The Role of the Project Manager on an AWP Project

Five simple steps that project managers can take to get their AWP projects off to a strong start

A project manager (PM) is one of the most important people on a capital project team. According to some industry estimates, turnover in the PM’s office at any point in the project lifecycle can increase total installed cost by 5% or more, regardless of the project development system in use. On a $1 billion project, that’s $50 million — not chump change.

The work of the PM is even more critical to project success on a construction-driven project applying the principles and systems of Advanced Work Packaging (AWP). The skilled application of AWP will lower risk and improve results, however, if the PM on an AWP project is not trained in and committed to construction-driven implementation, the project will fail.

This is true despite the fact that project managers don’t do the actual work involved in Advanced Work Packaging. Project managers are not expected to create Construction Work Packages or Installation Work Packages; they are not responsible for procurement, data, or document control. However, they are accountable for daily activities related to key deliverables, and for ensuring that each member of the team is executing their responsibilities in accordance with the principles of construction-driven project management. When a team fails to apply the principles and systems of Advanced Work Packaging, that’s the project manager’s problem.

This article is for project managers who are embarking on a construction-driven, Advanced Work Packaging project. Below, we offer five simple steps for preparing and executing an AWP project with skill and confidence.


1 | Don’t Ignore It

If your leadership team has asked you to implement Advanced Work Packaging, don’t ignore them. I’ve put this recommendation first because I’ve been astonished by the number of project managers who simply ignore instructions to implement AWP and proceed with the traditional method of delivering projects.

I’m not certain that I understand this entirely, but I suspect it’s due in part to the fact that many project managers assume that AWP is one best practice among many, a tool in the project management toolbox, and that its implementation is the sole domain of the Workface Planner. This could not be further from the truth. AWP is a comprehensive project delivery system rooted in a fundamental paradigm shift from an engineering-driven approach to a construction-driven approach. The implications of this shift are far-reaching and touch every role on the project.

If you’re not trained in AWP, you cannot provide the support and accountability your team needs to execute AWP effectively. Which leads me to the next point.

AWP is a comprehensive project delivery system rooted in a fundamental paradigm shift to a construction-driven approach.

2 | Get Certified

Even though you’re not the one doing the work, you still need to get certified. In fact, you will probably benefit from certification more than anyone else on your team. This is because you’re responsible for creating a project culture and system in which the entire team is able to execute with a construction-driven mindset; you need to know how AWP impacts the roles and responsibilities of everyone on your team. Getting certified in Advanced Work Packaging is one of the most powerful ways for capital project managers to distinguish themselves and ensure success in their chosen endeavors.

3 | Pick your AWP Champion

Once you’ve completed your AWP certification, you’ll understand the role and value of an AWP Champion. For now, suffice it to say that the AWP Champion is a leader dedicated entirely to supporting Advanced Work Packaging implementation at a capital project organization. AWP Champions need a deep, technical understanding of AWP systems and processes, and must be intimately familiar with AWP roles and responsibilities. Concord® offers an AWP Champion Certification that can help you identify the people on your team who are properly trained for this critical role.

4 | Budget for Training

There is no more efficient way to get your team up to speed than a robust training engagement. Without question your in-house team must be trained in Advanced Work Packaging before you begin, and many of our clients also mandate that their contractor teams be trained as well. There are several reasons to invest in training. First and foremost, training will help your team adopt the right mindset. The move from engineering-driven execution to construction-driven execution is a significant paradigm shift for many professionals, and it’s important that they understand why AWP works better than traditional approaches. Second, it is important that team members understand how AWP works as a whole, and how their role fits in. Third, they need to acquire the skills needed for their unique roles. Yes, you will need to budget for training. You can make this investment with confidence, knowing that well-trained people are your most important asset in AWP success.

5 | Pay Special Attention to Culture and Respect for Process

A project manager sets the tone for the way the team is working. If you establish a construction-driven culture that values predictability and candor, you will be able to quickly identify and address barriers to change. You can do this in part by training your team, by requiring that they adhere to standard AWP procedures and protocols, and by hosting scheduled alignment workshops to gain clarity around your Path of Construction, workflow, scheduling and more. If you’re a project manager who has been tasked with implementing Advanced Work Packaging on a project, Concord® can help. Contact us today!

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