Building the PRINCE2 Work Package Specialist ProductsBuilding the PRINCE2 Work Package Specialist Products – Part 2

The PRINCE2 Work Package – unpacked …continued

Joint agreements

These are the agreements setting down the resource and timescales for delivery of the products within the Work Package. The Team Manager must then manage the work to deliver it within these limits.


This is a plus and minus variation on late targets, because almost nothing ever goes exactly to plan!

Placing a plus and minus tolerance on some of these delivery requirements, notably time and cost, often makes sense. If tolerances are set to zero, then the smallest deviation needs to be escalated upwards causing an increase in bureaucracy, cost and time.

At the other extreme, if wide latitudes are given for the requirements of a product, then once complete it may be unacceptable to the customer or users, and again extra to spent some time will be used for rework.

It makes sense therefore to set tolerances within the “goldilocks zone” – neither too small nor too large that just right…


The constraints section sets down anything that affects how the Team Manager and the team carries out the Work Package. In some project environments, you may have security considerations that affect, for example who can enter certain restricted areas and the time-frames when this is permitted.

Another example is if building works and taking place, limits may be placed on when builders can carry out more easy work so that the work does not interrupt the operational functioning of the business.

Reporting arrangements

Under the heading “reporting arrangements”, the PRINCE2 Manual refers to the frequency and content of Checkpoint Reports, but there may be other information required.

For example, you may specify the frequency and content of these progress reports in the Work Package and not within the Communication Management Strategy document.

Being able to adjust the content and frequency of a checkpoint report between one Work Package and another is very useful. In a very high risk Work Package, the Project Manager may require checkpoint reports every two days.

Whereas a less critical Work Package my only need a Checkpoint Report once a week. But take care here, as this heading talks about reporting arrangements and this will normally go beyond just discussing Checkpoint Reports.

Other reporting may be needed over and above the progress reports. For example, financial reporting covering when orders are being placed on what money is being committed within a financial year.

Health and safety procedures may dictate daily reports to confirm such things as fire exits or safety equipment have been checked every day.

Problem handling and escalation

If a Work Package tolerance is going to be exceeded, this is normally reported or escalated using an issue – not by issuing an exception report which is only done by the Project Manager.
However, if the Project Manager wants the Team Manager to use a different procedure, this is where such a procedure would be stated.

Extracts or references

This refers to reference is relevant to other documents, for example security requirements or safety requirements for this type of work.

More common is that this section includes project related information and two management products:

Stage plan extract

It is usually simpler for the Project Manager to give the Team Manager a copy of the whole stage plan rather than just an extract. But they may be reasons why that would not be appropriate.

As an example, here, parts of the stage plan may be confidential, or share with the Team Manager cost or pricing information. In such a case then sending sections of the stage plan makes more sense.

Where a third party is being used to execute the Work Package, then the relevant parts of the stage plan may have been created by the third-party themselves in consultation with the Project Manager of course.

In which case, only milestone information would be needed. A powerful PRINCE2 document that can be used here is the Product Checklist.

As each product is completed, which means that it has been quality-checked and signed off, the delivery dates are noted on the Product Checklist and the milestone related to that. In effect, the third-party Team Manager (who may be their Project Manager), has pre-advised the Project Manager of when to expect the completed products.

PRINCE2 Product Descriptions

PRINCE2 uses the technique of product based planning, and part of that planning is to write a Product Description to define every deliverable or products to be created within this stage, and hence this Work Package.

The Product Description describes the product together with any quality criteria it must satisfy and details of how to quality check the product. The Work Package may contain more than one product, and hence more than one Product Description will be included within this section.

In these days of electronic documents, the Work Package and the Product Descriptions, and any relevant plans may simply be a collection of files such as PDF documents.

Approval method

This defines who can approve the products within the Work Package often they have been built and tested. Sign-off is normally very simple, but can involve things like formal acceptance is and even legal acceptance as laid down within a contract.

The section also covers how the completed products in the Work Package are to be delivered and in some cases the Team Manager can simply hand them back physically or electronically to the Project Manager.

The product may need to be returned in a different way such as into an automated configuration management version control system or by delivering direct to a final location such as a customer site.

The delivery of some products may mean installing them and setting them up so that they are operational. In any case, the Project Manager needs to be notified that the product or products included in the Work Package are complete and delivered.

You remember that project communications do not have to be complex. The Team Managers can notify Work Package completion by email or even phone calls. To not make formal communications when simpler and more effective methods are available.

So what next? I’m betting that you will want to pass your PRINCE2 exams at your first try, as well as get the best training your can – so Grab my PRINCE2 Primer and Jump on over HERE!

About the Author Dave Litten

David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of project-related downloadable video training products under the Primer and Projex Academy brand names. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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