Labor Productivity improvement in Construction projects using WBS & OBS Integration


By Essam Lotffy

United Arab Emirates


Abu Dhabi is one of the cities in GCC where Construction field is booming very fast. This technical paper is intended to show the effects of labor productivity on construction projects profits, the factors which result in productivity loss and how to improve the productivity using WBS & OBS framework. The author seeks to illustrate how lost productivity will affect direct labor cost which may result in reducing project profits by using Earned Value management (Accomplished man-hours). Upon applying earned value calculations the negative deviation from planned man-hours will be analyzed along with root cause of productivity loss and how it may affect the direct labor cost. Hence establish WBS & OBS integration matrix to recover this loss. Examples and figures used in this report are adopted from an on-going construction project within Abu Dhabi city and estimated productivity rates are limited to this project only. The results of this study will show the effect of establishing WBS & OBS integration matrix to monitor the project performance and improve the labor productivity by assigning works to appropriate organizational units using right combination between responsibility assignments’ matrix and organizational breakdown structure by identifying the individual responsibility for performing the work.


Labor productivity is one of the most vital challenge during construction projects life cycle that concerns project managers, it was noticed that most of project managers can’t achieve neither planned labor productivity nor their organization strategic plans in this regard. Failure in achieving required or planned labor productivity may affect the direct labor cost and incurred huge losses to the project. In most of construction projects if the standard and or planned productivity rates are compared to actual accumulative accomplished productivity it may shows that the actual productivity is less than planned due to many circumstances’ illustrated later in this technical paper, which means that the actual manpower used to accomplished specific task is greater than the planned that should be used for the same task and this may escalate the labor direct cost and may affect the planned budget of the project, this can be cleared if simple Earned Value management is applied which will show that the project till specific period of its life cycle is over budget.

This difference of labor productivity may be because of lack of supervision and/or unavailability of foundation to assign work to appropriate organizational units to ensure right combination between project works and responsibility assignment matrix and organizational breakdown structure. Hereinafter this technical paper’s goal is to show how to achieve the labor productivity improvement using proper methodology, to analyze the weakness of labor productivity and how to improve it as well. In this technical paper the actual accomplished labor productivity will be compared to standard and/or planned productivity rates to analyze the deviation and its reasons, then study the effect of using WBS & OBS integration matrix to ensure that each work package will have a single point of responsibility. This will be used as main objective for controlling direct labor cost and to identify the individual responsibilities for performing the work to monitor the project performance.


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About the Author

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Abu Dhaby, UAE

Essam Lotffy is a Construction Manager-MEP at Trojan general contracting in Abu Dhabi, UAE. He received his BSc. degree in Electrical Engineering (Major) and Power Distribution (Minor) through Zagazig University, Zagazig, Egypt in 2001. Essam pursued and achieved his certificates in Project Management (PMP®) from PMI-USA in 2013, and certificate in Cost Management (CCP®) from AACE International in june-2014. He has 13 years of extensive hands on experience in various aspects of projects and project management within maintenance, power distribution networks monitoring and supervision and construction projects as well.

During his employment tenure with his past employers Suez Canal Electrical Distribution Company, United Engineering & Trading Company – ENTRACO, and TROJAN General Contracting, he has successfully managed various projects, in addition enhancing the process capabilities and organization performance as well. Essam Lotffy is actively pursuing potential opportunities in the project management field, where a room of growth and opportunities for advancement exists. He can be contacted at [email protected].