Lesson 1.7: Work Breakdown Structure
What is a WBS?
DOD uses a specific format, called a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), to: ●
Break work into product-oriented elements and work processes. Allow acquisition personnel to manage risk at levels lower than the overall system (e.g., at the engine part level of an aircraft).
The WBS is a result of the systems engineering process. Because it shows the relationships among the various products being developed, the WBS is often referred to as a "productoriented family tree hierarchy." WBS is a valuable program management tool that is used throughout all life-cycle phases, and benefits all acquisition disciplines (e.g., program management, contracting, logistics, finance and budgeting).
How is a WBS Used?
Both contractors and DOD components use a WBS to establish a foundation for: ●
Developing program and technical plans through the systems engineering process. Developing acquisition strategy and contracting documents.
Estimating costs and formulating budgets.
Tracking progress and accomplishments.
Reporting progress status and analyzing problems.
Using the WBS: Managing Costs
A WBS can be used to help make program management decisions. For example, if the costs of an element in the WBS are too high, the WBS can be used to identify possible tradeoffs. Identifying and analyzing tradeoffs can help the manager decide how best to stay within budget.
Using the WBS: Managing Risks
A WBS can be used to identify issues and concerns. By identifying all possible issues and concerns, Program Managers can reduce risk.
Using the WBS: Assigning Work
The WBS is also useful for determining an acquisition strategy and/or assigning work. The information contained in the WBS can help a Program Manager develop a statement of work that describes what products or services are to be delivered. Using the WBS: Scheduling and Tracking
A schedule of key events can be developed for each element in the WBS. Completion of these key events is then tracked.
Using the WBS: Summary
A WBS is a valuable management tool that:
Is used throughout all life-cycle phases.
Manages risk by providing insight into technical aspects of program management. Benefits all acquisition disciplines (e.g., program management, contracting, logistics, finance and budgeting, etc.)
Program and Contract WBSs
The two types of WBSs are:
Program Work Breakdown Structures
Contract Work Breakdown Structures
A Program WBS is defined as "the work breakdown that covers the acquisition of a specific defense materiel item and is related to contractual effort." A Program WBS is: ●
Tailored to each specific program.
Prepared and maintained by the Government.
Provides a basis for developing the Contract WBS.
Program WBS Levels
Typically, a Program WBS consists of the upper three levels. WBS Level 1:
WBS Level 2:
WBS Level 3:
The entire defense materiel item.
Major elements of the defense materiel item, which are subordinate to Level 1.
Elements subordinate to Level 2 elements.
Mil Standard 881C
Program offices tailor a Program WBS for each program using the guidance in Mil Standard 881C. Work Breakdown Structures can be defined by using the following defense materiel items found in this Handbook:
Electronic and Automated Software Systems
Surface Vehicle Systems
A Contract WBS:
Extends the Program WBS to a lower level in order to provide management and cost information to the Government.
Includes all the elements for products (e.g., hardware, software, data, or services) that are the responsibility of the contractor.
Must be consistent with the Program WBS.
Mil Standard 881C and...
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