Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure (Primavera Video Tutorial)

Creating a Work Breakdown Structure is one of the first steps of preparing a project schedule in Oracle Primavera 6. Once the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) of a project is created, activities are detailed under different WBS levels. Basically, the WBS is a hierarchical arrangement of the deliverables required to complete the project. Therefore, it is essential to create it before creating the schedule. Primavera Work Breakdown Structure feature enables to create and organize the hierarchical breakdown of the work packages of a project. This video tutorial reviews the basics of the WBS and demonstrates how to create a work breakdown structure in Primavera P6.

What is a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)?

A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) can be defined as a key project deliverable that breaks down the scope of work into manageable sections.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines the WBS 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, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) defines the hierarchy of the project deliverables. According to the  PMBOK Guide, a deliverable 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 Method (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) in 1957. In the 1960s NASA started to used PERT and WBS techniques for aerospace programs.

The Work Breakdown Structure does not only provide a framework for a project schedule but also helps to manage the project costs by guiding cost estimation. Note that Top-down estimation is used along with the WBS.

Benefits of the WBS

Using the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) provides many benefits in addition to defining and organizing the project scope of work.

The project budget can be divided into sections by using the various WBS levels and tracked. Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS) can be created by integrating the WBS. In the same way, integrating the work breakdown structure with an Organizational Breakdown Structure (OBS) provides a guideline for the communication system of an organization.

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Sample

Before creating a WBS in Primavera P6 let’s take a glance at the work breakdown structure example below. (Figure 1)

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure

As shown in Figure 1, a sample 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 highest level represents the final deliverable or project. The sub-levels represent the work packages. Activities will be grouped under these sub WBS levels.

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) of the sample project can be demonstrated in the table view below. The purpose of the numbering is to emphasize the hierarchical structure of each work element. For example, the Pipeline Project is Level 1 and the Procurement is Level 2 under the Pipeline Project.

p6 WBS Table

WBS Table

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure Creation

Now we will create a WBS in Primavera P6 by using the sample shown above. First, we will create a new project. Then, click on the Project | WBS from the main drop-down menu at the top of the screen. This will display the WBS view in the below figure. (Figure 2)

Primavera P6 Work Breakdown Structure

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 Video Tutorial

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.

Oracle Primavera P6 Video Tutorial

By clicking the “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 Example Video Tutorial


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 you list the deliverables and create the WBS, it is an easy process to define the WBS in Primavera P6.

A project’s total budgeted cost can be assigned to the highest levels of the WBS, 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 to the cost performance.

In this video tutorial, we demonstrated how to create a simple WBS by using Oracle Primavera P6. If you want to add or share anything related to the topic, you can use the comments section.

See Also

Primavera Project Management

Resource Leveling

1 Comment
  1. Faisal 3 weeks ago

    Can you give me the XER file of this project.

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