Work Packages - Essential Rules
A Work Package is a generic term describing a unit of work at the lowest developed
level of the relevant part of the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The distinction
is made between the lowest developed level and the lowest possible level, because
at any given time not all work packages will be classified at the same level.
In other words, a work package is not a distinct level in the WBS.
To be effective, work packages should be controlled by the following rules.
Rule 1: A work package must represent a unit of work at a level where
work is performed.
Rule 2: It must be clearly distinguishable from all other work packages.
Rule 3: It should have scheduled start and completion dates. Rule 4:
It should have a budget.
Rule 5: Its size and duration should be limited to relatively short
spans of time.
Rule 6: It must integrate with other work packages and schedules.
Rule 7: It must represent a level at which actual costs can be collected
Note, however, that a project should not be broken down to too great an extent.
If some work packages are too small, unnecessary administrative effort will be
expended in maintaining the information flow. This suggests some additional rules
governing work packages:
Rule 8: On small projects the following "test of reasonableness"
A work package should at least be large enough to constitute a scope of work
that could be competitively bid and contracted for by itself.
Rule 9: On large, multi-million dollar projects design work packages
should not be less than, say, 300 man-hours and two months in duration. For construction,
a minimum work package value of, say, 0.1 percent is a good rule of thumb.
A number of work packages may be assembled into a contract package for procurement
purposes. Within such a contract, the identity of the individual work packages
should be maintained for control purposes. However, to be consistent with the
Work Package definition, the following further rule must be applied:
Rule 10: The same work package must not appear in more than one contract.
If this is likely to happen, the affected work package should be subdivided,
and the respective parts separately defined and coded.