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Work Breakdown Structure Paper

Chapman (2004) describes a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) as a results-oriented family tree that captures all the work of a project in an organized way. The WBS therefore presents graphically the tasks in tabular as a hierarchical tree but it can also be a presented as task list in the form of a Gantt chart schedule. A simple example of WBS is shown in Appendix A. WBS as a planning tool In simple sense, the WBS could be used as a planning tool. Some projects could really be too big that could result to confusion if no planning is done.

Imagine a contractor planning to build 1,000 houses with a month without a plan. How will he or she see to it that materials are available and delivered on time would be serious thing to consider. Add the fact that prices of materials could fluctuate in the market that could affect the contractor is sourcing the same materials in the light of cash flow requirements. To illustrate, it could not just be assumed that the materials will all be delivered at the construction site immediately as there could be problems as to storage and even security.

One could be overwhelmed and confused if the amount of work and time is underestimated when it will turnout that it could be more. Mismanagement of projects normally comes from lack of planning and one who wants to comply in contracts could not afford not to have a plan. The nature of contracts with the use of WBS Contracts that are entered into between the parties create obligation between them. A typical construction contract for example that exist between the contractor (builder) and a contractee (owner the building) will cause the contractor to deliver the constructed according to specifications (Prager, J.1994) made by the contractee.

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Under the contract, the contractor must finish the building or project for given period time, using require materials, employing the required skills from its workers and completing other requirements that would satisfy the provisions of the contracts. The contractee in return may promise to pay the contractor based on progress billing or upon completion. Under either scenario, the work break structure may be of use to both parties. How may the contractor may make use of the WBS?

On the part of the contractor, he or she may makes use of the WBS to plan the project for the construction of the house. In the WBS, contractor may specify the activities or the works to be accomplished within the a give period, which could daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly for big projects involving numerous number of housing units. With the WBS, which may be in form of a tree or Gantt chart, the corresponding cost and amount of materials may also be identified and plotted as guide by the contractor to see how he is or she is progressing in his or her work.

Logically, the WBS could therefore serve as planning tool where the contractor could put down all the necessary activities that must be finished under given deadlines. In the case of progress billing type of contracts, the contractor can then use the WBS or the Gantt chart to document the extent of completion for purposes of billing the contractee. In the WBS, the contractor also binds himself or herself to do certain activities ahead of other, hence this could be used by the contractor to explain possible delay in finishing the contracts.

A typical example is the delivery of materials beyond the control of the contractor. If the delay of the delivery was beyond the fault of the contractor, then the delay could be blamed on the said contractor, in which case the WBS could really a functional tool to justify delay so as to avoid damages. How may the contractee may make use of the WBS? On the part of the contractee, the WBS could be used to demand measurement of performance. As indicted earlier contract have deadlines, hence the contractee my charge some penalties for delay if such provisions were made part of the contract.

On the basis of the WBS, the contractee may pay or may also refuse to pay in accordance with the contract. It could thus be said also that the WBS is the graphical representation of contract that was put in words and which was acknowledge in writing by the contracting parties. In so using the WBS, the contractee may check if the contractee is too fast that may tell something about the quality of project. Hence finishing ahead of time does not necessarily mean that the contractor is efficient.

In construction contracts time could be very relevant in imposing standards. Cements need to dry well before other part of construction could continue and for some this may take time. Even in soil preparation good construction practice allow the passage of time to make it sure the materials need to be allowed some time to effective. This could be applicable also in the case of paints. The WBS could therefore guide the contractee in verifying that only the works to be done first should be done ahead to ensure quality of the project.

In case of lack of fault of both contracting the parties, the WBS is desirable to have a contingency plan in order to prevent losses to both parties. In certain contracts however, time is of the essence that completion on time could be of paramount importance. Conclusion We have seen that work breakdown structure has its use and purpose in contracts. From the were discussed, it could thus be said that the WBS is a requirement for contract as a planning tool, as an evaluation tool and even as a legal tool for both of the parties of the contract to measure and determine the compliance of their obligations to each other.

Based on discussion, the view could be confirmed that WBS may be designed to try to achieve certain goals such as: (1) being compatible with how the work that will be done and how costs and schedules will be managed; (2) giving visibility to important or risky work efforts; (3) allowing mapping of requirements, plans, testing, and deliverables; (4) fostering clear ownership by managers and task leaders; and (5) providing data for performance measurement and historical databases (Chapman, 2004).

Appendix A, Source: Chapman, J. (2004)

References: Chapman, J. (2004) Introduction to the WBS, {www document} URL http://www. hyperthot. com/pm_wbs. htm, Accessed June 5,2007 Prager, J. (1994) Contracting out Government Services: Lessons from the Private Sector, Public Administration Review, Vol. 54, 1994

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