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PMP Exam Prep – Difference between Planning Package and Work Package

PMP Exam Prep – Difference between Planning Package and Work Package
Recently, as per the feedback from some of the folks who attempted the PMP Certification (offcourse they passed, we maintain a 100% pass rate), indicated that there were questions around Work Package and Planning Package. PMP Certification and the exam is a streaming software and it is important to understand that knowing all the concepts related to WBS is critical as there will be some questions form this concept.
In one of my recent session at Arup and also at Education Edge, there were some questions asked difference between Work Package and Planning Package. As a part of the PMP Exam Prep, it is not always possible to decipher each and everything. However as coaches it remains our responsibility to find other mechanisms to communicate information. So I have put together a little brief about differences between the Planning Package and Work Package.
Before we get into the difference between the Planning Package and Work Package it is important to understand that both the Planning Package and Work Package are components of Work Break Down Structure. Planning package is a components that is below the Control Account and above the Work Package. Let’s first understand what does PMBOK guide state about the WBS.

“A hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work to be carried out by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverable. Each descending level of the WBS represents an increasingly detailed definition of the project work.”

Planning Package- A work breakdown structure component below the control account with known work content but without detailed schedule activities. The estimation of schedule and cost at this point will not lead to desired level of accuracy and hence is not done here. Planning Package is work decomposition with may be limited information. A classic form of progressive elaboration.

Work Package- The work defined at the lowest level of the work breakdown structure for which cost and duration can be estimated and managed. Important Point here is schedule and duration estimate are managed as this level..
So the lowest level of WBS is known as Work Package where decomposition is performed to the level where cost and duration could be estimated and represent a verifiable component of product, service or result.
While for the components where details are not clear to the extent to produce verifiable sub-component of product, service or result, we leave the decomposition further. Here, we do know the work content but detailed schedule activities are not possible to recognize – This level of decomposition is known as Planning Package. At later point of time when things become clearer, the planning package may get decomposed in work package(s).
A planning package may be converted to a work package when the lowest-level details of the work are defined, budgeted, and scheduled. Individual work packages are the building blocks of all project deliverable and form the basis by which the project is monitored, measured, and assessed.

So Work Package and Planning Package are different if following ways:
Work Package
It’s a lowest level element of work breakdown structure, further decomposition will not be done beyond this level

Planning Package
It’s also a lowest element at a given point of time but at later stage it will get decomposed into work packages
Planning Packages are decomposed into work package or they get converted into work package when we get more visibility of the work, planning package will not have activities under them

Key to immortality is to live our life that is worth remembering – Bruce Lee