Case Study: Assessment of WFP Procedures and Recommendations

Project Overview

Fort McMurray, Alberta
Approximate TIC $1.8 Billion
Dec 10 2013

Assessment Deliverables

  1. A review of the general construction contractor’s WFP Procedure highlighting its strengths and weaknesses.
  2. A summary of the findings obtained during the interviews of the general construction contractor, site contractors and other project personnel including Owner personnel.
  3. A summary of the comparison of the General Construction Contractor’s WFP Procedures and the COAA Workface Planning Guideline including an assessment of relevance of the differences.
  4. A summary of any recommendations to make the current WFP procedures more effective and robust.

A review of the general construction contractor’s WFP Procedure highlighting its strengths and weaknesses.

The Construction Contractor procedure is developed from the Last Planner Concept. The original thesis is from Dr. Glen Ballard and identifies the Foreman as the Last Planner. The concept is based upon the methodology of:

Can: Can the work be executed – materials, prerequisites, documents, access etc.
Should: Is the work happening in the right sequence?
Will: develop plans that make it happen

The concept is good but the application is flawed. The process calls for the Foreman to develop plans based upon what should happen (derived from the schedule) and then they spend their time removing constraints to prove that it can happen.

During a previous project this process was applied across the 500+ foremen and after 18 months was abandoned because it was not practical to pull the foremen from the field for the long periods of time that were required to produce plans. The Foremen also lacked the access to data that would allow them to remove constraints so the plans that they created were typically not executed as they were planned.

The hybrid system that was developed to satisfy the project’s planning requirements was to supply one foreman who became a full-time planner and he would develop plans for 5 others.

This application became one of the study groups for COAA that led to the identification of the model for Workface Planning. The procedure itself is ambiguous and suggestive, which means that it is subject to interpretation and is difficult to audit.

The process is centered on the idea that the creation of Field Installation Work Packages is a function of Project controls and the Construction Superintendent is expected to execute work based upon detailed plans created from the schedule. The industry has proven many times that this is not effective. The proven methodology is that the Planner reports directly to the Superintendent and that they create plans that are based upon the Superintendents execution strategy.The content or the development process of the FIWPs is not covered in the procedure and there is only a vague reference to the concept that the Workface Planner should build them.

The content or the development process of the FIWPs is not covered in the procedure and there is only a vague reference to the concept that the Workface Planner should build them.

The ideal procedure would identify: Who, Where, When and How FIWPs are created and then identify the process for tracking their execution (Schedule and Earned Value). These are not covered in the procedure.In

In summary, the procedure is not a tool that could be used to establish the process or be used to gauge its effectiveness. It only satisfies the need to have a procedure.

A summary of the findings obtained during the interviews of the general construction contractor, site contractors and other project personnel including Owner personnel.

The following pages are the culmination of 54 interviews conducted over 7 days on Project – G. The Stakeholders interviewed ranged from senior project managers to craft workers on both day shift and night shift across all contractors. The interviewers have witnessed hard copy examples of FIWPs, schedules and other project documents in both the field and office environments. With the exception of the Construction Contractor Earned Value system (refused access), every other department was represented and cooperated in the interview process.

The scorecard is derived from the original COAA scorecard that was developed to support the assessment of Workface Planning applications.The ideal use of the findings

The ideal use of the findings are to build upon the strengths of the processes that are working well and to fill the gaps in the processes that have opportunities for growth. This is based upon the premise that scoring well in each of the project areas will identify a robust application of Workface Planning that will lead to predictable project results.

Work Face Planning Scorecard

Process: This review tool has been developed to support the evaluation of project planning and execution in preparation for the application of Workface Planning.

Objective: The process of capturing a project’s planning and execution processes, based upon their alignment with Workface Planning fundamentals, will establish a starting point for the development of Workface Planning integration.


  • The Reviewer must have an overall understanding of Workface Planning and the contribution that each section of the scorecard contributes to the whole process.
  • The Reviewer will develop a plan for a series of ‘key personnel’ interviews with support from the Project Manager.
  • The interviews will address each section of the scorecard and be restricted to one hour each.
  • The Project Manager will ensure that each Stakeholder group provides full cooperation by making their employees available for interviews, with supporting documentation.


  • The Reviewer will establish the intent of the scorecard with each interviewee as a process that will identify gaps and opportunities for improvement through alignment with the fundamentals of Workface Planning.
  • The Reviewer will then ask the interviewee to describe their current planning and execution processes relative to the questions on the scorecard. The Reviewer may ask for copies of supporting documentation.
  • Each interviewee will also be asked for their optimization suggestions.
  • The Reviewer will record actions or efforts that are worthy of recognition.


