Appx 01 Four-point Work Package Dancecard



It’s about getting the right things to the right people at the right time to save money and improve productivity

A wizened construction manager says: “if the materials are there, I can build it!”


Materials:  the work package team can put their hands on all of them when needed.  All.  Of.  Them….  When.  Needed.


Design drawings and specifications completely describe the work.   “Issued for Construction” should mean unlikely to change.  Naive designers issue incomplete or unchecked or poorly reviewed work.  Changes cause rework.  How the last 5-10% of the work can suck up 10-20% of the manhours and schedule. It happens!


And nothing happens without properly supervised and motivated workers.  Have them on site when they are needed, give them incentives (pride works, money, too).  Here the rubber meets the road.  Heros emerge.  And maybe you can go from 37% to 90% of the workers time being productive based upon…


…Work package sequencing.  Often based on early “constructability” reviews.  Needs to  choreograph material deliveries, workforce availability, training and supervision, cranes, scaffolding, and the number of other workers scheduled for the geographical area – worker congestion.  That’s what planners are for.  At the overall level, unit level, contractor level, work package level.


Wait.  What’s a work package?

Don’t google it.  Especially don’t google for “work package” images. Argh.

Trust me on this: a work package is most helpfully defined as the work that a typical crew (say 12 – typical range: 4 to 20) related craftsmen can complete in a typical work period (say 5 days -typical  range: a shift on a turnaround, 10 days on a 10/4 work scheduled team, 20 days on a 20/8, etc.).  Well defined and coordinated work packages, properly executed, are typically featured on those projects benchmarked in the top percentages.  Plan ‘em.  Execute ‘em.  Enjoy success.


Note: I like the COAA, who calls this workface planning.  The COAA is the Construction Owners Association of Alberta (Canada).  They have more and  bigger projects in one place  than anywhere else on the face of the globe, I suspect.  They say this:

It’s about getting the right things to the right people at the right time to save money and improve productivity in your large-scale construction projects.

They also say this:

COAA members have identified insufficient planning as a possible contributing factor to cost overruns. In an internal study of a large construction project, crews were observed and the time spent actually building was only 37%. The remaining time was spent waiting for materials and equipment, traveling to the area, taking early breaks, and planning how to do the work. When crews do not have all the necessary tools, equipment, materials, labour, drawings and information, then the productivity will suffer. This is a systems problem and not a labour issue.



A late postscript:  To readers like my son, Justin, who are managing primarily software projects:  be creative.  Just as I have found a software guy,  Frederick Brooks (“The Mythical Manmonth” “Designing for Design”) to be helpful in my concrete and steel work, I suspect that this concept of a work package will resonate with you if you look at “what do my  teams need each week to get their work done”.

Here is a more general version of the tetra guide:

tetra 03
tetra 03 160
Tetra General

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