What is the resource breakdown structure (RBS) in project management and how is it written?

What is the resource breakdown structure (RBS) in project management and how is it written? Resource management is one of the most important aspects of building a successful business and delivering complete projects. It is an exercise that involves deliberate planning and follow-through, as well as agility and flexibility to adapt to changing environments and deal with conflicts or bottlenecks in the plan.

Good managers use the Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS) in project management to ensure efficient resource allocation and management to increase the chance of success. They create resource breakdown structures that help visualize, plan, and organize organizational resources.

While a resource breakdown structure is very useful at the beginning of a project, it will have benefits throughout the project development cycle. Accurate and systematic project management methods align resource breakdown structure, group processes, and workflows from start to finish and encourage resource sharing and project synchronization with program-level execution.

A resource breakdown structure, when done correctly and set into a system, helps teams estimate scope, costs, and budgets, achieve more in less time and maintain a consistent standard of quality output.

What is the resource decomposition structure?

Now we have a picture of what resource decomposition structures do and how they contribute to business success, but let’s have a clear definition of the term. What is the resource decomposition structure? what does it look like?

What is the resource decomposition structure
What is the resource decomposition structure

A resource breakdown structure or RBS is a list of resources required to deliver a project. This includes everything that costs money, including people, tools, materials, permits, locations, and time.

Developing a resource breakdown structure helps project or resource managers to categorize available and required resources based on function and type, minimize risk and uncertainty, and produce more successful results.

What are the advantages of resource decomposition structure?

There are many advantages to drawing RBS before working on a new project. Apart from clarifying what is needed and what you have, resource breakdown structures help identify and group resources in a way that promotes the efficient implementation of resources throughout the project development cycle.

Other benefits of the resource decomposition structure include:

  • Historical archive and forecast of resources allocated and used in completed projects
  • Insight into the number of resources used at any time during the project development cycle
  • A culture of documentation, strong internal systems, and informed decision making
  • Simple collaboration between cross-functional teams sharing resources
  • A single source of truth that holds all information about available, dedicated, and required resources
  • Informative post-production analysis for future project planning
  • The quality of the final product is higher within the budget
  • More accurate budgeting decisions to estimate total project cost
  • Easily identify overlaps and gaps in organizational resources, project requirements, and team needs
  • Direct evaluation of the workload of employees

Who creates the resource breakdown structure and when?

The project manager or resource manager creates the resource breakdown structure, usually with input from team members and leaders. The RBS should be compiled by someone who has access to critical, high-level project details such as budgets, teams, equipment, and software.

The manager creates the RBS at the start of a new project in the planning phase. Resource estimates, allocations, and forecasts become more accurate as the project manager develops more resource breakdown structures for different projects.

Once developed, the RBS should be distributed to project stakeholders so that everyone is clear on the project and understands the costs and requirements.

Examples of resource breakdown structure

To show how useful RBS can be, here’s a simple example of a resource breakdown structure.

A content team’s goal is to create and distribute a new email marketing guide to share information with subscribers. Before the project starts, the Content Manager (Project Manager) compiles an RBS to ensure proper accountability and transparency about the required project resources.

To begin, he categorizes the project’s requirements into columns such as team, tools, time, and location, and fills each column with the necessary resources.

In the “Team” section, he describes the human resources needed to implement this project:

  • Two content writers to handle different parts of the guide
  • A content editor to review and approve the content of the guide
  • A graphic designer to create images for the manual, as well as the cover page
  • An email marketing assistant for designing newsletters, segmenting and targeting the right email lists, and planning campaigns to deliver at the right time.

In the Tools section, he collects the software and tools the team will need to complete the project, including:

  • Email marketing software
  • Work management software
  • Subscription to design tools such as Adobe and Canva
  • Landing page software

Next, he moves to the “Time” section, where he estimates the total time each team member will need to complete their tasks and deliver a satisfactory end product. He predicts the time like this:

  • Submission of first draft by content writers
  • Review by content editor
  • Creating images by the designer
  • Compiled by the publisher
  • Sharing the Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing Assistant

In the Location column, the work location choices differ depending on whether the content manager works with an in-person or remote team. Face-to-face teams may need to reserve conference rooms for brainstorming, review and update meetings. Remote teams are more likely to schedule video conferencing sessions to collaborate and communicate project progress.