The Reviewer will record highlights from the interviews and suggestions from the interviewees. When the scorecard is complete, the Reviewer will summarize the report to formulate an overall score as a % of the attainable. Then add the suggestions proposed by the interviewees and a list of recommendations that would align the existing processes with the application of Workface Planning.

Project: GSCOREDate: Dec 2013
QuestionStrongly DisagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly AgreeComments
1.0 Project Definition & Planning
1.1Early project scope definition includes the requirement for constructability and consideration for Workface Planning.1WFP not considered.
1.2The Project Management Team have procedures that prescribe the application of Workface Planning for all stakeholders.1No
1.3Request for Proposals are issued with the requirement for Workface Planning.1No
1.4The requirement for Workface Planning support is a component of every contract1No
1.5The initial Project Execution Plan requires construction involvement during the development of the Path of Construction1No
1.6The initial Project Execution Plan includes a requirement for sequential Engineering and Procurement based upon the Path of Construction.3No evidence to support.
1.7The initial Project Execution Plan has a requirement for Information Management.3No evidence to support
1.8The WBS is structured to support the progressive elaboration of work through CWAs, CWPs, EWPs and IWPs.4CWP, yes FIWP no.
1.9The EWP release plan supports the Path of Construction.4Yes,
1.10The procurement plan supports the Path of Construction.2Mods being delivered out of sequence.
Section 1.0 Total (out of 50)
Project: GSCOREDate: Dec 2013
QuestionStrongly DisagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly AgreeComments
2.0 Project Controls
2.1The project schedule activities are structured to represent complete components of the WBS. (CWAs, CWPs, EWPs & IWPs)4CWPs and FIWPs are in schedule
2.2The level 3 Project Schedule is developed based upon the Path of Construction.4
2.3The engineering level 3 schedule consists of EWPs that are sequenced to support the Path of Construction.3
2.4The procurement level 3 schedule consists of activities that are sequenced to support CWPs and the Path of Construction.4
2.5The construction level 3 schedule consists of CWPs that support the Path of Construction.4CWPs appear in the schedule.
2.6The construction level 5 schedule consists of IWPs that support the Path of Construction.4Influenced by material availability.
2.7Installation unit rates from the project estimate are used for Earned Value Management.1Different rates used by Construction Contractor and Construction mgt
2.8Rules of progress are established by the Contractor and approved by the Project Management Team.3Rules of progress established by the contractor.
2.9The Project Management Team have established a standard format for weekly stewardship reports from the contractors.4Standard reports submitted weekly.
2.10The Construction contractor uses a spreadsheet to track and report constraint removal.2Checklist for pack development, not used for constraint.
Section 2.0 Total (out of 50)
Project: GSCOREDate: Dec 2013
QuestionStrongly DisagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly AgreeComments
3.0 Information Management
3.1The 3D model is available to construction4Restricted access.
3.2Planners have direct access to the latest revision drawings through Document Control.5Hard copies delivered by document control.
3.3Drawings are identified and stored based upon the WBS.4Yes
3.4The material management system produces material received reports for construction.4Yes. Packing list
3.5Materials are received and stored based upon the WBS.4Yes, material stored in grid.
3.6The Construction contractor has a standard format for IWPs.4Construction Contractorand Electrical contractor are different.
3.7The Construction Contractor has a procedure for Workface Planning.5Existing
3.8Workface Planners pull information from a backlog of documents and materials. (Clarification: Imminent construction execution is not relying upon the arrival of documents or materials)1Zero backlog materials truck to hook.
3.9A scaffold management program is in place that ensures scaffold has been erected prior to IWP release.1Forman requesting scaffolds, not an IWP constraint.
3.10A construction equipment management program is in place that ensures that equipment is assigned to IWP tasks and is fit for purpose.1Forman request equipment, not an IWP constraint.
Section 3.0 Total (out of 50)
Project: GSCOREDate: Dec 2013
QuestionStrongly DisagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly AgreeComments
4.0 Workface Planners
4.1Dedicated Workface Planners develop IWPs4More planners required.
4.2Workface Planners have supervision experience in field construction.5Developed from craft
4.3Work processes have been established to ensure planners have access to the latest information.43D model-yes Documents–yes Materials- no
4.4Workface Planners are onsite during construction4Not on night shift.
4.5The ratio of Workface Planners to direct craft labour is 1 – 5011-150 ratio
4.6Workface Planners report directly to their discipline superintendent.1Planners don’t follow the standard.
4.7Workface Planners only develop IWPs for their discipline.4Working towards this standard.
4.8Each Workface Planner has a desk, phone, computer, internet access and access to a site radio.3Internet sketchy, restricted office space.
4.9Workface Planners conduct regular field tours with their Superintendent.1No evidence to support.
4.10Workface Planners have attended formal training for Workface Planning.Most have formal training.
Section 4.0 Total (out of 50)
Project: GSCOREDate: Dec 2013
QuestionStrongly DisagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly AgreeComments
5.0 Installation Work Packages
5.1IWPs represent 1 rotation of work for 1 foreman and crew. (500–1000hrs)2Packages not based on superintendents 10 day scope.
5.2IWPs are free of constraints immediately prior to release.1No formal constraint management.
5.3All IWPs identify all relevant special conditions.1Planners not considering special conditions.
5.4Every IWP is reviewed and signed off by the superintendent prior to release.4Supervisors sign as received, not as approved.
5.5Every IWP is reviewed and signed off by the safety representative prior to release.1Safety not a constraint, no interaction on packs.
5.6Every IWP is reviewed and signed off by the QA representative prior to release.3ITP present, FIWP not reviewed by QA.
5.7Every IWP contains a complete Bill of Materials4Requirement for MTOs in FIWP.
5.8Every IWP is checked for latest revision drawings immediately prior to release.5Yes
5.9Every IWP appears in the project schedule as a level 5 activity for at least 2 rotations prior to release.4Limited lookahead.
5.10IWP formats are continuously improved through the feedback that the Workface Planners get from the Foremen.2Little communication between planners and foreman
Section 5.0 Total (out of 50)
Project: GSCOREDate: Dec 2013
QuestionStrongly DisagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly AgreeComments
6.0 Field Execution
6.1All direct work is executed from IWPs2<pstyle=””>Not all disciplines using FIWPs
6.2Workface Planners attend daily coordination meeting with all of the Superintendents.2Formal meeting once per week.
6.3Responsibility for material coordination of IWPs has been assigned to dedicated coordinator.1Materials not a constraint.
6.4Responsibility for construction equipment assignment has been assigned to a dedicated coordinator.1Craft responsible for their own equip. Fit for purpose not checked.
6.5Responsibility for scaffold errection has been assigned to a dedicated coordinator.4Yes, scaffolding is not a constraint
6.6IWP progress is tracked against the project schedule and posted in common areas.1<pstyle=””>Progress not being tracked in schedule.
6.7IWPs are not left in the field beyond their scheduled completion date.1No. solid completion date established.
6.8IWPs are returned to the Workface Planner upon completion.4Yes.
6.9A backlog of constraint free IWPs is maintained.1IWPs are not reliant on constraints. There is no backlog.
6.10Adequate management audits are undertaken to ensure alignment with Workface planning fundamentals.4<pstyle=””>WFP first assessment being conducted.
Section 6.0 Total (out of 50)
Project: GSCOREDate: Dec 2013
QuestionStrongly DisagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly AgreeComments
Total score/ 50
1Project Definition & Planning526821
2Project Controls2262030
3Information Management3201033
4Workface Planners3320531
5Installation Work Packages34312527
6Field Execution541221

