Single Page Dot Point – Work Breakdown Structure
As with most tools which are used in Engineering and Project Management, there are times when it should be regarded as absolutely essential and there are other times when it just isn't worth the effort. This Single Page Dot Point (SPDP) isn't about teaching WBS's. Its about knowing when and why it should be used.
If in doubt – ask the question
- As the saying goes, “Familiarity Breeds Contempt”. I had been through a long period of time dealing with very competent engineering contractors. I didn't need to get into a great deal of detail. I told them what I wanted, when I wanted it and it happened. Too Easy
- A few years ago I was working as a Project Manager in a food company which ran 24/6. I was working on a contract basis and they directed that I use a particular contractor (who was new to me) in order to modify some process conveyors in 2 stages. There was a window of opportunity over a long weekend for the first stage.
- The contractor came in to look at the work beforehand and was very convincing, I had no reason to think that they would not do an excellent job.
- Without going into detail, it was an absolute disaster and whilst we managed to get a result, it was more by good luck plus a lot of very hard, stressful work.
- It was a wake up call for me
- I made sure that the second stage was fully covered by a very comprehensive WBS
- Again, the work needed to be done during a planned outage, over a weekend
- This time it was planned to the Nth degree
- Every nut and bolt was captured
- Who was doing what and estimated timelines for the work
- There was contingency for additional resource in the event that the work was falling behind
- When I first advised the contractor that I needed a comprehensive WBS I met severe resistance
- This was a foreign concept – they had never experienced this before
- To start with it was very painful, I worked hand in hand with them during the initial part of the process highlighting specifically the level of detail required
- Once the initial resistance was broken down they could appreciate the benefits
- By asking the questions such as Who will do it ?, How will it be done ? , Walk me through the work, most of the issues where identified and solved before the work actually started
- The second stage was a breath of fresh air by comparison with the first stage and was very successfulThe contractors were very pleased to take on board the learnings and I know that they were using it as a sales tool by actively promoting the WBS process to their customers
- My learnings where - to not get complacent and to always ask the question – Does this project need a WBS ? and if it does – to what level of detail
- Not every project needs a WBS – It's a value judgement which comes with experience.
Still not sure ? - Just Do It
- What could go wrong ?
- What would be the ramification ?
Monday 7 March, 2011 07:17 AM