Organization and RAMs

An Organizational Breakdown Structure.

If you read my post “Getting to the Nuts & Bolts” then this is the continuation of that post. I’ll discuss the Organizational Breakdown Structure or the OBS, and the Resource Assignment Matrix or RAM.

We’ve defined the WBS, and the WBS Dictionary. Now we can focus on the OBS, which is the next organizational element requiring incorporation into our EVM system. The OBS represents organizational relationships and is the basis for the assignment of responsibilities associated with the work on the project. The OBS defines the organizational hierarchy of a discipline group in a way that reflects the specialties within the organization and their reporting relationship. In matrix organizations the PM will be responsible for the project but typically doesn’t manage the affairs of each discipline on the project. The figure below shows a simple fictional OBS for the Structures discipline in an engineering organization.

An Organizational Breakdown Structure for an Engineering Structures Group

An Organizational Breakdown Structure for an Engineering Structures Group

The OBS is structured by the responsible department with each subsequent level representing a specialty within the responsible group. Each lower level is broken down into specific areas of responsibility and discipline maturity, defining the levels at which the real work is done and not merely managed.

In some projects, Control Account Managers (see my post “CAMS Who Needs them) are selected to lead the disciplines and are chosen at a responsibility level of a discipline manager within the OBS. The reporting structure provides a means by which lower level workers have the ability to progress within the discipline gaining in responsibility with mastery of the discipline and work experience maturity. The OBS also reflects who is reporting to whom in the overall company hierarchy, and may not represent the organization of the project. That will be defined with the next concept which is the responsibility Assignment Matrix or RAM.

Responsibility Assignment Matrix

The last element necessary to define who’s doing  work in the organization of a project is the responsibility assignment matrix or RAM. If we combine the WBS and OBS and selectively attempt to marry both elements together we produce the RAM. The RAM is the basic tool by which the PM can assign responsibility by discipline from the OBS to each WBS element in the project plan, and ultimately on a schedule once the work is time phased. The ideal way to begin populating the RAM is to match the lowest level WBS structured task and identify in the OBS structure the equivalent discipline at the proper level of mastery executing the task.

Below is a simple table showing a WBS for home construction. It is highly simplified for example purposes. If the letter R appears in the higher level WBS then the organization or trade ( Concrete, Carpenters, Electricians, plumbers etc..) responsible for the work is identified. At each lower WBS level the specific skill set within that group might be identified so that the work in scope is matched to the correct skill level. In some organizations, a person’s name might show up. Other representations of the information may have a person identified as “informed”, “accountable”, or “responsive” to the task being described. In the example shown a legend is provided matching the skill set with the task at the proper WBS level.

A Simple Resource Assignment Matrix

A Simple Resource Assignment Matrix

So now we have all three essential structures identified and explained. I’ve discussed the WBS, OBS and RAM. We can now move forward with a more in-depth discussion on Earned Value Management and how to set up an example of a  simple project we’ll execute using EVM. Sign up and follow my posts, and you’ll be notified by e-mail when they come out. See you soon.

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Posted in Project Control, Project Execution, Project Planning

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