Application of Work Breakdown Structure

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Work is effort performed by people to transform or create products, to solve identified problems or to satisfy specific needs. Just as the Implementing Agency hierarchically structures the people who perform work, so the work breakdown structure hierarchically structures the products/ deliverables to be produced.

In order to use the work breakdown structure as a framework for structuring the technical objectives of a project –in addition to its use as a management tool for cost and schedule control- it is important that the work breakdown structure be product–oriented. Its elements should represent identifiable work products whether they are goods, equipment, software, data, infrastructure elements or service products.

Work Breakdown Structure3 [ The WBS was initially developed by the United States defense establishment, and is described in Military Standard 881B as follows: “A work breakdown structure is a product oriented family tree composed of hardware, software, services, data and facilities…….[it} displays and defines the product(s) to be developed and /or produced and relates the elements of work to be accomplished to each other and to the end product(s). ] is a deliverableoriented grouping of project components that organizes and defines the total scope of the project. It is based on the principle of subdividing the major project deliverables or subdeliverables into smaller, more manageable components until the deliverables are defined in sufficient detail to support development of project activities (planning, executing, controlling and closing). In order to proceed with this analysis, you should follow the steps presented below4 [ PMBOK Guide 2000 Edition . ]:

1.Identify the major deliverables of the project, including project management. The major deliverables should always be defined in terms of how the project will actually be organized.
2.Decide if adequate cost and duration estimates can be developed at this level of detail for each deliverable. In case that for some deliverables you estimate that there is not adequate detail, you should proceed with  further analysis (step 3). For the deliverables that you estimate that no further analysis is needed, just try to verify the correctness of the analysis (step 4).
3.Identify constituent components of the deliverables. Constituent components should be described in terms of tangible, verifiable results to facilitate performance measurement. As with the major components, the constituent components should be defined in terms of how the work of the project will actually be organized and accomplished. Repeat step 2 on each constituent component and check whether further analysis is needed.
4.Verify the correctness of analysis.
Are the lower level items both necessary and sufficient for the completion of the  analysed item? If not, the constituent components must be modified.
Is each item clearly defined? If not the descriptions should be revised.
Can each item be appropriately scheduled and budgeted? If not, modifications are necessary to provide adequate management control.

The Project Work Breakdown Structure usually contains at least three levels of analysis. In case of large projects the levels of analysis could be more.

A WBS is normally presented in chart form as illustrated in the following examples. The first example refers to the Public Procurement Directorate’s project aiming to improve the implementing capacity of the Cypriot Authorities in applying the new European Legislative Package. The second example refers to a public work project, dealing with the construction of a wastewater treatment plan and the third one to a project dealing with the development of software which will automate the process execution of a certain Implementing Agency.


Example 7-1: WBS of the Project “Improving the Implementing Capacity of the Cypriot Authorities”

Project: “Measures to develop the implementing capacity of the Cypriot Authorities in applying the European Public Procurement legislative package”.

The Project, as it has been presented in Chapter 1 (subchapter, consists of three Components:

Component 1: Improving the implementing capacity of the Cypriot Authorities

Component 2: Harmonization of legislation

Component 3: e-procurement study.

For the purposes of this Chapter of the Guide we will assume that each of the above mentioned Components is a Project itself, which will be contracted out separately from the others.

In order to prepare the Work Breakdown Structure of the 1st Project “Improving the implementing capacity of the Cypriot Authorities”:

You have to identify the major deliverables of the project (project management has to be included as one of them)

The major Deliverables are:

oProject Management
oThe Action Plan for the PPD in order to be ready to undertake its new role
oThe Public Procurement Best Practice Guide
You have to decide if adequate cost and duration estimates can be developed at this level of detail for each deliverable.

For all the deliverables there is not adequate detail, so decomposition is needed.

Identify constituent components of the deliverables
oFor Project Management:
Inception Report
Progress Reports
Final Report
Evaluation Report
oFor the Action Plan:
Proposal for PPDs new role and responsibilities
Analysis of individual actions to be taken
PPDs internal procedures manual
oFor the Public Procurement Best Practice Guide:
Chapter 1 of the Guide dealing with Project and Procurement Initiation
Chapter 2 of the Guide dealing with Procurement Strategy
Chapter 3 of the Guide dealing with the Preparation of Tender Documents
Chapter 4 of the Guide dealing with the Evaluation of the bids and award of tenders
Chapter 5 of the Guide dealing with the Negotiated Procedure
Chapter 6 of the Guide dealing with the Implementation of the contract and contract management
Chapter 7 of the Guide dealing with Project Management tools and techniques
Web based solution for the Guide
Code of Ethics in Public Procurement
o For the Training:
Training Strategy
Training Programme
Training Material
Training courses/ seminars
Repeat the previous step on each constituent component and check whether further analysis is needed.

Further Analysis is needed only in case of the Training Courses/ seminars, since there are three discrete groups of trainees (with different number of participants each) and PPD wants to monitor the cost of training for each group. The new decomposition leads to:

Training courses for future trainers
Training courses for main purchasers
Training courses for other staff involved in public procurement.


Consequently the WBS of Project 1 should be as follows:




Example 7-2: Sample Work Breakdown Structure for the construction of a wastewater plant

Project:  Construction of a Wastewater Treatment Plant



Example 7-3: Sample Work Breakdown Structure of an IT project

Project:  Development of a software to be used for the automation of an Implementing Agencys processes



As it is shown in the above presented examples, WBS elements are usually numbered. The box in the first level should always have the number 0. The boxes at the first level could be numbered 1, 2, 3 …… Number 2.1 refers to the first box in level 2. Similarly as you go down to lower levels the numbers could be 3.1.1, 3.1.2…….., 3.2.1, 3.2.2…….etc.




© 2007 Republic of Cyprus, Treasury of the Republic, Public Procurement Directorate
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