Planning Methodology And AWP

Despite all the time and well-intentioned efforts that go into organizing a capital project, it can seem like even the best laid plan just isn’t enough when outcomes still veer off the mark.

The problem? Maybe it wasn’t the right plan to begin with.

Much like choosing the right tool to perform a task on the jobsite, choosing the right planning method to accomplish the desired outcomes can make all the difference.

There are several such methods that contractors and construction managers have relied on for years. Each of them represents a set of practices and processes meant to manage what, when and how of building a structure, while meeting cost, timeline, safety and quality requirements.

Not all of them are suited for today’s heavily invested, highly involved capital projects — if the disproportionate rates of missed completion dates and budget limits are any indication. Is there an effective planning method that is up to the challenge? Yes. It’s called advanced work packaging (AWP). It approaches construction planning far differently than other methods. Here’s what makes this work so well:


Construction must be involved from the beginning

With AWP, timing is everything. So much so that this planning method, unlike others, depends on the construction team being brought into the project during the planning phase; holding off until the conventional execution phase is simply too late.

They’re the ones who answer the question: What will it really take to build the structure out in the field from a design created inside an office? Pulling up a seat at the table alongside engineering and procurement gives construction a much-needed voice to provide input on constructability. Do they foresee issues that could become expensive mistakes? What would be a realistic expectation for scheduling and budget given their added perspective? All this appears in a Path of Construction, a planning document unique to AWP that details how the project will be completed.

This is meant to inform the design process, not replace it, so everyone can collaboratively arrive at a final design that will still meet the owner’s requirements. It fosters exploration of material and design choices at the beginning, with fewer change orders and instances of rework down the road. Construction’s early involvement lays the foundation for AWP to demonstrate its strengths and deliver on measurably improved project outcomes.


AWP’s focus is squarely on productivity

Productivity is all about how — and how well — work is done. Unfortunately, it’s commonly been cited as a reason for poor project outcomes. But it’s not about the effort put in; it’s just reconfiguring that effort. AWP tackles this head on.

This planning method breaks down the work tasks into smaller, more manageable packages in a logical, sequential way that aligns with how the construction process operates, rather than with design as it’s been done in the past.

Each package details what labor, material and equipment resources are needed, when and where. AWP basically streamlines multi-team workflows by aligning construction processes and material deliveries with the planned schedule, enabling better coordination between trades. It’s a careful, concentrated planning approach based on how things have to happen on the jobsite — in other words, the real-world approach.

How do you measure and prove the positive impact of AWP on productivity? Through earned value metrics, specifically schedule performance index (SPI) and cost performance index (CPI). These performance values should remain within their operating ranges determined at the project’s start. Because everything is so carefully defined and accounted for, there are likely to be far fewer alterations to resources, schedules and scope that would otherwise be reflected in sharply skewing performance metrics — especially when compared to similar past projects. What deviations do occur can be more easily identified and adjusted within specific work packages.


All resources are hyper-planned so they’re available when needed

The right people, materials, equipment and information — all at the right place at the right time. Optimizing resource allocation is one of AWP’s signature strengths. And the benefit impacts more than just improved productivity levels.

By breaking down the project into smaller chunks — installation work packages (IWPs) with specified resources — AWP enables the team to flag and eliminate (or at least better manage) potential bottlenecks and time- and money-based constraints far enough in advance, so they have less chance of impeding productivity.

For example, think of how much waste occurs on a construction project. There’s the tangible variety that comes from over-ordering materials resulting from rework, change orders or inaccurately estimated quantities in the planning phase. And then there’s the intangible waste: Downtime as crews wait for late-arriving equipment. Delays from unprepped work areas or transportation hiccups in materials delivery. Lack of timely access to drawings, change orders or material handling specs when and where they’re needed. All of them come with a price tag that impacts a profit margin or ROI.

AWP’s highly efficient planning technique reduces wasted time and materials on jobsites by ensuring all required resources and materials are available before starting the work, eliminating the need for frequent stops and delays. It makes planning from a procurement standpoint that much more refined; only the resources detailed in the IWPs are ordered so they’re ready when needed.


Built-in flexibility accommodates inevitable changes or unexpected hiccups

Despite all the planning and the high level of control, AWP’s path of construction isn’t rigid but rather can be continually refined. That’s one of the ways this planning method works so well for large-scale, complex projects and the modifications they undergo in scope over time. Its responsiveness and flexibility are among the attributes that make AWP an intelligence-based practice, the idea being to always incorporate new or updated information to make it “smarter” throughout the execution phase.

Combining this adaptability with incremental work package development, continuous monitoring of performance metrics and constraint identification delivers higher project predictability that you’re not likely to find in other planning techniques.

Want to learn more about this construction planning method that’s been demonstrating its ability to dramatically improve project outcomes? Schedule a brief discussion about what AWP can do for you.


Sign up for our monthly blog newsletter today and stay up to date on the latest industry news.

Blog Tags