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Designed to help those that are preparing to take the PMP or CAPM Certification Exam, each post within this series presents a comparison of common concepts that appear on the PMP and CAPM exams.
Work Package vs Activity
The terms “work package” and “activity” are often used interchangeably, although on the exam, they are very distinct concepts and should not be confused.
The work package level is the lowest level of a work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS is developed during the “Create WBS” planning / scope process. The WBS level is achieved when the work can be accurately estimated (both cost and duration) and can be managed by one individual: the work package owner.
Although the work package can be managed by one person, the actual work within the work package (the activities) may be completed by multiple individuals.
It may be helpful to correlate “work package” to “scope”.
The work packages are decomposed into activities (or “schedule activities) to create the activity list. The activity list will then be used to develop the project schedule.
An activity has an expected duration. If the event has no duration, it is considered a milestone. Activities also consume budget and/or resources and are generally named in a verb-noun format.
You will notice that four of the five time planning processes have the word “activity” in their name (define activities, sequence activities, estimate activity resources, and estimate activity durations).
It may helpful to correlate “activity” to “time”.
I recently managed my daughter’s wedding. Given that she and her fiancée were both deployed with the military, it definitely required a lot of project management!
One of the work packages identified was catering management.
Within that work package, my activities identified were: interview caterers, check references, execute contract, determine final headcount, select linen package, issue payment, and provide feedback.
A work package is the lowest level of a WBS. You know you have arrived at the work package level when the work involved can be accurately estimated and managed by one person.
The work package can then be decomposed into activities for inclusion on the project schedule. Activities may also be called “schedule activities” or “tasks”.
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