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Topics: Construction, Healthcare
Work Breakdown Structure

It's me again my friends...How many project managers actually use a work breakdown structure (WBS)? I have been a project manager on very large healthcare construction projects and have never seen another project manager use it.
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That's an interesting question I've also asked myself.

I have worked with hundreds of construction project managers during my 35 year career and can't remember any one of them using a WBS.

What is the objective of your question? As any other type of tool each project manager has to use what best fits inside the process definition to achieve the initiative goals. Perhaps you will get lot of answers like "yes, I use it" while others on the contrary.

I believe that there is a difference on how a project manager manages the design and construction of a building vs IT information technology. Possibly, WBS might be used more in IT than in construction. I don't know much about IT, but I don't see many project managers of buildings using a WBS.

I understood your question was not related,to that domain only.

I think you could step back a bit and consider residential construction (I'm not familiar with commercial). Break the project down into site prep, foundation, framing, roofing, windows/doors, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc. Each of these can then break down in work packages that include such mundane items as number of windows, sizes, by room, number of receptacles/light fixtures, by room, etc. This data then drives the budget estimates for each trade, which then builds up to an initial cost estimate before contingency funding and risk management. Just my opinion, but its how I've experienced WBS in construction.

That is a good example of a WBS, but how many construction project managers really use it; or even know how to use it?

I think many of us build an implicit WBS in our project schedule.

Usually, a schedule is created from the information contained in the WBS, but as I understand, every project manager has his/her own style and if it works, don't break it.
1 reply by Stéphane Parent
Oct 04, 2017 9:07 AM
Stéphane Parent
I think we need to be careful about the 'if it works, don't fix it" mindset. We live in a world where change is accelerating. What works one day, may not work the next.

Next to the WBS I automatically generate via MS projects we also use PBS. P stands for Product. Occasionally we use an RBS. (R = Risk).
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