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MB0049 : Write a short note on the following: a. Work Breakdown Structure b. Estimation Approach

Posted on: October 7, 2011

MB0049 :  Write a short note on the following:
                a. Work Breakdown Structure

              b. Estimation Approach

       Answer: – Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The entire process of a project may be considered to be made up on number of sub process placed in different stage called the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). WBS is the technique to analyses the content of work and cost by breaking it down into its component parts. Project key stages form the highest level of the WBS, which is then used to show the details at the lower levels of the project. Each key stage comprises many tasks identified at the start of planning and later this list will have to be validated.

WBS is produced by identifying the key elements, breaking each element down into component parts and continuing to breakdown until manageable work packages have been identified. These can then be allocated to the appropriate person.

The WBS does not show dependencies other than a grouping under the key stages. It is not time based – there is no timescale on the drawing.

The work breakdown structure has a number of benefits in addition to defining and organizing the project work. A project budget can be allocated to the top levels of the work breakdown structure, and department budgets can be quickly calculated based on the each project’s work breakdown structure. By allocating time and cost estimates to specific sections of the work breakdown structure, a project schedule and budget can be quickly developed. As the project executes, specific sections of the work breakdown structure can be tracked to identify project cost performance and identify issues and problem areas in the project organization.

Project work breakdown structures can also be used to identify potential risks in a given project. If a work breakdown structure has a branch that is not well defined then it represents a scope definition risk. These risks should be tracked in a project log and reviewed as the project executes. By integrating the work breakdown structure with an organization breakdown structure, the project manager can also identify communication points and formulate a communication plan across the project organization.

When a project is falling behind, referring the work breakdown structure will quickly identify the major deliverables impacted by a failing work package or late sub- deliverable. The work breakdown structure can also be color coded to represent sub- deliverable status. Assigning colors of red for late, yellow for at risk, green for on-target, and blue for completed deliverables is an effective way to produce a heat-map of project progress and draw management’s attention to key areas of the work breakdown structure.

The following guidelines should be considered when creating a work breakdown structure:

  • The top level represents the final deliverable or project
  • Sub-deliverables contain work packages that are assigned to a organization’s department or unit
  • All elements of the work breakdown structure don’t need to be defined to the same level
  • The work package defines the work, duration, and costs for the tasks required to produce the sub-deliverable
  • Work packages should not exceed 10 days of duration
  • Work packages should be independent of other work packages in the work breakdown structure
  • Work packages are unique and should not be duplicated across the work breakdown structure


Estimation Approach

Estimation is the process of predicting the most realistic use of effort required to develop or maintain projects based on incomplete, uncertain and/or noisy input. Effort estimates may be used as input to project plans, iteration plans, budgets, and investment analyses, pricing processes and bidding rounds.

There are two types of estimation approaches:-

  1. Bottom up approach

The bottom up approach consists of the following steps.

i) Project manager first divides the product under development into major modules.

ii) Each module is subdivided into smaller units.

iii) Project manager defines a standard for manufacturing and self-testing by

· Identifying modules in the system and classifying them as simple, medium or complex

· Using either the provided standard definitions or definitions from past projects as much as possible

· Getting the average build effort for simple/medium/complex (S/M/C) programs from the baseline if a project specific baseline exists

  1. Top down Approach

The top down approach consists of the following steps.

i) Getting the estimate of the total size of the product in function points

ii) Fixing the productivity level for the project using the productivity data from the project specific capability baseline from the general process capability baseline, or from similar projects

iii) Obtaining the overall effort estimate from the productivity and size estimates

iv) Using effort distribution data from the process capability baselines or similar projects to estimate the effort for the various phases

v) Refining the estimates taking project specific factors into consideration

Estimation Tools

a. Algorithmic model – It consists of one or more algorithms that produce an effort estimate as a function of a number of variables or cost drivers.

b. Expert judgment – It relies on one or more people who are considered experts in some Endeavour related to the problem at hand. For example, it can be a software application or effort estimation.

c. Analogy – It refers to the comparison of the proposed project to completed projects of a similar nature whose costs are known. The organization’s process database is a source for historical cost data.

d. Top down – An overall cost estimate for the project is derived from global properties of the product. This estimate will usually be based on the previous projects and will include the costs of all functions in a project like integration, documentation, and quality assurance and configuration management.

e. Bottom-up – Each component of the software product is separately estimated and the results aggregated to produce an estimate for the overall job.

f. Automated estimation models – A number of computerized models are available which estimate cost and schedule from user inputs of size and environmental cost factors. Most of these are algorithmic models that use components as the measure of size.

1 Response to "MB0049 : Write a short note on the following: a. Work Breakdown Structure b. Estimation Approach"

Thanks u so much

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