Primavera Work Breakdown Structure (Primavera Tutorial)

Creating a Work Breakdown Structure is one of the first steps in preparing a workschedule in Primavera 6. When the Work Breakdown Structure(WBS) is created, activities are detailed under different WBS levels. Work Breakdown Structure is a hierarchical arrangement of the deliverables required to complete the project. Primavera Work Breakdown Structure feature enables to create and organize the hierarchical breakdown of the work packages of a project. This article reviews the basics of the WBS, and demonstrates how to create a simple WBS by using Primavera P6.

What is a Work Breakdown Structure ?



A work breakdown structure is a key project deliverable that organizes the scope of work into manageable sections. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines the work breakdown structure as “A hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work to be carried out by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables.”
In brief, WBS defines the hierarchy of deliverables. According to PMBOK a deliveable is “any unique and verifiable product, result, or capability to perform a service that is required to be produced to complete a process, phase, or project”.

The work breakdown structure concept was developed by the United States Department of Defense during the Polaris Missile Program development with the PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) in 1957. In the 1960’s NASA started to used PERT and WBS techniques for the aerospace programs.

Benefits of the Work Breakdown Structure



Using the WBS provides many benefits in addition to defining and organizing the project scope of work. Project budget can be divided into sections by using the WBS levels and tracked. Cost Breakdown Structure can be created by integrating the WBS. In the same way, integrating the work breakdown structure with an organizational breakdown structure provides a guideline for the communication system of an organization.

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Sample

Before to create a WBS in P6 let’s take a look the below sample.

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Figure 1
Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Figure 1

As shown in the figure, the Pipeline Project is broken down into smaller components. In this sample, the project only goes down to level three. Level 1 is shown in Brown color, Level 2 is Yellow and Level 3 is shown in Blue. The top level represents the final deliverable or project. The sub levels represents the work packages. Activities will be grouped under these sub WBS levels.



The Work Breakdown Structure of the sample project can be demonstrated in the table view below. The purpose for the numbering is to emphasize the hierarchical structure of the each work element. For example, Procurement (in the example below) identifies this item as a Level 3 WBS element.

WBS Table
WBS Table

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Creation

Now we will create a WBS in P6 by using the sample WBS above. First we will create a new project. Then, select Project | WBS from the main drop down menu at the top of the screen. This will display the WBS view in below figure.

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Figure 2-min
Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Figure 2

Now we will insert the WBS names and WBS codes of each WBS level shown in the sample.

Select Edit | + Add from the main drop down menu at the top of the screen. This will create a child of the Pipeline Project (Level 1). Then select Edit | + Add again, which will create a child of the Engineering element. Type the WBS LEVEL and WBS NAME of each element.

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Figure 3
Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Figure 3

Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Commissioning are on the same level. Select Edit | + Add again, which will create a child of the Design element. In order to change the level of the created element, push the “Move Left Button” which is over the Command Bar on the right.

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Figure 4
Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Figure 4

By clicking “Move Left Button” all the WBS levels can be placed on their required position.
By Selecting View | Show on Top | Chart View from the main drop down menu at the top of the screen, you can see the Chart View of the WBS.

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Figure 5
Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Figure 5

Summary



The Work Breakdown Structure creates a guideline for defining and organizing the project scope of work. Activities are defined under specific WBS levels. If your project’s WBS is created well, you can easily manage and track your activities. Once the WBS is of your project is created, it is an easy process to input the WBS into a Primavera P6 project.

A project total budgeted cost can be assigned to the top levels of the work breakdown structure, and budgets of the sub levels can be distributed. Therefore,  WBS can be used for top down estimating. As the project progressed, sub levels of the work breakdown structure can easily be tracked to calculate the  project cost performance and detect the issues and problems related with the cost performance.

See Also

Primavera P6 Bar Labels Explained

Primavera P6 Critical Path Calculations

Primavera P6 Resource Curves Explained

Primavera P6 Relationships Explained

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure

Assigning Expenses in Primavera P6

Primavera P6 Adding Activities and Activity Types

Creating Four Week Look Ahead Schedule in P6

Primavera P6 Activity Codes: Creating and Assigning

Primavera P6 Resources: Creating and Assigning

Creating and Assigning Primavera P6 Calendars

Primavera P6 Hot Key Commands

Top Down Estimating in Primavera P6

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