Edward Carroll's Blog On Projects, has a post about Work Packages in Prince2. This is the first I've heard of Work Packages outside out Earned Value Management System description. The EVMS System Description of the guide describing how programs are managed at the program planning and controls level. Here's a sample of the instructions provides for Earned Value based programs.
The Work Package appears as the bottom of the Integrated Master Schedule in the majority of programs. It is the Work Package that is "on baseline," rather than individual tasks. There are several reasons for this:
- The Work Package usually has a duration of less the 60 days. This depends on the System Description, but the 60 days is so the planned completion of the work crosses only one accounting period. This answers the question How long are you willing to wait before you find out you're late? The answer 60 calendar days. This sounds long for small software projects, but it's VERY short for large defense and space programs running 5 to 7 years.
- The Work Package has ONE and only ONE deliverable. This deliverable can be an intermediate outcome for the entire program. This removes all the blather and red herrings of uninformed agilest about the defunct Water Fall process in Big Projects. Work Package outcomes are close stories. They can be partial completions of work - these are 5 to 7 years programs, so it'd be hard to produce fully formed outcomes in a single cycle.
- The Work Package "exit Criteria" is the Accomplishment Criteria in the Integrated Master Plan. Here's some background on the IMP/IMS paradigm. IT and software development programs would be well served to look through the guidance for defense and space software intensive programs - to see that Scrum, iteration, incremental, test driven design and other attributes are in place and used everyday. That quote - What has been will be again, that has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. - Ecclesiastes 1:. Yea that quote, it's true in program management as well.
- The Work Package is owned by the "work package owner." This person is singularly accountable for delivery the outcomes from the Work Package. The Work Package can have a team, they can be organized in any why needed to get the work done. But there is only one person ACCOUNTABLE for the results - the Work Package Manager.
- Work Packages live in Control Accounts (the intersection between the WBS and the Organization Breakdown Structure (OBS). The Control Account Manager (CAM) is singularly ACCOUNTABLE for the progress to plan of the Control Account. The notion of shared responsibility and accountability works nice in theory or on small self contained software development projects. On mission critical programs is does not.
In the whole scheme of things, here's where the work packages live...