Concord® Fundamentals: The Path Of Construction

Path of construction fundamentals

A straightforward guide to this critical component of modern, predictable capital project management

The capital project construction industry is in transition, and there is a great deal of confusion around the definition and purpose of one key element of modern capital project management — the Path Of Construction. This short guide is intended to resolve this confusion and to serve as a quick-reference guide for new and established AWP and Predictability practitioners alike.

First, let’s dispel two stubborn rumours. A modern Path of Construction document is not a reference to constructability. While constructability analysis and reviews are important, they are entirely different from a Path of Construction, or POC. A Construction Management Plan is also important, but it is not a POC.

What Is A Path Of Construction?

A Path of Construction is a document that explains how you are going to build your capital project in the field, and how engineering and procurement deliverables will support that effort in a timely fashion. In Advanced Work Packaging terms, the POC is the step-by-step guide to your construction delivery strategy, outlining the sequencing of your Construction Work Areas and Construction Work Packages. The POC is developed very early in a project’s front-end definition phase.

The POC is necessary because it is the only formal opportunity that a project team will have to align everybody around the construction-driven imperative, from procurement and engineering all the way to construction. The Path of Construction is like the skeleton of a project; without it, the entire operation is much more likely to collapse in upon itself.

When Concord® started working with companies to implement Advanced Work Packaging, we quickly discovered that most companies do not implement a Path of Construction as part of their primary deliverables. We made it part of our mission to get an operational Path of Construction in place with all of our clients. Here’s why.

1 | The Power Of Process

The process of establishing a Path of Construction is an important part of aligning a team around a construction-driven approach to predictable capital project delivery. We aim for an interactive, collaborative process that brings engineering, procurement and construction together. These sessions must be led by project and engineering managers as well as construction leaders. Indeed, the failure to bring construction leaders into these conversations is a seminal mistake — one of six major signs you’ve lost your way on the Path of Construction. On any project over $20 million, you will need multiple sessions to develop a high-quality Path of Construction. This investment will pay dividends throughout the project life cycle.

2 | An Improved Constraints Analysis

A solid analysis of constraints is a pre-requisite for an effective Path of Construction, and so the preparation of a POC will, in effect, force a more comprehensive constraints analysis. This means that a project team must review all constraints associated with the project — material, procurement, engineering, site conditions, etc. — in order to prepare a strong POC. The benefits of a fulsome constraints analysis go well beyond the creation of a POC, as any seasoned capital project manager will tell you.

3 | Enhances Assurance For Owner And EPC Companies

The final Path of Construction document itself will guide the work of everyone on the project, and it will also become one of the deliverables that an Owner assurance team considers as part of the  independent review requirements before the Full Investment Decision (FID) is made. Owners review the scope, risk register and staffing, but the POC is the only document that shows that the team has considered how they will actually construct the facility and how all the other disciplines will feed construction with the right info at the right time. It is an invaluable tool. 

Connecting People For Predictable Projects

We’ve seen great success where companies and teams invest time and capital in the creation of a POC, because the document provides a touchstone throughout the project life cycle and translates the same execution sequence into everybody’s language. For example, when teams experience problems in the creation of packages — a common hurdle — the POC provides assurance that the project will continue apace. It’s an awareness upgrade. 

The process of establishing a POC also dramatically improves collaboration. It provides an opportunity to discuss issues that don’t normally get discussed during early phases of the capital construction process. For example, the development of a POC will often force discussion between construction and Operations, so that Operations teams better understand the impact that their requests have on construction. You cannot underestimate the value of these person-to-person connections in improving overall project predictability.

If you’re ready to leverage the power of a Path of Construction on your next project, Concord® can help facilitate and train you on the whole process. Click here to contact us today.

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