Work package

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In project management, a work package (WP) is a subset of a project that can be assigned to a specific part for execution. Because of the similarity, work packages are often misidentified as projects.

It is commonly known that breaking down work into manageable pieces (work packages) is a process that depends on the project. This method can also be referred to as Work Breakdown Structure or WBS, since Work packages are the smallest parts work can be broken down to. Criteria for breaking down work and packaging it are mainly based on geographical area, engineering discipline and then sub-system or time.[1]

Although the structure and content of work packages differ per their hierarchy and type, most of work packages contain a brief statements of Activity Description, Activity Resources of Skill and Expertise, Activity Estimates of Effort and Duration, Activity Schedule, Activity Risks, and Activity Budget. Work Packages are assigned a Work Authorization or Control Account.[2]

In construction project management, there are three types of work packages:[3]

  • Construction Work Packages (CWP) is a unit of the first level of a project's scope breakdown. It defines a logical and manageable division of work within the construction scope.
  • Engineering Work Package (EWP) is an engineering and procurement deliverable that is used to form Construction Work Packages (CWP). The EWP are generally aligned with the construction sequence and priorities.
  • Installation Work Package (IWP), also known as Field Installation Work Package (FIWP), is the deliverable to a construction work crew that enables a crew to perform quality work in a safe, predictable, measurable, and efficient manner. An IWP is defined to be manageable and progressable, typically of limited size such that a crew can complete the work in about a week.

Workface planning[edit]

WorkFace Planning (WFP) is a work packaging model for organizing execution in the field of a construction project. It is about getting the right things to the right people at the right time to save money and improve productivity in large-scale construction projects. The Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA) recognized it as a best practice in 2005. The purpose of the development of WorkFace Planning (WFP) was to overcome the challenges that the Alberta region was facing in executing and construction of its Oil Sands projects. Those challenges are manifesting in cost overruns including in front end planning, design, procurement, organization processes, construction, etc.[4]

The application of WorkFace Planning aims to provide a complete picture for successful field execution based on consistency in developing work packages and removing constraints. When properly implemented, benefits of workface planning include improved project party alignment and collaboration, site paperwork reduced, reduced rework, improved project cost and schedule, improved safety awareness and performance, more time for supervising, decreased supervisor and craft turnover, improved labor productivity, increased reporting accuracy, enhanced turnover and improved client satisfaction.[4]

The process aspect of WFP: Delivering IWPs to the field[edit]

An installation work package (IWP) is the core execution planning deliverable used onsite by the field crew to perform work in alignment with workface planning strategy. An IWP contains the necessary and pertinent documentation supporting workface execution; typically this would include: a work packaging summary, quantity worksheets, safety analysis, drawings, permits, scaffolds, specifications, change documents, model shots, inspection checklists, etc.[4]

The Role of a WorkFace Planner

The guideline is to have a set of all information needed to perform that work package ready before the start of that package. In an IWP, responsibilities for each IWP component (safety, quality, craft supervision etc.) are assigned following a preparatory meeting directed by a focus on work constraints.

Preparing IWPs is based on an iterative process of incorporating communication, constraint checking, validation, and final documentation. IWP lifecycle process consists of five distinct steps:[4]

  • IWP creation
  • Document Control Interface
  • Issuance to the field
  • Control of IWP in the field
  • IWP closeout.

The Organizational Aspect of WFP: The Role of a WorkFace Planner[edit]

During execution, the workface planner provides essential coordination between engineering, procurement and construction personnel, aiming to achieve timely issuance of IWPs that would support construction. WorkFace Planners develop and manage IWPs.

To ensure success in such a coordination intensive role, the Construction Owners Association of Alberta recommends these planners to be engaged at a rate of 1 per General Foreman or 1 per 50 tradespersons. The workface planner is not meant to replace the project manager or the construction manager.[4]

Advanced work packaging[edit]

AWP Process.jpg
Boundary-based Delivery Method

Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) is the overall process flow of all detailed work packages leading to the smallest package which is the installation work package. AWP is a more complete set of work packaging practices than WorkFace Planning. It covers not only construction but also the early stages of the project and adds to the system more control over the breakdown of the project through its lifecycle.[1]

