The submittals process creates the foundation and defines the workflow for any construction project; therefore, effectively managing the process is fundamental to finishing projects on time, within budget and to specification. Before a project can begin, submittals must be created by the general contractor for every component of the project and sent to the architects and engineers for review and approval. If any submittal is denied or rejected, revisions need to be made and it must be resubmitted to the appropriate parties for another round of review and approvals. Once every submittal is approved, fabrication and construction can begin.
The submittals review and approval process has several key goals. First, it ensures the safety of the structure, as well as the people involved in the construction and future occupants. Second, it serves as the contractor’s proof of compliance with the construction documents and adherence to design concept and quality of materials used. Third, it outlines the approval workflow and illustrates how portions of the project will be carried out to improve efficiency and mitigate delays.
Depending on the size of the project, the submittals process can involve thousands of detailed documents, all of which need to be distributed, reviewed and approved by members of the project team. Additionally, all the project documents must be saved and stored somewhere. In the past, all of this needed to be managed manually in programs like Excel, which created a lot of room for human error and often resulted in costly mistakes or compromising the project altogether.
Moreover, when using the manual system, physical copies of every submittal—including comments, notes, revisions, and approvals—have to be printed, distributed to multiple parties, and stored for reference and record-keeping. Printing multiple rounds of revisions not only costs a fortune but manually maintaining thousands of pages of construction documents is laborious and also requires physical office space for storage.
Fortunately, today there is construction management software that can help you streamline the submittals review process by improving upon three key pillars: administrative work, visibility, and tracking. Below are six ways you can leverage technology to your advantage:
1. Eliminating paper trails
Because submittals outline all of the project details, they are critical documents, but traditionally cumbersome. Leveraging a cloud-based solution means general contractors don’t need to physically manage and store stacks of documents, and project members can access the documents they need with just a few clicks instead of waiting around or sifting through pages of revisions to make sure they’re working from the most up-to-date version. Going paperless not only speeds up the review process, but it also saves money on printing costs.
2. Accessibility on any device
One of the greatest benefits to a cloud-based solution means any team member can access up-to-date project information whenever, and wherever they need it. Whether it’s on the job site, from home, or while traveling, accessibility is fundamental to project oversight and management and allows for informed, rapid decision-making when needed.
3. Keeping project documents safe & secure
Construction submittals are very detailed documents that require input and feedback from multiple parties. While external stakeholders will need access to some project information, it’s also important to keep sensitive project information private, secure and limited to necessary parties. Utilizing a comprehensive software allows you save pertinent documents in a centralized location, while also allowing you to choose who gets to see what.
4. Centralizing markups
Every submittal requires that multiple people review and approve it, which also entails a number of revisions and markups. Without having submittals in centralized location, team members may have to toggle between multiple platforms, wasting valuable time. Using construction management software allows project members to add stamps, boxes, comments—all of which can easily be viewed by page on the same screen.
5. Updating workflow information in real-time
Manually managing submittals and sending them back-and-forth between multiple parties is a tiresome process. Using a management software that creates a direct link between parties and shows revisions and markups in real-time shortens the review process considerably. This also saves money and resources that would otherwise be spent manually printing and routing revised drafts and corrected versions to multiple team members.
6. Custom reporting
Ensuring submittals are routed and approved on time is critical to keeping a project on schedule. Management software allows you to create custom dashboards with detailed reporting options so you can set and assign due dates, track responses and overdue items, view full version history and more. This means the project leaders can always keep a pulse on what’s happening, and easily create status reports to share with the rest of the team or external stakeholders.
These are just some of the many ways technology can be used to streamline the complexities of the submittals review process. To learn additional ways our all-in-one, cloud-based solution can help keep your projects moving along with greater accuracy and higher efficiency, click here to schedule a personalized product tour.
Kathryn Dressler is a content strategist with more than 10 years of experience across the spectrum of marketing services, including blogging, social media, public relations, copywriting and editorial services.