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Topics: Construction, Consulting, Scope Management
Whose WBS is it anyway?

Hello everyone!

I have a question that may not have a direct answer but may deserve a discussion.

Let's take an infrastructure construction project with multiple contractors and consultants, structured around the typical concept of OWNER, SUPERVISION CONSULTANT and CONTRACTORS.

The question is whether there should be and is normally just ONE WBS or one for each of the three stakeholders, particularly from the viewpoint of the Supervision Consultant.
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Probably bad question! I'll try reframing.

Actually I am working on a small task for myself and in the process I have reached a major roadblock with respect to the subject of Work Breakdown Structure.

As a contractor, this is easy because the deliverables are linked to the owner’s requirements as spelt out in the contract agreement. The contractor will have to prepare a WBS based around HIS deliverables right down to the smallest work package and then build his work programme. Likewise there would be many other contractors and subcontractors who would have their own set of deliverables as per their respective contract deliverables.

The moment a Supervision Consultant steps in my confusion starts. What I am trying to figure out is whether or not there should be just one standard WBS prepared by the Owner or by his Consultant / Supervision Consultant for the entire project, and then each stakeholder, whether it is the Owner, or the number of Contractors and their subs, should find a place within the one standard WBS and create their own detail as per the deliverables.

I shall appreciate any advice that you may like to give me. I shall await your email.

We are in the Construction Industry. Getting and tracking the WBS for the Project Execution process P6 Schedule is plenty of work for the Controls Manager. Incorporating management processes also seems unrealistic and unattainable.
My only analogy would be the calculations for loading values of a specific Concrete Column does not include the self weight of the Column......

From the trenches-

Thanks Mark for your nice reply. I shall wait for some other posts.

Sumit -

The WBS is a key component of the scope baseline so from that perspective "There can be only one!". However, the level of detail required by the client vs. a contractor will vary. As such, the work packages in the client's WBS which reflect the contracted deliverables might be considered a control account or even a level one node within the contractor's WBS.

Whether the contractor chooses to share the details of their activities with the client goes back to the contract and the working arrangements between the two parties, however, everything detailed by the contractor should trace back to some work packages in the client's WBS.


The point is: why do you need a WBS? Just in the case you said me "I need it no matter why? let me say I was in your situation and I handle them as a program so each WBS is integrating into only one BUT take into account the flow: from the WBS each one must create the other artifacts: activities, schedule, estimations. IMPORTANT. because I have to integrate the WBS into one I REQUEST TO ADHERE TO ONE UNIQUE FORMAT. It does mean to create the WBS "deliverable oriented" or "task oriented" or any format you agree and to agree about: the deep is 5+-2 levels and the last level is the work package.

Why we need the WBS, adding to the above:
I want to make sure that you understand the scope and delivering it on details.
I want to see that you have systematic approach to the project whatever it is small or part of your daily routine.
I will be so worry if my contractor cannot produce proper wbs and 5 +-2 all the way to work package. Personally I do not care how good are you as contractor if you cannot have systematic approach. The systematic approach is not an extra paper work.

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