Comments and Recommendations:

  1. Establish Project Management Standard for Workface Planning.
  2. Expand EVM to encompass FIWPs so that FIWPs have Planned value.
  3. All FIWPs to be scheduled, then tracked progress against each FIWP in the schedule.
  4. FIWPs need Planned Value then duration from the Superintendent.
  5. Place indirect activities in the schedule (Scaffold and Temporary Power)
  6. Create and maintain a fully integrated schedule with all subcontractor activities.
  7. Post the schedule, with progress in common areas.
  8. Set up each Workface Planner with a copy of the 3D model and supply training for it`s operation.
  9. CWPs and revisions must be managed by Document Control and available to the entire project, days and Nights.
  10. Reinstate the Construction Contractor material management program
  11. Establish Material management team for material receiving, warehousing, bag and tag, distribution and preservation. (not designated to the trades).
  12. Construction Contractor must follow the Construction Contractor Workface Planning procedure.
  13. Create and maintain a two-week backlog of work fronts
  14. Create and maintain a robust high speed WIFI network.
  15. Increase the number of Planners to satisfy the Planning requirements.
  16. Planners must report directly to their superintendents.
  17. Establish a process for constraint analysis and removal for the FIWPs that include:
    1. Materials: received onsite.
    2. Latest Rev documentation: (already functional)
    3. Scaffold: Erected and fit for purpose
    4. Construction equipment: Fit for purpose and allocated to the FIWP.
    5. Quality Control documentation
    6. Safety: JHAs and special considerations based upon the scope
  18. FIWPs should also contain Cost codes relevant to the scope, standard for field capture of barrier tracking and lessons learned , unique scope statement, Emergency contact and procedure information.
  19. Establish a life cycle for each FIWP with a mandatory return date.
  20. All direct work must be executed from FIWPs
  21. Utilize Workface planners to manage RFIs and FCNs

