS_ Managing Small Project: Work Breakdown Structure

  1. GREAT case study but I am curious why did you create a home grown WBS? Why not use a STANDARDIZED WBS coming from Omniclass? http://www.omniclass.org/ (Table 21 or Table 22?)

    What we are trying to DISCOURAGE is people doing just what you did. By creating your own “homegrown” WBS package, you will not be able to benchmark your cost data and you won’t be able to take advantage of Building Information Modeling. (BIM) http://www.bimjournal.com/2009/02/bim-explained/ or http://www.graphisoft.com/archicad/open_bim/about_bim/ . Worse yet, by not using a standardized WBS as your CHECKLIST, you stand a high probability (risk) of missing an important scope element.

    Bottom line- GREAT case study and you followed our step by step process very well but I’d really like to see you demonstrating BEST PRACTICES and not “bad practices which have caused problems in the past”..

    What I suggest you do is take the same case study (which is EXCELLENT and for your W6 posting, modify it using the Omniclass Tables. Then compare to see which method- your home grown version or Omniclass provided you with “better” or “more complete” scope definition. Just a suggestion when you do download the Omniclass Tables select the Excel version as it makes it a lot easier to work with than with the .pdf version.

    Good luck and looking forward to your W6 blog….

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

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