Advanced Work Packaging as a Construction Best Practice

Intro to AWP 

In August of 2015, the Construction Industry Institute (CII) announced that Advanced Work Packaging (AWP), as a result of the analysis done by CII Research Team 319, was promoted to Best Practice status. Jim Rammell of Wood Group Mustang, chair of RT 319, said he experienced the industry value of AWP through his work on the research team. “AWP provides a disciplined approach that requires the team to plan and align on the path of construction for efficient project execution. Recognizing AWP as a Best Practice will raise the awareness of this tool that can be used to improve the safety, productivity and predictability of capital projects for our industry.”[1]

We at Trestles applaud CII for the extensive research and analysis that ultimately led to Work Packaging being elevated as a Best Practice. I personally felt like there was a lot of confusion as to what a Work Package was and what the benefits were by designing, planning, executing and reporting in a Work Package centric system. CII has helped to create a standard process and implementation guidance, expanding Work Packages to three components; Engineering Work Packages (EWPs), Construction Work Packages (CWPs) and Installed Work Packages (IWPs). The term Workface Planning is the process of removing all of the constraints associated with IWPs. IWPs are a defined scope of work (a set of tasks), with an approximate duration of one week.

With that said, the concept of creating a Work Breakdown Structure with a Work Package being the lowest level of the hierarchy is not new. The Project Management Institute (PMI) within the PMBOK® Guide defines a Work Package as, “The work defined at the lowest level of the work breakdown structure for which cost and duration can be estimated and managed.”

Old Process, New Techniques

Going back to the mid-90s, during my time with TIC, we called them Task Packages. This was a paper system that established boundaries for a specific scope of work. The Task Package included Ids, descriptions, drawings, specifications, safety plan, QA/QC requirements, short interval schedule, etc. Looking back, what we did may not align perfectly with the guidelines that CII puts forth but the purpose was the same. The purpose or desired outcome was to break the work down into a manageable set of tasks and make sure the frontline supervisor and the crew have everything they need to safely complete the work on time, within the budget, per the plans and specifications. Although effective when consistently implemented, this pure paper system was not very efficient.

There are approximately 750,000 contractors in the U.S.[2] and the vast majority of these contractors will never execute a large EPC contract. A lot of what has been written, and the standards and guidelines that have been put forth regarding Work Packaging are directed towards these mega projects.

Trestles Labor Management System (TLMS®), our cloud based mobile field application, is designed to align and support CII’s Advanced Work Packaging IWP and Workface Planning guidelines but meets the needs of any size contractor that desires to improve its planning, scheduling and performance reporting. We would suggest that big jobs are just a bunch of little jobs, and regardless of size of your project, breaking the work down into Work Packages (which is a set of tasks), removing the constraints and creating a short interval schedule that aligns and supports the overall project schedule will pay dividends in the way of improved safety, quality, productivity performance and build integrity into your scheduling process.

Visit to learn more about how Trestles Labor Management System aligns and supports AWP best practices


[2] ¹Dodge Report; Dodge Analytics 2016