Development of an AWP Execution Planning Guide for Projects

RT-390 Topic Summary
RT 390


Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) is a planned, executable process that extends over the breadth of an engineer-procure-construct (EPC) project. AWP heralds a new era of productivity and predictability for projects within the industrial sector. Allied benefits in alignment, quality, and safety are now well understood and observed by practitioners. Many projects have seen successful results and owners as well as provider organizations have adopted AWP as an execution standard.

That being said, some projects struggle to adopt AWP as requirements can vary across owner organizations. Projects involve a variety of participants, and their varying maturity of AWP implementation can also cause problems. In particular, early implementers may realize the benefits from Workface Planning (WFP) in the construction stage but struggle to realize the performance benefits that derive from full AWP adoption. The figure in Key Finding #1 (below) depicts this difference in the results of early and mature implementers: “the Performance Chasm.”

To address this situation, RT-390 provided guidance to construction practitioners who aim to overcome the disparity of observed benefits in AWP projects and to promote the use of AWP as an enterprise-level practice. The team’s report is divided into seven modules to provide targeted guidance and facilitate access:

  • AWP Review and Owner’s Guide: This module captures the fundamental principles of AWP and provides special considerations for construction owners. Topics include “What is AWP and what is not AWP?,” “Contracting quilt,” “Starting with pilots,” and “Onboarding partners.” Start here if you are an early implementer or an owner, or if you need to align your team on AWP fundamentals.
  • Five Handbooks: These modules provide discipline-based guidance for successful AWP execution at the project level: Handbook A – Preliminary Planning Design, Handbook B – Detailed Engineering, Handbook C – Construction Execution, Handbook D – Commissioning and Startup, Handbook E – Procurement. Use them to build or improve your AWP project execution, align and educate the “doers” within each discipline, and adjust the timing of your AWP efforts to optimize project outcomes.

    Each handbook includes a “Scope” section with key inputs and outputs and a “AWP Leading Practices” section that provides guidance in the areas of (1) Process and Implementation Steps, (2) Roles and Resources, (3) Data, Tools, and Technology, (4) Culture, (5) KPIs, and (6) Integration with Existing Practices.

    All handbooks are grounded through an AWP Timeline of key action steps to accelerate the integration of AWP with existing business processes. For instance, Handbook A encompasses all project disciplines and outlines which actionable steps need to be implemented early in the timeline to set up the project for overall success.
  • Enterprise Guide: This module provides the basis for structuring or advancing the AWP program at the enterprise level. This section presents the foundational blocks for enterprise readiness:
    1. Understanding the barriers
    2. Establishing a training program to support knowledge transfer from program to projects
    3. Adjusting the information management and technology infrastructure to support AWP requirements
    4. Evaluating the scalability of AWP projects based on the organization’s maturity and needs.
    This final module also discusses the granular benefits observed by practitioners during early planning and execution. Read this guide to accelerate organizational buy-in and adopt AWP as your baseline delivery framework.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : The Performance Chasm between Early and Mature Implementers

Early implementers often struggle to realize the performance benefits from full AWP implementation. The Final Report 390 aims to guide practitioners as they overcome this performance chasm and strengthen their project- and program-level AWP implementation (FR-390, p. 1-8).

Reference: (FR-390)

2 : Understanding the AWP Benefits in Early Planning

The benefits of AWP have been most pronounced at the work front; however, successful AWP implementation can also yield benefits during the planning stage. RT-390 identified seven key AWP benefits during early planning. The team also surveyed construction industry experts on the benefits that they have observed during early planning in AWP projects. The most commonly observed significant benefit was improved visibility into constraints during Path of Construction (PoC) planning (FR-390, p. A-8).

Reference: (FR-390)

3 : Comparing Changes in Engineering for AWP vs. non-AWP Projects

Aligning AWP and the engineering process can be a barrier for successful AWP, even for mature organizations (as FR-365 showed). RT-390 investigated changes related to the engineering and design process with AWP and explored how the compare with non-AWP projects. According to surveyed industry experts, the need for data integrity is increased in AWP projects to support their coding requirements and model attributes (FR-390, p. B-8).

Reference: (FR-390)

4 : Structuring a Detailed AWP Timeline to Support Successful Project Implementation

The AWP timeline (shown in the figure) highlights the need for early planning. When many actions are shifted earlier, they achieve better integration in terms of identifying stakeholders, aligning work package priorities with the schedule, conveying data from suppliers to the design team, and aligning procurement with on-site need dates (FR-390, p. A-21).

Reference: (FR-390)

5 : Adopting AWP at the Enterprise Level and Promoting Enterprise Readiness

Enterprise-level AWP readiness can be promoted through understanding AWP barriers, implementing the right expertise and training, adjusting the organization’s information management infrastructure, and assessing how to scale AWP to match the organization’s needs.

While they are maturing their AWP programs, organizations need to make sure institutional knowledge is transferred. All projects should follow the guidance provided in the Handbooks for project-level execution. Organizations that have adopted AWP as the “way we do business” have seen significant benefits and aligned AWP with other initiatives for digital transformation (FR-390, p. EG-4).

Reference: (FR-390)

Key Performance Indicators

overall AWP implementation, predictability, improved planning, improved execution, improved alignment, improved IWPs closeout

Research Publications

AWP Execution Planning Guide for Projects and Organizations - FR-390

Publication Date: 09/2023 Type: Final Report Pages: 138 Status: Reference

Presentations from CII Events

Session - Successful AWP Implementation: Essential Execution Guidance

Publication Date: 08/2023 Presenter: Number of Slides: 41 Event Code: AC23