Wayne Abba

Abba_WaynePanel Discussion: Misuse of Work Breakdown Structures (WBS)

Abstract:  The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a well-known tool for aiding in defining the total scope of any project, program, or portfolio.  Its use is considered the foundation for good management, the basis for collecting data, the means for defining and expressing the specific outcomes of a project – their end products and results, and ultimately the cornerstone for communicating with the stakeholders on a project, program or portfolio.

But what can go wrong in this process?  Why are work breakdown structures so hard to define and why does everyone have a different opinion of how they should be created – given their use is to identify the outcomes of the project?  What makes up a WBS and is it process oriented, product oriented, results oriented or does it reflect how the project is managed, developed or delivered?  Given the fluidity of these questions, is the 100% rule always required; and what happens when new technology and innovative concepts for creating, building, and delivering are infused into a project? Does that change the WBS? These and other topics of WBS use and misuse will be discussed at this session.

Biography: Wayne F. Abba is an executive advisor and principal of Abba Consulting, an independent management consulting firm based in Falls Church, Virginia.  He is internationally-recognized as a spokesperson for program management using Earned Value Management (EVM).  With over 30 years’ experience in program analysis and a worldwide reputation as a leader in acquisition improvement, he was integrally involved in the complete reengineering of Department of Defense (DoD) contract cost and schedule management policies and implementation, which was awarded the Packard Award for Excellence in Acquisition in 1998. He retired in 1999 as Senior Program Analyst in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology. His clients include the Social Security Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Agency for International Development, the US Navy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and several national laboratories.  He has been an advisor to the Office of Management and Budget, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and other US and foreign government agencies.  He served several years as an officer of the National Defense Industrial Association’s Integrated Program Management Division. Wayne has a Masters degree in Public Administration from The American University and a B.S. degree from the University of the State of New York.

During his public service career, Wayne coordinated cooperative agreements among DoD and its counterparts in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom related to acquisition policies & standards. Since retiring from DoD in 1999, Wayne has also been vice president for a PM software and services company; a member of the NDIA Program Management Systems Committee with responsibility for international liaison; President of the College of Performance Management (CPM) and currently Executive VP of CPM; advisor to GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment and Scheduling guide teams; Senior Program Management Advisor for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative Program for the NNSA at DOE headquarters; program/project management advisor to several US national laboratories; Member of the Board of Directors of the Graduate School Japan (2012-present); and advisor to Japan’s Ministry of Defense on acquisition and program management issues.  He was a winner of PMI’s Distinguished Contribution Award in 1999; was named an Honorary Fellow of the Centre for Excellence in Project Management, India in 2005; and has been a frequent keynote speaker on EVM, Program & Project Management since 1990.