At any time during and between phases, work packages provide supervisors with the information necessary to make the most effective decisions to keep a project on the best track. For example, before the beginning of construction, supervisors are able to evaluate what materials should be ordered, in what format, and when these should be ordered depending on the ordering of work packages. This ensures that no package starts before materials are ready and no materials are sitting unused.
Work packaging is not a new concept. In various forms, construction projects have always divided the work to be performed into smaller portions planned to achieve main objectives including meeting the schedule and budget. Historically, planners have been distant from the workface and lack this proactive process that enables craft workers to perform their work safely, effectively, and efficiently.
This is accomplished by breaking construction work down (by trade) into discrete work packages that completely describe and cover the scope of work for a given project.
This process theoretically promotes the efficient use of available resources and permits the tracking of progress. It is then important to mention that work packaging differs from traditional practice. In fact, work packaging is a more structured and disciplined process for the planning and execution of the work to be performed in the field by preparing for a constraint-free execution as early as project definition.
Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) and WorkFace Planning (WFP) are popular topics in Western Canada. The purpose of this conversation with Petra Polster, currently a senior WorkFace Planning specialist with AECOM, is to discuss major AWP themes and how AWP enhances capital project performance.
Petra is a construction leader with a strong background in field planning, WorkFace Planning, and Advanced Work Packaging. Petra is based in Calgary and has over 10 years experience in the implementation of work packaging techniques in Western Canadian construction projects. Petra, currently a WorkFace Planning Committee member at the Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA), is presently working as a Sr. WorkFace Planning Specialist at AECOM. Throughout her journey as a work packaging specialist in construction capital projects, Petra has contributed to designing work packaging solutions that have been implemented on a variety of project sizes.
AWP is a disciplined approach aiming to improve project productivity and predictability by aligning planning and execution activities throughout the project lifecycle, from project setup to startup and turnover. It is the overall process flow of the development of work packages in a staged, planned and executable process that systematically accounts for engineering, procurement and construction perspectives.
AWP is meant to organize and drive the flow of information during the entire project lifecycle following a work packaging logic that is based on involving the relevant project stakeholders at the relevant time. Today, while more and more resources are being produced to guide project management professionals into using Advanced Work Packaging, there is little known about the challenges experienced by those who tried and the lessons learned that could benefit many projects in various industries.
Why is it important to collect information about implementation challenges?
-To be able to identify the challenges, categorize them and assess their impact
-To allow a continuous improvement of the AWP production system design
-To be able to identify each industry specific characteristics impacting its AWP experience
-To draw lessons learned
Below is a non-exhaustive list of challenges experienced by projects implementing AWP