Planning Package Vs Work Package

Many professionals seem to find it difficult to distinguish between a work package and a Planning package. But it is a simple concept, if understood properly. In order to clearly understand what the Work package and Planning package is, first, you should have a clear understanding of the process of Rolling Wave Planning.

Rolling Wave Planning

It is an iterative planning technique in which, work to be accomplished in the near term is planned in detail, while the future work is planned at a higher level. As the project execution progresses, more information and quality information becomes available for the work that is planned at a higher level. Based on this information, work is planned in detail. Rolling Wave Planning is a form of Progressive elaboration applicable to work packages, planning packages and release planning.

Process of Decomposition

WBS is decomposed at various levels based on the availability of information about the project work to produce a sub-component of a product or service or result. When there is sufficient information to estimate cost and duration of the work with reasonable accuracy, WBS is decomposed till the lowest level (Work Package level). When there is insufficient information to estimate cost and duration of the work with reasonable accuracy, decomposition is stopped there.  Decomposition is only resumed when the information is available to the extent to produce a verifiable sub-component of the product or service or result.

Planning Package

At one stage, we know the details of the work to be done, but the details of the schedule are still not clear. This level of decomposition is known as Planning Package.

At a later point in time, when the details about the schedule become clear, the Planning Package can be decomposed to form Work Package(s).

PMBOK definition of Planning Package“A planning package is a work breakdown structure component below the control account with known work content but without detailed schedule activities.”

PMBOK definition of Work Package“The work defined at the lowest level of the work breakdown structure for which cost and duration can be estimated and managed.” 

Work Package Planning Package
Lowest Level of WBS. It can be the lowest level of WBS when the detailed schedule information is unavailable. We can say it is a stage between the control account and Work Package
The duration and cost of the work can be estimated. Schedule details are unclear, so estimation cannot be made with reasonable accuracy.
Further decomposition of the Work package not possible.
Various activities that constitute a work package are defined later.
When details are available, the Planning package can be decomposed into a work package(s).


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