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PD Certification

The Goal Breakdown Structure (GBS)

The Goal Breakdown Structure (GBS) permits breaking the Business Case (or Project Charter) goals down to more project specific goals and redistributing ROI calculations.
These goals will enable establishing the project milestones. But the real difference between standard milestones and goals from the GBS is that if the project would be finished at any executing moment, all the achieved goals to that moment would be “value” delivered to the business.
This approach also permits redistributing the initial ROI analysis made in the Business Case in all the project milestones. So, it would not be necessary to complete the project in order to start making profits.
As you can see, this view of a project based in getting “value” through the Goal Breakdown Structure (GBS) performs objective-oriented projects, and is opposite to the view of task-oriented projects based only in building a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Also in any case, the WBS should be necessary in the Planning phase.
By doing a breakdown of high-level objectives to low-level objectives, we are building a hierarchical structure of value expected and also a model to tracking value. This will be very helpful when calculating the Earned Value (EV, when using the Earned Value Management method, EVM) or also called Value Achieved (VA, when using the ValueMapping method), during the executing project phase.
With this, we can build a ValueMap, with the idea of assesing the Anticipated Value (AV) of a strategic plan objective (the high-level goals) by meeting all the project objectives needed (low-level objectives) for this business goal.
For example if we continue using the ValueMapping methodology, there are five main values when creating objects in the chain-value that help the organization to meet a business goal:

  • Value Outcome: the usefulness or worth from the transaction or project.
  • Strategic Driver: the focus for resource that leads and directs the impact onthe business.
  • Value Driver: the intangible or tangible assets that assemble around the strategic driver.
  • Action: the specific actions that assemble around a value driver.
  • Value Relationship: a transaction between objects in different ValueMaps to form a chain-value network.

Also there are four main stages to the production of the ValueMap:
  • Stakeholder Needs Assessment where the outcomes are mapped.
  • Strategic Driver Analysis where the main resource drivers are mapped.
  • Value Driver Analysis where the intangible and tangible assets are mapped
  • Action and Responsibility mapping.
In this stage, I recommend to use as reference the “Enterprise Value Map” from Deloitte to make a practical construction of your business project ValueMaps. I provide you two links:
For modeling the Goal Breakdown Structure (GBS), I always use a Mind Map (created with MindManager or FreeMap computer tools).


Now, we don’t have to forget the critical Executing Phase, when value is actually created. Sean Covey (son of Stephen R. Covey, who wrote the famous book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has a book called 4 Disciplines of Execution: Getting Strategy Done.  Sean Covey in his book talks about the need for prioritizing goals in a business, and their importance in achieving results. For achieving a business objective, he defines 4 disciplines:
  • Discipline 1: “Focus on the wildly important” (set clear goals). Develop clear and measurable (SMART) goals that are tied to a specific deadline, and are well understood by all the stakeholders. These goals must link in to the overall business strategy (as we said before, the business strategy is covered in the Business Case or Project Charted).
  • Discipline 2: “Create a compelling scorecard” (measure the goals). Build a compelling scoreboard, reflecting: Where are we now (the As-Is),   Where we want to be (the To-Be), and When we need to be there (the Schedule). It should be visible to all stakeholders to identify if things go off-track, so that corrective actions (or fast-tracking) can be taken.
  • Discipline 3: “Translate lofty goals into specific actions” (break the goals down). Now it’s time to translate lofty goals into specific actions. What must we do to achieve them?.  Sean Covey  said “to achieve goals you’ve never achieved before, you need to start doing things you’ve never done before”.  Here is where the Goal Breakdown Structure (GBS) fits perfectly breaking the goals down to specific actions and Milestones. So the process of breaking goals into specific actions and Milestones is critical to later measuring the ROI.
  • Discipline 4: “Hold each other accountable – all of the time” (get the actions done). We have set goals, broken them down into milestones and actions, and now it is time to measure our project teams against them. Success isn’t just about having good ideas, it is also about their correct execution. Now, we need to measure if we have met the expected ROI of our project planned actions.

Finally, remember that the schedule of the technical project probably will be finished earlier (when these technical activities had been completed), but the actual Business Project will finish when the established milestones in the Goal Breakdown Structure (GBS) are achieved and the ROI of them will be measured. A Project Director (PD) must always have this in mind.

What is your advice about the best way to breakdown your Goals?
Author: angelberniz (All Rights Reserved by the author).
Source: Original Text (based upon first hand knowledge), with references to ValueMapping, EVM, Deloitte and Sean Covey’s book.
Image: © alphaspirit –
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