Dear PM Advisor. July 30, 2012

Dear PM Advisor, I'm learning to plan projects and am using a Work Breakdown Structure for the first time. My project is an R&D project that requires us to run many raw materials through the process steps of a steel mill. Can I make ingots of steel one of the deliverables in the WBS?

Peru Steeler

Dear Peru Steeler,

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a deliverables-based decomposition of project work. Deliverables are of two types:

  1. Operating Deliverables are the tangible items you have remaining when the project is over. These enter the ongoining operations environment when the project is over and you can touch them. (New equipment, processes, software, etc.)
  2. Project Deliverables are tangible elements of the project that are required during the project duration that won't enter the operating environment (Beta-test versions of software for example)

These deliverables are placed at level two of the WBS and are broken down further into activities.

Where do raw materials fit in the WBS? They may appear in the activities but never in the deliverables. Just like any other project that requires tests to be run, the product being run through the tests is never part of the WBS. Your deliverables may be items like: New Machinery, New Processes, New Procedures, Trained Operators. When you break down these deliverables you may end up with activities like: Develop new procedures, run ingots through machinery, analyze results, gather more materials, process ingots into bars, etc.

So the ingots and any other raw materials may be used in the project and appear as activities in the WBS but they do not belong in level 2 of the WBS: The deliverables.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

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