What Is a Resource Breakdown Structure?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden
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A resource breakdown structure is a chart or computerized model that shows the various resources necessary for a given project. Such structures can be organized in a variety of different ways, but they are usually hierarchical in nature. They tend to contain tangible resources, such as personnel, machinery, and raw materials, rather than monetary resources, though the monetary costs of the tangible resources are generally included. These structures can, therefore, be used to develop predictions for the costs of a project, as they are developed based on the resources necessary rather than the money available. Using one can make the process of planning a project that involves many different resources much easier and can help those involved to stick to the plan by ensuring that resource division is clearly defined.

The use of a resource breakdown structure can provide many advantages to a project, particularly when the project requires a complex array of different resources. Such structures allow managers to keep track of which resources are needed for which phase of a project and which personnel are supposed to work with which resources. Using one can help ensure that resources are where they are supposed to be during the appropriate phases of a project and that redundant resources are not purchased or used.

It is possible to organize this type of model in several different ways. Many companies organize the necessary resources by type and would group all machinery, raw materials, and personnel separately. Alternately, a breakdown may be organized to reflect the chronological progression of a project. All of the resources that are needed for each phase are grouped together and then separated within their chronological categories into different sub-categories. Resources may be further divided based on who is supposed to be using them, though many structures simply count personnel as resources themselves and do not organize the structure in this manner.

Though the organization of the chart or model may vary, the most common type of structure is unified by an overarching hierarchical organization. The "management," or main project group, is placed at the top, with subordinate groups and the resources they need below that. This resource breakdown structure organization ensures not only that everyone involved knows where resources belong, but also that they know the hierarchical chain of the entire project.

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