Term Definition

Organization Breakdown Structure (also known as Organizational Breakdown Structure) or OBS is a hierarchical model describing the established organizational framework for project planningresource managementtime and expense trackingcost allocation, revenue/profit reporting, and work management.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) captures all elements of projects in an organized fashion. Breaking down large, complex projects into smaller project pieces provides a better framework for organizing and managing current and future projects. WBS facilitates resource allocation, task assignment, measurement and control of project cost and billing. The WBS is utilized at the beginning of the project to define scope, identify cost centers and is the starting point to developing project plans/Gantt charts.

The Organization Breakdown Structure groups together similar project activities or “work packages” and relates them to the organization’s structure. OBS is used to define the responsibilities for project management, cost reporting, billing, budgeting and project control. The OBS provides an organizational rather than a task-based perspective of the project. The hierarchical structure of the OBS allows the aggregation (rollup) of project information to higher levels. When project responsibilities are defined and work is assigned, the OBS and WBS are connected providing the possibility for powerful analytics to measure project and workforce performance at a very high level (example business unit performance) or down to the details (example user work on a task).

To develop an Organization Breakdown Structure:

  1. Draw of the entire organization as a hierarchy
  2. Define all departments and project teams.
  3. Specify functional (where cost for the work the user does is allocated to) and approval (who approves the work the user performs and any leave time approvals) groups for every user.

The following is a sample OBS:


Area of Application 
Project Management
Workforce Management
Work Breakdown Structure

Related Terms
Work Breakdown Structure