What about work breakdown structure?

It seems that the importance of a logical work breakdown structure for projects can escape even the best implementation intentions at times. This seems to be largely due to the fact that accountants tend to be the ones heading up the implementation effort, not project managers.

A suggested solution to this is to let the project managers drive the project infocenter and project control implementation portions of Deltek Vision, and let the accountants drive the accounting portion. They are in fact two very different worlds… accounting and project management.

So in a few sentences let me lay out some very important core concepts that you should take to heart when implementing Vision:

1. Things that belong in work breakdown structure are normally Milestones or Deliverables.  One example of a project’s work breakdown structure (WBS) might be:

Project:  2011-1234.01  My big design project
Phase:  0001  Design
Tasks:  1.1 Preliminary discovery and requirements
1.2 Prelim. Design
1.3 Delivery of Design specs to construction

Phase: 0002 Construction
Tasks: 2.1 Source and vet service providers
2.2 Foundation
2.3 Walls
2.4 Roof
2.5 Finishing
2.6 Logo on door

Phase 0003 Permitting
Tasks:  3.1 Review permit requirements
3.2 Testing for compliance
3.3 Permit submittal
3.4 Deal with contingencies or anomolies

Now in Deltek Vision, all of these items go into the WBS tree at levels 1,2 and 3 respectively.  If anyone tells you you can put things like “phone calls and meetings” in there… they are wrong.  There is a right place and wrong place to put things in Deltek Vision.  I am finding that some firms who have converted from FMS to Vision did just that… put their labor codes into the level 3 of the WBS.  Big mistake.  It is correctable by the way… but not out of the box.

2. The activities that you do to accomplish the items in your WBS belong in the Labor Codes area in Deltek Vision:
If you’re wondering where “design meetings”, “phone calls”, “document review”, “field work”, “CAD/Drafting” and “Site inspection” go… think about what those are… they are activities.  They are the things we do to get done the items in the above WBS list. These activities generally can be distilled down to a standardized list of 50 or so “labor codes” or “activity codes” in any firm.

Some firms have as many as 100, but much more than that and you’re making that list confusing and not manageable for the end user.  Note:  While the WBS on projects will vary and change from project to project… the labor code or activity code list does NOT change.  True, every once in a while you may find yourself adding a labor code (especially right after implementation, that list will shift around a bit) but no more than one or items every year or two.  If you find yourself adding a lot of things to your labor codes list, then perhaps you’re not putting the data in the right place.

3. While Deltek Vision is flexible… there is a “right place” and a “wrong place” to store your data.  If you store the data in the wrong place, or if you put time to the wrong part of a project, then your data is meaningless and you might as well go back to using spreadsheets.

I think in the next couple posts I’ll address:
– the chart of accounts… the old way, and the now way.

– some good principals of application design to follow for the layman.


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