Implementing Advanced Work Packaging in a Fast-Track Environment

Discover the value of mitigating the risks to predictability of fast-tracked capital projects

In a perfect world, we would always have the time we need to plan and execute projects in simple sequence at a reasonable pace. But it’s not a perfect world, and we often find ourselves working on fast-tracked projects. Indeed, some go so far as to say that fast-track delivery has become a “standard operating procedure” for construction of industrial projects, and we often see companies fast-tracking projects without even acknowledging this critical and risky shift in project management strategy.

If you find yourself working on a fast-tracked project, this article will help you understand how to adapt your AWP implementation to keep your project predictable, so you can still deliver on-time and on-budget.

Definitions: What is a Fast-Tracked Capital Project?

A fast-tracked capital project is a project where design and construction activities overlap instead of proceeding sequentially, typically in an effort to speed up project delivery. Practically speaking, this means that engineering begins before definition is complete, and procurement and construction begin before engineering is complete.

Fast-tracking is a schedule compression technique that project managers use to shorten the project lifecycle while preserving the existing scope. It is often used in addition to other schedule compression techniques, like allocating additional resources to a project to speed up completion.

The Domino Effect: How Errors Impact Fast-Tracked Projects

The overlap between project phases inherent in fast-tracked projects can significantly increase the risk of error, and when errors do occur, the impact is generally greater. Even small mistakes on a fast-tracked project can have a costly and time-consuming domino effect: one study suggests that the cost associated with a compressed, accelerated or overlapped schedule could increase project cost by between 40 and 50 per cent.

What does this look like in practice? For example, a late geotechnical analysis triggers changes to the project definition, which in turn requires changes to engineering, which has cascading impacts on procurement and construction. Depending on the changes in site definition, the impact on construction can be significant, leading to major rework and skyrocketing costs.

This domino effect is worse on projects that have been fast-tracked quietly and unofficially, meaning that nobody in leadership has acknowledged that normally sequential work is now being done concurrently. This is an increasingly common occurrence: Everyone recognizes that the project is moving faster, and that leadership is placing increased pressure on the company’s systems and people, but the company does not acknowledge that the project has been fast-tracked. The consequences can be dire.

Advanced Work Packaging can provide an effective risk-mitigation process, cushioning the project against the impact of cascading errors.

How AWP Supports Fast-Tracked Projects

At Concord, we regularly hear from companies looking to implement AWP because they know the project is at risk due to overlapping created by fast-tracking. We never advise them to stop fast-tracking — if the business reality is a fast-tracked project, then that’s the reality, and we don’t get involved with the business decision. We do say that Advanced Work Packaging can provide an effective risk-mitigation process, cushioning the project against the impact of cascading errors.

Concord has developed a unique AWP implementation process for fast-tracked projects that focuses on managing complexity at a more granular level. At a high level, the process involves breaking down work into smaller and more defined packages, refining the workflow, and then closely monitoring outcomes. In this way, we are able to identify errors and other challenges much sooner, allowing us to manage the domino effects.

Concord Offers Unrivaled Expertise in Managing Fast-Tracked Projects

Concord’s cohesive, proven approach to fast-track construction-driven capital projects is unmatched in the industry today. Its value is derived from a detailed protocol for risk-mitigation anchored in AWP and Predictability Thinking®. Our implementation system leverages the unique risk-mitigation characteristics of Advanced Work Packaging and pairs them with Predictability Thinking® to deliver results.

If you have a fast-tracked project and you think it might be at risk of running late or over-budget, let’s schedule a call to discuss your projects and how you can mitigate fast tracking effects using Advanced Work Packaging.

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