Owner’s Need to Own AWP

By Josh Girvin, O3 Solutions CEO

“AWP is the Contractor’s Responsibility” is the single greatest misguided thought that is holding our industry back. I want to pull my hair out every time I hear this sacrilege. WorkFace Planning is the contractor’s responsibility. AWP is NOT a construction execution methodology. AWP is a project execution methodology and when done right it involves all of the project stakeholders and is lead by the owner from concept through commissioning.  

You can’t do full AWP if you don’t start early in the project before the contractor is even selectedAWP Best Practices dictate that the early Path of Construction, Planning & Sequencing, Estimating, and Scheduling all require the creation of an AWP Master Index and definition of CWAs and CWPs during the front-end planning. You also can’t do full AWP without including commissioning & startup where the Owner is again involved in the process and therefore involved in AWP. 

Even if you aren’t attempting to do full AWP, during the design and construction phases, the Owner owns constraints whether they realize it or not. Having a robust constraint management process and tool in place that enables coordination across all project stakeholders is AWP 101.  

It is time for owners to stop passing the buck and take a leading role or the industry simply won’t move forward. Leaving it to contractors to voluntarily change hasn’t worked. We have multiple years of stagnant productivity data to prove that.  

Construction productivity has been flat for decades, according to McKinsey research. In manufacturing, by contrast, productivity has nearly doubled over the same period, and continuous improvement has been the norm (see Figure 1 below).

We only need to look to historical safety trends to understand the role of the owners in driving change in our industry. It was after the owners took a stand and mandated consistent planning and reporting of safety as part of the bid process that the industry saw a radical shift (see Figure 2 below). 

 

This isn’t the fault of the contractors. You can’t blame contractors for running their business in a way that allows them to remain competitive. It is the responsibility of the owners to set clear expectations and reward contractors that meet those expectations, so they are able to justify making the investments necessary to improve their systems and processes.  

 

Owners need to take an active role in their AWP deployments by:  

  • Setting the conditions for AWP success from the beginning  
  • Clearly communicating process and data requirements to contractors as part of the bid package 
  • Rewarding AWP preparedness during the bid process 
  • Remaining involved in AWP monitoring and constraint management throughout the entire project 

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