Types of Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a project management tool that manages to complete a project by dividing complex tasks into individual manageable tasks and completed in a systematic order to achieve the final goal. WBS can be conducted in two ways: process-oriented WBS and deliverable-oriented WBS. 

Types of Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

A deliverable-based WBS focuses on a project's deliverables, or end results, while a phase-based WBS focuses on the different phases or levels of a diagram.

This article takes through the types of WBS and how they are practically used in construction project management.

Deliverables-Oriented WBS for Construction Projects

A deliverable-oriented WBS focus on the final deliverable or outcome of a particular construction project. This particular type of WBS conducts a hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create required deliverables. It organizes and defines the scope of the project and also helps understand how each deliverable is related to one another. Hence, it will have both internal and external deliverables.

As shown in the WBS chart below, deliverables involved in the project are identified and the work packages for each deliverable are enlisted to perform systematically. Each work packages consist of activities that need to perform.


A proper WBS constructed based on deliverables forms a roadmap that guides a team to complete a project that is simple or complex.
Deliverable-Oriented WBS
Image Credits: Taradigm


Process-Oriented Work Breakdown Structure

A process-oriented WBS defines a project in terms of steps, phases or functions. It is also called as phase-based or task-oriented WBS as the major focus is on steps that need to be taken within individual disciplines to complete a project. 

Process-Oreinted WBS
Image Credits: Taradigm


A process-oriented WBS decomposes the work into processes that need to be accomplished in terms of requirements, design, development, and testing. It clearly states what needs to be done and who will do it. 

Some of the projects require the conversion of WBS to a Project schedule. In such cases, deliverable-based WBS structure faces issue with making project schedule as project schedule focuses more on processes or phases. So, it is advised to conduct process-oriented WBS if there is an intention to make a project schedule. 

Process-oreinted WBS makes it easy to assign resources and estimated times at each level of the structure. It is often preferred by clients as it provides clear milestones. 

Conclusion

It is ultimately up to the organization to choose between the type of WBS of a particular project. With the type of project and objectives, the type of WBS selected also varies. For some projects, both process-oriented and deliverable-oriented WBS is used in tandem for obtaining better insights. 

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