Difference Between Work Breakdown Structure and Resource Breakdown Structure

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 22, 2022


Difference Between Work Breakdown Structure and Resource Breakdown Structure Difference Between Work Breakdown Structure and Resource Breakdown Structure

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A good teacher makes a good student and good management makes a good business. A company, regardless of how less profits it reaps in the initial stages, can be more worthy than ever through the right kind of management techniques. Two such efficient techniques that help execute projects productively are constructing a Work Breakdown Structure(WBS) and a Resource Breakdown Structure(RBS). Although both can be executed simultaneously, they differ in their fundamentals and descriptions greatly.

Work Breakdown Structure vs. Resource Breakdown Structure

The main difference between a work breakdown structure and a resource breakdown structure lies in the representation of the structures and their respective purposes. A work breakdown structure can be described as a visual representation whereas a resource breakdown structure is described as a list. A work breakdown structure consists of all the tasks that need to be done to complete a project, divided into smaller units or chunks to make it more comprehensible. On the other hand, the resource breakdown structure consists of all the resources required to complete the project. This does not just include money or materials but also human resources, properties, location, technology, and other facilities.

Difference Between Work Breakdown Structure and Resource Breakdown Structure in Tabular Form

Table: Work Breakdown Structure vs. Resource Breakdown Structure
Parameters of Comparison
Work Breakdown Structure
Resource Breakdown Structure
Work breakdown structure describes the scope of a certain project by grouping them into smaller, more comprehensible segments.
The resource breakdown structure describes all the resources that are required to complete the project.
Work breakdown structure is represented graphically in a tree-like structure where the work is further divided into chunks.
Resource breakdown structure is represented in the form of a list where all the resources are jotted down in a hierarchical order.
A work breakdown structure can be referred to as WBS.
A resource breakdown structure can be referred to as RBS.
A WBS for the construction of a bicycle can consist of different levels, each level describing work related to the elements such as frameset, wheels, Braking system, Crankset, etc.
An RBS for the construction of a bicycle consists of all the resources required for the construction in a hierarchical manner such as the managers, timesheets, designs, equipment, etc.
Improves the level of supervision of any project.
Improves supervision of the resources and helps reduce any potential wastage.
A WBS focuses more on the project timeline.
An RBS focuses more on resource allocation.
A WBS cannot be the same for every project as project groups need to be independent.
An RBS can be shared as resource groups can depend on each other.

What is Work Breakdown Structure?

A Work Breakdown Structure(WBS) is a project deliverable that serves as an efficient management method to maintain and supervise a project. It works in a divide-and-conquer method that helps divide the scope of a project into smaller segments. This segmentation and categorization help allocate the resources better and avoid time wastage by finishing execution faster.

Types of Work Breakdown Structure:-

A WBS can be categorized into two different types depending on where you want to emphasize your project i.e., time or the scope.

  • Deliverable-based structures: When a WBS is constructed based on the scope of the project, it is called a deliverable-based WBS. The project is first decomposed into major areas that will define the basic segments of the project. These segments will remain as the control accounts and will be further divided into smaller tasks and deliverables that need to be executed.

For example, the WBS of the construction of a cycle may be divided into categories such as wheels, handles, brakes, etc. These categories can be further divided into smaller tasks that need to be finished such as handlebars, seats, frames, etc.

  • Phase-based structures: When a WBS is constructed based on the timeline of the execution of the project, it is known as the phase-based WBS. Any project is usually divided into five stages called initiation, planning, execution, control & maintenance, and wrap-up. The tasks that need to be executed are divided and allocated into these categories that help maintain and chase goals better.

For example, the initiation phase of a deliverable-based WBS can consist of proposing the idea and accumulating the resources whereas the planning can consist of preparing the blueprints and the necessary documentation.

Types of Work Breakdown Structure Charts:-

Once it has been decided whether the team wants to construct a deliverable-based WBS or a phase-based WBS, it is required to choose how we can represent the WBS. Here are a few examples of how we can represent a WBS.

  • WBS list: The most straightforward method of representing a WBS is to form a list of the tasks required to perform. This method of representation is also called an outline view.
  • WBS flowchart/tree: It is a method of representing tasks hierarchically by representing the workflow in a tree diagram or a flowchart. It is the most popular version of a WBS representation and also the most comprehensible, easy-to-understand format.
  • WBS spreadsheet: Spreadsheets provide several functions that are inbuilt and help reduce manual labor while documentation. Thus, spreadsheets can help make several WBS efficiently.
  • WBS Gantt chart: Gantt chart can be described as a combination of timeline and spreadsheets. A dynamic Gantt chart helps you set milestones, baselines, and other such deliverables. These extra features help it stand out from other methods of representation by being the most efficient and modern in terms of technology.

What is Resource Breakdown Structure?

A Resource Breakdown Structure(RBS) can be described as a tree diagram that consists of all the resources required for the execution of the project. It is represented in the form of a list constructed hierarchically. To define it simply, we can say that an RBS is a WBS that is non-visual and constructed for only resources. These resources, however, do not only mean material goods and equipment or money but also the human workforce and technology required to complete the project.

