Building a Work Breakdown Structure in Primavera P6 is a fairly simple process as long as you capture all the deliverables.
In our example below, we have been given a contract to deliver a new search feature for a software tool. So how do we ensure we capture all the deliverables for this contract? We’ll take you though building a Work Breakdown Structure in Primavera P6.
First, in Primavera P6 we enter ‘Projects’ and ‘Create a New Project’ and give our project name ‘ProSearch’ as shown in Figure 1.
Our project is called ‘ProSearch’ so the top level of our WBS will be ‘ProSearch’ as shown below in Figure 2.
Now we begin to construct Level 2 of our WBS. This contains the major components required to develop the new search feature.
The first major area is documentation which defines the attributes of our new feature. We call this component, deliverable ‘Definition’. The feature has to be designed with documentation to show what our search feature looks like, so we call this deliverable ‘Design.’ Our Programmers will have to write the codes and build the features, so logically we call our next Level 2 deliverable ‘Build’. Finally, our search feature will have to be thoroughly tested and quality assured, therefore our final Level 2 deliverable will be ‘Test &QA’, as shown in Figure 3.
With Level 2 of our WBS complete, we assess whether any more deliverables will make up Level 3. We decide that ‘Definition’, ‘Design’, and ‘Test & QA’ are complete but there are some additional deliverables that are attached to ‘Build’. We have three main areas; an interface that users will interact with, and an underlining search engine and a database connectivity component. These all form the third level of our WBS as shown below in Figure 4.
If we cannot break down the elements any further in Level 3 then our WBS would be complete at this level, and Level 3 will be construed as the lowest level of our WBS. How do we know if we have broken down all of our deliverables?
The skill in building a good WBS is knowing when to stop. We need the WBS to be sufficiently detailed to give an account of the main deliverables of our project, but not so detailed that the WBS elements begin to represent activities at the lowest levels of the structure.
As a guide, one way to know if we have gone down too far is if the WBS element only has one or two short durations.
In our example, we explore what happens if we breakdown the ‘Interface’ further into three components of ‘Search Field’, ‘Search Button’, and ‘Advanced Search Button’ to make Level 4 of our WBS as shown below in Figure 5.
Technically Level 4 (‘Search Field’, ‘Search Button, and Advanced Search Button) can be identified as WBS deliverables, however, do they add any value to the management team as a summary item? We review them on the WBS in Primavera P6 and notice that all the Level 4 elements under ‘Interface’ (of Level 3), only have one activity whereas the lowest WBS items in Level 3 have 5 activities. The Level 4 elements have very short durations, between 4 and 7 days each in comparison to the rest of the WBS deliverables, as shown below in Figure 6.
It is worth remembering when constructing a WBS that elements should always describe the deliverable whereas activities describe the work required to build the deliverable. It would be appropriate to represent these items as activities in the schedule, below the ‘Interface’ element in our WBS, as shown below in Figure 7.
When we review our activities, as shown in Figure 8, we can see that by leaving the three elements( ‘Search Field’, ‘Search Button’ and ‘Advanced Search Button’) as activities our WBS is more balanced at a level of summarization that will be of greater value to our project team.
When constructing a Work Breakdown Structure in Primavera P6, the scheduler should breakdown the deliverables into manageable elements. Care needs to be taken in addressing whether a deliverable adds value to the summarized WBS. If a deliverable has a shorter duration or only a single activity than other elements in the WBS then maybe it would be appropriate to represent it as an activity.