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What Is a Work Package?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A work package is a component within a project that can easily be assigned to a specific member or group of members on the project team for processing and completion. From this perspective, it is possible to define a work package as being a smaller project that is part of a larger project. Within the scope of the larger project, several different subsidiary or smaller projects or packages may be allocated to team members who then focus their energies on completing those tasks before the due dates put in place as part of the project management process.

The concept behind the work package is to ensure that specific components of the project are completed according to a schedule. At its best, this approach attempts to match the talents and abilities of each project team member with the necessary tasks, a strategy that helps to increase the potential of completing the essential tasks in a manner that is both timely and logical. When assigned in a specific sequence with delivery dates that are also arranged according to a pattern, the ability to assess progress of the project is considerably easier.

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While the exact composition of a work package will vary based on the nature of the project, most will contain a select group of components and specifications. The team member or members assigned to the package will be given specific starting and ending dates to manage the tasks included in the package. Descriptions of the tasks assigned as part of the work package are also provided, including advice on any resources that may aid in the completion of those tasks. Each package is often assigned a specific type of accounting number, known as a cost center. The cost centers make it easier to track the expenses associated with the overall project, making sure that the cost remains within the budgeted amount. The configuration of a cost center may include the project number along with an alpha-numeric sequence that is unique for each work project, an approach that further helps to keep the accounting for costs accurate.

Several benefits can arise from the use of a work package approach to a project. Assigning specific tasks or groups of tasks to the right team members increases the chances of keeping the project on target for being completed within the allowed time frame. Making specific individuals accountable for the completion of those tasks can also pave the way for cultivating leadership skills among the team members, which in turn allows for the development of the employees. Team members can also feel more connected to a project if they are assigned a work package, since their efforts will have a direct effect on the outcome of the project. When this is the case, the members are likely to feel a greater degree of loyalty to both the project and the team, which can come in handy if unanticipated complications should arise at any point during the life of the project.

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