Work Package: Definition & Example

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  • 0:00 What Is a Work Package?
  • 1:20 Designing Work Packages
  • 2:28 Work Packages Assign…
  • 4:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Carla Denman

Carla has taught college business, student development, and literacy and has a master's degree in business management.

In this lesson, we will define the work package and show examples of how the dynamic relationships among work packages help build project success. We will conclude with a summary and a brief quiz.

What Is a Work Package?

Imagine you work for a family-owned vintage candy company. Over the years, work processes have grown and the company is prosperous.

You find it exciting that the caramel cooker, a 50 gallon copper kettle, pre-dates World War I and still makes fantastic candy. However, not all the tools you use are still doing as well. As often happens, company growth has outpaced the computer technology being used to manage all of the daily operations. So, the board of directors has decided it is high time to update the software and hardware to bring the company into this century with regards to speed and efficiency.

The work breakdown structure is developed by the project manager using the project charter and scope, which define what is going to be accomplished overall. Every project is made up of work that must be divided into manageable pieces, or work packages, which are the building blocks that help us measure progress and control the outcomes of the project. Work packages allow us to build success into our project plans by controlling costs and resources while assigning responsibility and managing risks. Utilizing a work breakdown structure defined into specific work packages will help keep all the pieces of the project on track.

Designing Work Packages

Each work package should be specific enough to allow a high level of time control. The work breakdown structure is typically used to develop a separate project schedule. By creating a diagram of the work packages for the project, you can make sure that all of the work gets done in the right order and is completed at the right time.

Building a diagram of work packages helps project managers to determine which steps in the work process are interdependent, which means they are needed in sequence. This is important because one part of the process may rely on another part of the process. As an example, the candy company cannot install the new software before the computer technology is updated to handle the additional workload of running the new software packages.

Work package design will also give project managers information on which steps in the process are independent, meaning they do not depend on other parts of the project to be completed. In our software project, the work package of creating a digital archive of documents is independent of the work package for testing the new software in the manufacturing facility.

Work Packages Assign Responsibility

At the outset of each project, most project managers must be able to provide precise cost estimates. Breaking the project down into work packages provides more specific cost control measures. These cost control measures are actions the team puts in place to make sure that all money spent on the project is spent appropriately within the scope and budget of the project.

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