The common thread in every project management system is a clear and consistent understanding of the work being done, so we can then ask other questions such as "when?", "how much?", and "how's it going?".
Scope Management starts with the decomposition of the project into phases and units of scope that you can more easily manage. The most important thing to remember is that scope is all about what work is being done - not how, when, or by whom. It is independent of time.
Work Breakdown Structure
A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is probably the most important tool in project controls, but it is also frequently misunderstood. Some teams consider a WBS as a tool to manage cost, or align with the project organization structure. Many teams try to use the WBS as a cost categorization tool, and try to standardize the WBS across multiple projects, even if they don't have much in common.
An effective WBS is a meaningful decomposition of the WORK - a hierarchy describing how you want to manage and understand performance. As such, the WBS is always PROJECT-SPECIFIC, although for similar project types, the higher levels can be made consistent, but this is not essential. It is the primary structure used in almost EVERY project management system.
The WBS is just one of many ways to categorize project attributes, costs, and activities. With ProjectAI, you can better understand how to leverage alternative structures (such as cost breakdown structures, physical breakdown structures, organization breakdown structures, and financial breakdown structures) to understand your projects from multiple dimensions.
Control Accounts are the lowest level of the WBS, describing the level at which you want to budget, monitor, control and forecast the work. You can track certain details below this level, but the Control Account is the point at which all the detail comes together to tell you how the work is going.
Alternate Breakdown Structures
As mentioned above, there are many ways to categorise other aspects of the project. While the WBS is project-specific, other attributes can be standardized - giving you a consistent way to categorise all your projects, even if they are dramatically different from each other.
- Cost Breakdown Structures (CBS) - a standard categorization of project cost, allowing the project to map cost details to a structure which could be made consistent across all projects, (e.g. labor, equipment, freight, materials, etc.). There are a variety of simplified and more advanced cost categorization methods used in different industries, and ProjectAI can help to make this easy!
- Physical Breakdown Structure (PBS) - a hierarchical decomposition of the final resultant deliverable of the project. This is particularly used in capital construction projects, to describe the physical asset(s) that will result from the project - regardless of how the work packages are managed.
- Organisation Breakdown Structures (OBS) - a hierarchical decomposition of the resources involved in the project, used to identify the people or organisations responsible and/or accountable for the execution or management of an activity or scope of work.
- Financial Breakdown Structures (FBS) - a structure used to describe the way the project is to be funded or accounted for within an ERP system (such as SAP, JD Edwards, Oracle, etc.), which may not align with the WBS. This enables the cost information to flow correctly from accounting systems to the necessary project systems.
Deliverables & Progress Measurement
The most effective projects have a clear understanding of physical progress - how activities / deliverables have been, or will be completed, versus the cost we are incurring to achieve the outcome.
Just because you have spent 50% of the budget, may not necessarily mean you are 50% complete with the work.
This is the basic concept behind Earned Value Management, a simple technique which, when used correctly, can tell you quite a bit about the health of your project. ProjectAI can simplify this for you, and help you understand the detail supporting physical progress and performance metrics.
What data do you need to make this work? Learn more about Project Data Modelling