This resource breakdown structure example shows just a few of the resource breakdown structure categories. Other categories can include equipment, licenses or certificates, materials, and facilities. Depending on your industry, it’s important to consider and include all the possible resources you’ll need to complete your new projects.

Increase efficiency by turning successful RBS project management documents into resource breakdown structure templates that help you deliver projects faster, keep your team on track, and manage stakeholder engagement.

Pay attention to the resources you need most often and use data from old resource breakdown structures to create unique advantages and increase operational efficiency in your business.

In moments of doubt, remember the broad categories of team, tool, time and place to build a good RBS outline. Once you’ve entered your specific project needs into these categories, you’re well on your way to creating and implementing a solid project plan.

How to write resource parsing structure the right way

1- List your available resources

First, you need to list all your available sources by writing them down in a notebook or plain text. You can make future steps easier by organizing resources into separate categories from the start. Some of the resource breakdown structure categories you should use in your project planning include:

  • Persons
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • the budget
  • Possibilities
  • Milestones

These categories are not completely fixed and you should adjust them according to your business needs. However, they make the initial audit of the company and available resources much faster and easier. Categories that revolve around budgets and deadlines should be given more attention because they can make or break your project.

Remember: the resource breakdown structure is just a shell of your resources. It will only be as useful to project management as the information you gather before writing it.

2- Choose reliable writing tools

After doing this, you need to choose the tool stack that you will use in the future. Your tool stack is an integral part of writing and editing the resource breakdown structure as the project moves along.

Writing tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway Editor are ideal for creating the same vocabulary and terms for your project. It might be a good idea to use Evernote to structure your resource breakdown in writing before converting it to a grid.

As for networks, once you’ve gathered all the information, you can rely on Google Docs and its spreadsheets to create a network of available resources. Similarly, visual-based tools such as Canva can be used to convert RBS into visual presentations for quick reference during project workflow. Finally, sticky notes and a blackboard should also be in your office to allow for free-flowing writing.

3- Sort the resources in a cascade

An easy way to understand what a resource breakdown structure should look like is to imagine a cascade or row of dominoes. The top of your resource chain is reserved for the aforementioned categories that we initially collected data from.

Let’s take manpower as an example. Under Human Resources, you can add the different job titles of your team members, the departments you’ll be working with, or even third-party outsourcing agencies. Once you have gathered the available source information and selected your authoring tool, you can proceed to create the RBS.

Write your resources in a cascade from top to bottom and arrange the information according to its importance to the project. Once you have “Waterfall” written down, it will be easy to track who is working on which part of the project using which resources.

Before presenting the structure to your team, you can fill in any bottlenecks that still exist in the structure. Given that you now have a clear overview of available resources, you can more clearly identify potential project development issues. This is the most realistic and simple practical application of the resource breakdown structure under the conditions of corporate project development.

4- Implement RBS

Implement RBS
Implement RBS

When you write the RBS for your project, you should consult with team members and other executives about possible updates before implementation. While your job as the project lead is to write the structure, you should be sure to ask for other people’s opinions before you start production. Once you’ve finalized the resource breakdown structure, make sure it’s actually used for real-time workflows.

A common mistake that shows up during production is that RBS is used mainly in the planning stages. When production starts, teams often forget to refer to or update the build. Organize a team meeting with everyone involved in the project and discuss the future workflow. You can define SMART goals and track your progress through a project management program such as Trello or Asana alongside RBS. Make sure that the resource breakdown structure is used as much as possible, and the result of your project will be much better.


While writing a proper resource breakdown structure only marks the beginning of project development, it can effectively change the way internal projects are developed. It is a smart, efficient and sustainable resource management model that can easily be scaled and modified depending on your needs.

Before writing, make sure you do a proper audit of available resources and choose the right writing tools for the job before you start. If done right, you can get more done in less time and use fewer resources than ever before, thanks to smart use of resources.

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