Organisation Breakdown Structures

This blog will look at Organisation Breakdown Structures (OBS). It is often said that Project Management is a series of breakdown structures:

Organisation Breakdown Structures (OBS) is a point in the project planning to pause and think of some of the wider organisational issues.


According to the APM, the OBS:

Describes the structure of the delivering organisation that can then be matched to work-packages in the WBS. This is useful particularly when work will be performed by business staff seconded to the project or by specialist teams working on more than one project.

I think that it can be wider than identifying and assigning tasks to resources.

Contents of the OBS

The OBS is all about the context in which the project exists. The OBS will contain information about:

In short, the OBS is about how to organise the people on the project.

People Deliver Projects

One of my mantras when delivering project management training is “People deliver projects – plans help”. There are plenty of things a project manager can do to plan and schedule the project, including:

The OBS is a point where they should stop and think about the people on the project. How they are organised, and how they should be communicated to.

The Organsisation is More Important than the Project

Ideally, an organisation has a wide and diverse portfolio of project. Failure of one project should not deeply effect the organisation. Understanding how their project fits into the overall organisations aims is vital for a Project Manager.

We have talked about Project Stakeholders previously. Perhaps the most important stakeholder is getting senior management support for the project.


Pay attention to these people issues in a project to help the project succeed.  Check skill levels, plan communication, think about developing the team, and change your leadership style to suit the situation.

People deliver Projects, and people can be the cause of project problems. Think about the wider organisational issues when setting up and planning the project.

Posted On: 9th June 2020

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