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Work Breakdown Structures for Construction

18.06.20 07:00 AM By Karen Parker

QicGuide Series: Work Breakdown Structures (WBS)

What is a Work Breakdown Structure or WBS?

Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) are used to divide your Job or Project into smaller components or nodes to help you plan, track and evaluate your progress. Basically, a WBS is a visual description of the project with different levels of detail.


Managers are then able to assign each level with a cost, time frame, resources and possibly technical details. These entries are then used to monitor project delivery, as well as ‘roll up’ (or sum) to provide the job/project budget.


So how do you create a WBS? While there is no set answer to this question, as each job or project can differ, perhaps these methods can help:

1.  Use your existing quote template. With out even realising it many of our customers already have a WBS structure – their quote template. Your quote allows you to provide costings in accordance with the scope ie ball park figures or in depth consideration based on the tasks you need to undertake.



2.  Use a white board to brainstorm. Perhaps you are about to undertake a large scale project (possibly for a new client) that you have never undertaken before and you want to reduce your risk, then we recommend you attack your WBS with a white board marker and post-it notes.  By undertaking this brain storming or mind mapping exercises it will highlight any unknowns and allow you to plan accordingly or add contingency. These technique is also great if you are making scope changes ‘on the fly.’


Let’s use building a house as an example. Start by naming your project. Then think about any pre-works like offsite works, designs, approvals, or long lead items. Then start (literally) from the ground up – foundations, walls, roof, fit out etc. Like a good story your WBS should also have a conclusion to capture job close out such as sign off/hand over, punchlists, or non billable items.


As you work through and plan what needs to be done to complete the project, your WBS will grow.


QicTips to WBS creation:

  • Each structure should be an end item, output oriented. This helps you define your job deliverables.
  • Nodes can be created to accommodate particular trades, contractors, locations, disciplines, tasks, workpacks or teams. The list is endless.
  • Structures should only have a duration of 10 days or be set to your reportable period.
  • WBS can be linked and monitored within your Job/Project schedule
  • QicWorks allows you to create a default WBS structure which activates when you create a Job.
  • There are two (2) options to amend your WBS structure in QicWorks; firstly change your account’s default to capture this change going forward, or amend the specific Job WBS to suit.


Work Breakdown Structures are a great tool for managers to define scope, align teams, drive performance and quality and measure all aspect of the Job’s life cycle. Are you using your WBS to its fullest?


QicWorks is a business management solution that has been designed to manage complex rate structures, across multiple entities and worksites, all from the one account. QicWorks provides accurate real time field data giving you the confidence to make the right decisions. Contact us today to see how QicWorks can transform how you do business.


The information contained within this blog is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own situation and legislative requirements before making any decisions

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