Importance of a Resource Breakdown Structure:-

  • Single truth: When a properly structured resource breakdown structure is constructed for a certain project, a single source of truth is established about all the resources used and their relevant information. Maintaining a large number of employees can get quite strenuous, especially when information must be documented appropriately. An RBS helps avoid any confusion due to multiple sources.
  • Better Insight: Maintaining an RBS helps all the employees or teammates have access to instantaneous information about the resources being used in the project, such as the number of resources left, the number of resources being wasted, and the requirement of extra resources, etc.
  • Improved budgetary decisions: Money is a vital part of any project since every high-end project needs to have appropriate capital. It is also the most important resource along with a human workforce. Maintaining an RBS allows one to keep check of all the costs and expenses made for the project. By analyzing an RBS, we can get to know what resources are necessary and what is not. This helps us in cutting costs and making accurate budgetary decisions.
  • Cross-functional teams: Since resource teams can depend on each other, cross-functioning is possible. However, this can get quite tedious when one has to keep up with the documentation of the resources. Maintaining an RBS helps coordinate the workflow between such cases of cross-functional teams and streamlines the collaboration.
  • Minimizing gaps: Due to human errors, there is always a potential that a team might overlook certain gaps or overlaps in the required resources and other such project needs. When an RBS is constructed, it helps in easy identification of such mishaps that can prevent any further disasters.
  • Post-production analysis: By working with one project, the respective team gains experience that can help deal with other relevant projects more carefully. Thus, creating an RBS can provide some insight and crucial information along with tips for future projects and helps plan in a more organized manner.
  • Workload assessment: RBS analyzes all the resources used for the project along with the human workforce. Thus, it is easy to identify and analyze which department has a higher or lower workload, providing them to balance the workforce of the team.

Example of a Resource Breakdown Structure(RBS):-

An RBS can have a lot more details and hierarchies than just how a list describes it. Let us consider a project where a new product is to be launched in a business. Here is an example of a rough RBS:

  1. Equipment:- The resources included in this category can be described as all the material goods required for the construction and execution of the project.
  • Laptops or Desktops for interaction, communication, and documentation.
  • Printers for physical proofs of documents, contracts, certificates, etc.
  • Projectors for presentations to fellow teammates, higher authorities, or potential investors.
  • Miscellaneous stuff such as the stationery required.
  1. Technology:- Since most businesses are done online, it is very important that businesses establish their online presence to garner a higher audience. While the software is not the only thing a business can need, there are also online tools that might not be open source or free. Here are some examples related to information and technology resources required.
  • Design tools for company logos or campaigning.
  • Software for project management.
  • Websites to promote the project or add it to the existing website.
  • Software for invoicing and sales.
  1. Human resources:- RBS must also include all the workforce that is included in the project. This helps higher authorities analyze the workforce and supervise the balance of the workload appropriately.
  • Ap project manager and department managers
  • Website designers manage the addition of the products and maintain the website.
  • Content writers that help write blogs and posts on the respective website and social media websites to promote sales.
  • Salespersons to make sales and document them.
  • Marketing assistants that team with content writers to launch campaigns relevant to the product.
  • Customer service agents that can deal with grievances or queries of customers.
  • Delivery agents: For products that might need delivery service, DElivery agents must be hired to fulfill the necessary transport of the products to the customers who’ve ordered them.
  1. Property or Site:- All businesses cannot be done online and some need proper sites or facilities to conduct necessary operations. In-person teams and projects need conference rooms, warehouses, and offices to conduct meetings that can help them brainstorm ideas and innovations or perform regular supervision.

Main Differences Between Work Breakdown Structure and Resource Breakdown Structure in Points

  • A Work Breakdown Structure can be referred to as WBS whereas a Resource Breakdown Structure can be referred to as an RBS.
  • A WBS consists of all the tasks that need to be completed, divided into smaller segments for higher understanding, to execute a certain project. RBS, on the other hand, consists of all the resources required for the execution of the project.
  • A WBS is usually represented visually in a tree-like structure or spreadsheets while dividing the overall scope of the project into smaller chunks. RBS is typically represented through a list hierarchically.
  • An RBS is constructed to supervise the expenditure of all the resources and reduce potential wastage whereas a WBS is constructed to supervise the operations of a project.
  • A WBS can focus on the project scope or the timeline whereas an RBS focuses on resource allocation.
  • These concepts can also be distinguished by their scope too. A WBS must not be the same for any two projects as project teams should remain independent. An RBS, on the other hand, can be the same or shared between teams and resource groups do not have any obligation to remain independent.
  • The WBS of the construction of a cycle consists of tasks related to wheelsets, cranksets, framesets, etc., whereas RBS consists of all the human resources, equipment required, design sheets, etc.


We can summarize through the above-stated points that RBS deals with the resources required for the execution of the project whereas a WBS deals with the tasks that need to be performed to execute the certain project. They aren’t mutually exclusive and can be overlapped, which proves to be more beneficial.



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"Difference Between Work Breakdown Structure and Resource Breakdown Structure." Diffzy.com, 2022. Sun. 02 Oct. 2022. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-work-breakdown-structure-and-resource-275>.

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