An Introduction to Project Planning: Work Breakdown Structuring

An Introduction to Project Planning: Work Breakdown Structuring

Construction project planning is a method of determining “What” is going to be done, “How” things are going to be done, “Who” will be doing activities and “How much” activities will cost. In this sense planning does not cover scheduling, which addresses the “When”, but once planning is complete scheduling can be done.

Work Breakdown Structure:

When projects are simple, consisting of a few defined activities, it might be possible for a single person to grasp the total construction effort with little difficulty. 

Unfortunately, most projects for which formal plans are prepared to tend to be defined with dozens or even hundreds or thousands of activities: the larger the project, the greater the number of activities and higher the level of detail managers have to handle.

When a project plan consists of numerous activities, it is often advisable to organize the activities in some way to allow communication of plan information to others and to maintain an understanding of the various aspects of the project. While there are many ways that a plan can be organized, one common practice is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

The WBS is a convenient method for decomposing the project complexity in a rational manner into work packages and elementary activities. Some firms prefer to use a standard means of identifying work packages common to all similar projects. These work packages are then coded so that both costs and the schedule can be controlled. A common numerical accounting system is then applied to the activities so that the coding indicates factors such as the type of material involved or the physical location within the project.

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