Productivity opportunities outside WFP:

  1. Bring the Foremen in 30 mins prior to shift start for crossover field walk and permitreceiving.
  2. Conduct tool time study by third party contractor.
  3. Conduct a review, and address bussing issues.
  4. Permit issuing procedure reviewed, optimize the use of blanket permits.
  5. Conduct a review of radio, trucks lunchroom, and washroom facilities.
  6. Experienced people requesting WFP they have not seen used on site.
  7. Subcontractors being managed by Construction Contractor must submit their LEMs to Construction Contractor.
  8. Industry has proven that the fully functional implementation of WFP on a project has a significant positive impact on safety performance.
  9. The goal of removing the guess work and confusion in the field with the use of workface planning has yet to be achieved on this project.
  10. Manage payroll issues.
  11. Late and frequent revisions to EWPs resulting in further delays.

A summary of the comparison of the General Construction Contractor’s WFP Procedures and the COAA Workface Planning Guideline including an assessment of relevance of the differences.

Construction Contractor Procedures:

Three questions that we have been asked to address here:

  1. Are the Construction Contractor procedures in line with the COAA model
  2. Are the procedures good enough to drive success
  3. Are they being followed

Question 1: The COAA model is not definitive (by design) and we do see some alignment between them:

Rule #1: Appoint dedicated planner(s) to plan the work necessary for Installation Work Packages
Rule #2: Constructor or Construction Management review and agree to the Engineering Work Package (EWP) identification and release plan developed by engineering.
Rule #3: Constructor or Construction Management identify Construction Work Packages (CWP) and an associated release plan that is reviewed and agreed to by Engineering.
Rule#4: Constructor develops a Installation Work Package (IWP) identification and release plan that is reviewed and agreed to by engineering.
Rule #5: Issue EWPs (IFC) at least 4 weeks prior to issuing associated CWPs (IFC). Issue CWPs at least 4 to 8 weeks (depending on complexity) prior to issuing associated IWPs (IFC). Issue IWPs at least 4 weeks prior to the start of Construction or Shop Fabrication.
Rule #6: Setup work processes to ensure dedicated planners have access to the latest project information required for preparation of IWP and the intent of the information is understood by the dedicated planners.
Rule #7: Assign responsibility for integration planning to resolve anticipated conflicts proactively between IWP.
Rule #8: Assign responsibility for Material, Construction Equipment, Scaffold and Specialty Tool Coordination to dedicated Coordinator(s).
Rule #9: Dedicated Planner completes IWP and signs off as ready before IWP is released to crew.
Rule #10: Track progress of each IWP and provide targets to crew to drive performance.
Rule #11: Dedicated planners to develop a backlog of IWPs that can be issued to the crew by construction supervision if the crew cannot complete the first issued IWP due to unforeseen circumstances.
Rule #12: Write the requirement for WorkFace Planning into all engineering and construction contracts including roles and responsibilities of Contractors and Owners. Owners must declare their commitment to WorkFace Planning and the required resourcing and develop a WorkFace Planning Execution Strategy for the project.
Rule #13: Appoint WorkFace Planning Executive Sponsors and Champions.
Rule #14: Initiate and coordinate a management audit to ensure that the above rules are being followed.

The Construction Contractor procedure:

5.2.1 identifies Workface Planners as the developer of FIWPs (COAA rule # 1) COAA Rules 2,3 & 4 are not addressed
5.4.4 states that the IWPs must be constraint free two weeks prior to execution, the COAA model is 4 weeks (rule # 5)
5.3 shows that there is an expectation that the Planners will have direct access to documents, material data and the project schedule. (COAA rule # 6)
5.3.6 describes a weekly work plan that sounds like a weekly integration meeting, which covers the intent of the COAA rule number 7 Although rule # 7 suggests that this is done at an IWP level not a component level as described in 5.3.6
5.2.2 identifies a material coordinator, however the need for scaffold coordination (or for it to be identified as a constraint) is not present. There is also no requirement for a dedicated coordinator for construction equipment or specialty tools (COAA rule # 8)
5.4.4 describes the release process that is identified in COAA rule # 9
5.4.5 details the use of a process that calculates and tracks earned value but it does not specifically note that it is linked to the FIWPs. (COAA rule # 10)
There is no specific reference to a backlog of FIWPs as required in COAA rule # 11.
5.2.3 identifies ‘Craft/Subcontractor Planning Group’ but there is no specific reference to the contractual obligations of Construction Contractor themselves or their subcontractor to execute Workface Planning. (COAA rule # 12) COAA Rule# 13 applies to Owner: the requirement to have a Workface Planning Champion, which is not covered in this document.
The Construction Contractor procedure does not address the need to audit the application of WFP. (COAA rule # 13)

