You’re in charge of a team that has to build something. You gather the team together and break down the project into their parts. Your goal is to make sure each member of your team understands everything they are supposed to do, so they can contribute effectively to the project. The information you’re building is going to be used by people outside of your group who will also need this information. How do you piece all this together in an understandable way? You create a resource breakdown structure (RBS).
What is a resource breakdown structure? (RBS)
A resource breakdown structure (RBS) is a hierarchical outline of the resources needed to deliver a project. Project managers typically use it to create a complete list of resources needed, while estimating costs and timeframes.
In essence, it’s the blueprint for what your project will require in terms of human and financial resources. Oftentimes, a resource breakdown structure is drawn in the form of a tree to highlight a systematic breakdown of the work and resources required for a project.
The RBS can be developed as an independent activity by the project manager, or in collaboration with other stakeholders, such as the project team or the customer. It can also be built from existing documentation or information that has been generated during the planning process.
Creating an RBS ensures that the project manager and stakeholders have a clear picture of all project requirements and how they’ll be met. This helps to prevent expensive changes or delays later on in the project.
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The importance of an RBS in project management
The idea behind the RBS is to give project managers a detailed insight into their project’s resource requirements prior to starting the project – and thereby helping them to avoid resource-related risks once the project has been started.
A resource breakdown structure can help you and your team:
- Plan for the resources you’ll need to deliver a successful project
- Identify missing resources and develop strategies for sourcing them
- Identify risks associated with acquiring required resources
- Manage budgets, as you’ll know exactly how much money is being spent
- Give stakeholders confidence in your ability to meet project deadlines
How to create a resource breakdown structure
Creating a resource breakdown structure (RBS) is simple. All you need to do is make a hierarchical list of all resources in your project and link them to the activities they’re working on.
The first thing would be to identify all the work packages in your project. Then brainstorm all the resources needed to carry out these work packages. This could include people, equipment, facilities or material.
In order to create an RBS, you generally have to know your requirements, which means you need detailed information on:
- Activities that have to be performed and when they have to be completed
- The resources you need to complete those activities
- How much of each resource you will need in order to complete each activity on time
Once you’ve completed your initial RBS, you can use it to build a Gantt chart or a PERT Chart that will help you allocate resources not only to the project, but also to individual tasks within your project. By using a RBS, you set up one of the most important foundations of any project: knowing what resources your project needs, and how they’ll be used. Just like lists are the foundation of any good PowerPoint presentation, creating an RBS is a foundational task for any important project.