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Using a Work Package in Project Management

Blog: Monday Project Management Blog

Keeping your team on track leads to successful project management, and a work package in a project does just that. Work package in project management’s concept dates back to the early 1960s. The aerospace industry and the Department of Defense developed subsequent work breakdown structures to refine the model, and now it’s an essential part, and the smallest element, of projects.

In this article, we’ll explain the concept of work packages and how your project team can use them to group related tasks to manage larger projects. We will introduce you to project management templates and how you can use template packages on’s user-friendly Work OS.

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What is a work package in project management?

A work package is a collection of related tasks that are part of an overall project. Altogether, the work package represents a defined deliverable or a specific project phase. For example, if you’re building a house, one of the work packages could be the building plan approvals, and another could be the building foundation completions. Each of these deliverables represents project milestones.

Activities within a work package include only those tasks related to achieving that specific work package’s objective or deliverable. Each work package will represent a distinct type of work or project phase performed by different individuals or groups. A crucial characteristic of a work package is its representation of the smallest identifiable deliverable.

A work package is the smallest deliverable within a project’s work breakdown structure

Why is a work package not a separate project?

A work package isn’t a separate project because it represents only one deliverable of many that make up a project. A project is a set of completed deliverables that achieve a specific objective, while a work package represents one small phase or deliverable of that project. In the example above of building a home, the project encompasses all work packages from the initial building concept to include building plan approval, completion of the foundations, home construction, and final home completion.

On its own, a work package achieves only one specific deliverable. A work package is a sub-project of the overall project. By splitting your projects into separate work packages, you help your teams focus on their immediate responsibilities and not lose themselves in too much detail.

What is the best way to manage work packages for projects?

Each work package must have a specific outcome and achieve one or more objectives. You should assign a responsible person for each work package. Limit the scope of a work package to one department, function, or group.

Each work package must be independent of other packages, except that the overall package will be dependent on completing the preceding work package. Pay particular attention to each work package’s scope, as it should be neither too large nor too small. This will help when you estimate resource requirements and costs.

The work package itself consists of a series of linked activities or actions. Clearly describe each activity, allocate responsibilities and, with your team, estimate the resources and time needed to complete the activity. Link each action to the preceding one so you can determine dependencies and know when each activity can start.

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Managing work packages on projects accommodate work packages as individual groups. You’ll find these on the low-level project board in the Advanced Project Management tutorial. When setting up your board, you create a group for each work package. To differentiate between work packages and activities, name each work package as a deliverable, such as “building plan approval.” Then enter the activities required to complete each work package.

Using the timeline column, you can plan your project baseline. The board allows you to set dependencies to link each activity. Add milestones by clicking on a specific date and choosing the “set as milestones” option in the pop-up window. Once you add all your activities, you can view your work package as a Gantt chart, manage workload, and use the low-level project board to track expenses.

While the advanced project management tutorial outlines how you can use projects, you’ll need to set up your own project. The Getting Started tutorial is a good starting point. This will guide you through key topics such as building your first board, using groups, and using templates.

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Related templates

Templates are an easy way to start, saving you time and effort because you don’t need to create boards from scratch. They generally focus on a specific topic of interest, and you can modify templates to suit your needs. You’ll find numerous templates on our template center, including these three project management templates.

Project management plan template

This template follows similar concepts to those used in the Advanced Project Management Tutorial. The Project Management Plan Template is a high-level planning board and allows you to start planning any project from scratch. You can use the template for all types of work, whether you’re building a house, planning an event, or responding to a natural disaster. You can customize this chart to your specific needs by adding items and reordering priorities.

Single project template

The Single Project Template is an excellent way to begin a single project. The template overview allows you to view each work package as well as the overall project. You can view this information in different ways, including a project listing, simple and detailed Gantt charts, and overall project status. Customize columns to suit your needs and use different views such as calendar views, tables, and charts, and automate actions by using built-in automations or adding your own. Use tools to integrate your project with common in-house tools such as Gmail, Google Drive, Excel, and Outlook.

Free DMAIC template

DMAIC is an acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. It’s a data-driven quality management strategy that’s part of the Six Sigma management improvement process. Six Sigma measures and analyzes production line data and uses a statistical approach to reduce the probability of errors and defects. Our DMAIC Template allows you to get right on with process improvement initiatives.

FAQs about work packages in project management

What is the difference between a work package and WBS?

A work package is the smallest part of a work breakdown structure. It represents a single phase or deliverable in a project. A WBS represents an entire project broken down into work packages or deliverables.

How does a planning package differ from a work package?

A project planning package is a work breakdown structure component that focuses on project planning. It represents work that you have not yet planned in detail. It’s an overview and does not include a full list of activities. A work package is different because it’s a detailed list of tasks aligned to achieve a specific deliverable or project milestones. When completed, a planning package can become a work package.

What is scope baseline?

The scope baseline is an approved and controlled document defining the project scope. Typically, the scope baseline includes:

Using work packages in effective project management with

Breaking projects into manageable work packages helps project managers better monitor and manage projects. It’s an improvement over traditional Gantt charts that represent an entire project. By using work packages, you eliminate the clutter of too much detail, allowing project managers to focus on milestones and effectively monitor their progress toward each one.

With projects management software, you take this capability further with a Work OS that’s available to every team member. This feature allows each individual to manage their activities, identify risks, and monitor progress toward achieving work package deliverables. Simple automation techniques and visual dashboards help simplify project management processes and provide real-time project information.

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