The COAA rules are one section of the COAA model, the other key documents are Prerequisites and Infrastructure. (attached)

The COAA prerequisites identify: Coding, Contracting, Engineering and Tracking as the foundation for the application of WFP. The Construction Contractor procedure address tracking at a component level but not at a FIWP level. There is no reference in the Construction Contractor procedure to Engineering, cost coding (WBS Structure) or contract language.

The COAA Infrastructure standards identify the requirement for the Construction contractor to develop an org chart for the WFP department and to then create job descriptions which identify reporting structure, qualifications and deliverables for the positions.

The Construction Contractor procedure identifies Workface Planners but does not show who they report to or where they fit in the Org chart. Their deliverables are identified as FIWPs with no mention of constraint management. The ratio of Planners to craft is not identified in the Construction Contractor procedure and there is no reference to a plan for implementation, as identified in the COAA WFP Infrastructure document: WFP-PRC-2013-106-A WFP Infrastructure.

A summary of any recommendations to make the current WFP procedures more effective and robust.

#ItemEffort RequiredValue to the ProjectDesired State
1WFP for SafetyMedVery HighPlanned predictable execution of work fronts has created a stable environment that allows a greaterfocus upon safety.
2Constraint management programMedVery HighFIWPs are only released to the field when they are free of constraints
3Two week backlogHighVery HighAn established backlog of executable work fronts that is maintained so that there is a steady state of work fronts and there are Plan B options for situations where work is interrupted unexpectedly
4PM Standard for WFPLowHighThe project Management Team develop a standard for Workface Planning and then manage thecontractor against the standard with established KPIs
5Planners Report to SuperintendentsLowHighFIWPs represent the Superintendent’s execution strategy
6EVM in FIWPsLowHighEach FIWP is labeled with the Value that will be earned when the work is completed
7FIWPs in the ScheduleLowHighLevel 5schedulepopulatedwithIWPs,resourceloaded,withplannedvalue baseduponquantities, progressed weekly.
8Manage payroll issuesLowHighThe absence of conflict caused by payroll accounting issues
9Reduce permittingMedHighBlanket permits issued for repetitive tasks, which allows a great focus on high risks tasks.
10More PlannersMedHighHigh quality FIWPs and optimized field productivity
113D models for the Workface PlannersMedHighEach WFPer develops 3D model shots for FIWPs based upon their unique scope
12Material Management TeamMedHighSingle department that controls all aspects of site materials
13Foremen jump time for crossoverMedHighSmooth transition shift to shift and Permits in place prior to crews starting = increased time on tools.
14Construction Contractor ProceduresMedHighCreates an effective model for the execution of Workface Planning
15Review facilitiesMedHighFit for purpose amenities, trucks and radios.
16Reinstate IPMSHighHighSingle source of material received information
17Improve quality of EngineeringHighHighMinimal revisions and RFIs and workable CWPs
18Robust High Speed WIFILowMedEffective communication
19Expanded FIWPsLowMedHigh quality FIWPs that address the Foreman’s needs.
20Document Control – CWPs and RevsLowMedCommon access to project documents for all stakeholders
21Supers add durationsLowMedFIWP durations are based upon the Superintendents execution strategy
22Life Cycle for FIWPsLowMedFIWPs are completed within the allotted duration
23Indirect activities in the ScheduleLowMedAll activities are identified and progressed in the master schedule.
24Fully integrated scheduleLowMedFully integrated schedule
25Post the ScheduleLowMedCommon expectation for performance, well communicated
26Tool Time studyLowMedProductivity measurement tool that show the impact of changes, which leads to the optimization of the Workforce.
27All direct work in FIWPsMedMedAll scope captured and predictably executed
28Address Bussing issuesMedMedHassel free transportation of workforce.
29LEMs to Construction ContractorLowLowConstruction Contractor know who is doing what.
30Utilize WFPers to manage RFIs and FCNsLowLowSingle source for all scope related issues