Challenges to make WorkFace Planning successfully implemented are mostly linked to what happens prior to the start of the construction phase of a project. Indeed, engineering deliverables need to be put in a way that is in line with the construction sequence. This is typically not the traditional way for engineering work delivery. An early alignment of deliverables and flow of information was later identified as a pre-requisite for enhanced work packaging system. Research Team RT272 was chartered in 2011 as a joint venture between COAA and Construction Industry Institute (CII) to develop a disciplined approach for workface planning from project conception to project delivery. This research team gave birth to Advanced Work Packaging (AWP), which encompasses workface planning and prepares for it.[5]

Advanced work packaging has the benefit of establishing for a more disciplined way of gathering all needed inputs for a successful completion of installation work packages ready for execution. Proper AWP implementation establishes the right environment for more construction driven front end planning. This goes beyond practices such as constructability reviews through the creation of the opportunity for the construction side to provide input early in the project through the work packaging planning mechanism and recommendations for success. The contractual aspect of advanced work packaging implementation is critical to the success of the process.[5]

While, traditionally, construction projects’ contracts have been designed in accordance with the traditional way of project execution and delivery, a very boundary-based delivery method, work packaging structure can be used as a contracting structure defining delivery but also payment schedules.[6]


The productivity challenge in North America[edit]

Construction projects are increasingly complex and challenging. Labor productivity remains one of the challenging features characterizing the construction industry.

Indeed, compared to other industries, the construction industry suffers from low and stagnating labor productivity rates. About 25% of all construction costs come from field labor, the study of construction labor productivity has captured the attention of several stakeholders in the North-American industry and globally. In an internal study of a large construction project, the Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA) observed crews and found that they spend only 37% of their time actually building; the remaining time was spent waiting for materials and equipment, traveling to the working area, taking breaks and planning how to do the work. A COAA focus group on productivity reviewed these losses in productivity and estimated that up to 25% of the lost time could be recovered through more detailed execution planning, concluding that this is more of a system problem - not a labor issue. This research led to the identification of workface planning as a field execution management process that has the potential of addressing the productivity issue. In 2005, COAA recognized WFP as a best practice.[7][8]

The CII - COAA Research Joint Venture: developing Advanced Work packaging model[edit]

In 2009, the Construction Industry Institute (CII), an American non-profit consortium of more than 100 leading owners, engineers, contractors and supplier firms, initiated a Research Team (RT) aiming to develop an executable model of enhanced work packaging based not only on WorkFace Planning but also on other industry work packaging practices.

In 2011, a research joint venture between The Construction Industry Institute and The Construction Owners Association of Alberta was initiated within the scope of the research team RT 272 to work on more complete vision and practices of work packaging covering advanced phases of a project lifecycle; hence, the new appellation: Advanced Work Packaging (AWP).

As stated in its research summary (RS 272-1), the research joint venture extended, through its second phase “the execution model with implementation guidance in terms of integration flowcharts detailing integration of Advanced Work Packaging with current practices, contractual recommendations in terms of requirements and strategies, functional descriptions for roles and responsibilities, assessment and audit tools, templates to support key documents, and a small example of how Advanced Work Packaging integrates with traditional project controls.” The team published three books containing a comprehensive review of the work packaging model and case studies documenting its benefits and implementation challenges.[8]

External links[edit]

Advanced Work Packaging Institute


  1. ^ a b Hamdi, Olfa (March 20, 2015). "What is Advanced Work Packaging (AWP)?". Advanced Work Packaging Institute. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  2. ^ Joseph W. Weiss, Robert K. Wysocki, 5-phase Project Management (Last accessed 9 November 2009).
  3. ^ Hamdi, Olfa (2013). Advanced Work Packaging from project definition through site execution: driving successful implementation of WorkFace Planning. University of Texas of Austin. p. 44. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Hamdi, Olfa (April 9, 2015). "What does a Workface Planner do?". Advanced Work Packaging Institute. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Hamdi, Olfa (April 18, 2015). "AWP Implementation Challenges". Advanced Work Packaging Institute. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  6. ^ Hamdi, Olfa (2013). Advanced Work Packaging from Project Definition through Site Execution: Driving Successful Implementation of WorkFace Planning. University of Texas at Austin. pp. 45–46. 
  7. ^ "About Advanced Work Packaging (AWP)". Construction Owners Association of Alberta. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Hamdi, Olfa (April 11, 2015). "History of AWP and WFP Research". Advanced Work Packaging Institute. Retrieved April 20, 2015.