What To Do When You Get Your First AWP Mandate

Your client just told you they’re mandating Advanced Work Packaging on your next project. What should you do?


I’m writing this article because we regularly hear from leaders at capital project organizations who are taking their first steps toward construction-driven project execution because a client — or prospective client — has mandated Advanced Work Packaging (AWP). A new approach to project execution can seem overwhelming at first, especially if your company has been working from a traditional, engineering-driven paradigm for decades.

The recommendations that follow apply to capital project organizations of all sizes, as well as EPC contractors, discipline contractors and any other company or organization impacted by an AWP mandate. While your AWP implementation process will be unique to your company, the starting point and fundamentals are the same for everyone.

Let’s jump in. 


What does “mandating” mean?

In some cases, companies will secure a contract and the client will introduce the Advanced Work Packaging Mandate during the early phases of the project. In other cases, companies will pre-qualify you as a contractor based on whether or not you have the capacity to do Advanced Work Packaging. In both cases, you’ve got a mandate to do AWP on your project. In both cases, you need to make sure that you understand your obligations and are capable of executing in a construction-driven project environment. Here’s how.


1 | Make sure at least one person on your team is certified in AWP

If you only learn one thing from this article, make it this: You must have someone on your team who has been trained and certified in Advanced Work Packaging. Construction-driven project execution is fundamentally different from engineering-driven approaches to construction. A construction-driven project will unfold differently from start to finish. Your obligations will be different. The schedule will be different. The project hierarchy will be different. There will be people in roles you’ve never heard of, and critical deliverables you’ve never seen before. Without a competent person on your team who has been properly trained in AWP, you’ll be singing from the wrong songbook, and everyone will hear. Ideally, this person will become your first Certified AWP Champion.


2 | Use this as an opportunity for your own upgrades and improvement

In embarking on your first construction-driven project, it is helpful to begin with the understanding that AWP is here to stay. Your client is mandating AWP because it has shown great promise in addressing some of the most intransigent problems in our sector, most notably the fact that the vast majority of projects are late and over-budget. At the time of writing, we estimate that AWP is used on projects totaling over $100B globally, and the momentum is only growing. 

Instead of seeing this as a one-off attempt to adopt a new work style for the sake of a single contract, it is useful to instead view this as the first step in your organization’s transition to construction-driven project execution. Rest assured that clients can tell whether you’re ticking a box or transforming your organization!

At the time of writing, we estimate that AWP is used on projects totaling over $100B globally, and the momentum is only growing.


3 | Ask questions

Organizations that are serious about transforming their project execution system will have documentation explaining how AWP will be implemented and what your company will be expected to do. If your client says they’re mandating AWP but doesn’t provide any documentation, ask lots of questions. Some key questions will include: 

  • Is the entire project construction-driven, or just a small portion? 
  • Who is responsible for packaging the work? 
  • Are you reporting based on packages, or the old-fashioned way? 
  • How has the compensation structure changed (if at all)?

You may also want to ask why the organization is implementing AWP. Are they looking to improve productivity and keep costs under control? Do they want to improve safety or standardize processes? When you understand the driving rationale behind the decision to adopt AWP, it will be easier to meet the organization’s expectations.

4 | Understand the implications for your business

Most capital project organizations who transition to Advanced Work Packaging never go back, and I personally believe that all contractors will be using AWP in two or three years’ time. If you refuse to change, or change slowly and grudgingly, you need to be prepared for the possibility that you will no longer be competitive in the sector and will struggle to keep existing contracts and win new ones. I mention this because I’ve been in several boardrooms over the past six months where executives are actively discussing whether existing contractor organizations will be able to make the transition to AWP. This is not a drill: Change is here, and you need to adapt.

5 |  Stop and retool when necessary

Change is challenging for everyone, and when you’re doing AWP for the first time you need to be prepared to stop and retool when necessary. For example, on-site IWP creation is a key part of a successful construction-driven project. If you find that your system for creating and managing packages is faltering, you need to give your team space to stop and retool. Do you have a workforce that is capable of delivering fully resourced IWPs to the install crew? Do they have the skills and resources they need to execute that work? Where are the breakdowns happening? 

Right now, the industry as a whole is transitioning to AWP, and companies who are dedicated to change can reasonably expect Owner organizations to accommodate the need to stop and retool when things aren’t working. But this window won’t be open for long — in a few years, the companies that start today will have all the kinks worked out and Owner companies won’t be giving any more grace. Be the company that starts today. 

If you’re ready to make the leap to construction-driven project execution, Concord® has a suite of tools and services that can help. From our maturity assessment and start-up packages to ready-to-go AWP Manuals and training courses, we have what you need to get started. Contact us today!


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