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December 9, 2019 - 5:00pm

Article written by Andy Holtmann and appears on the Viewpoint blog

Submittals are one of the most vital parts of the processes and workflows around construction projects. The submittal process assures owners that their plans and specs are clearly understood by both contractors and subcontractors building the project. This process ensures both quality control and contractual compliance per the plans and specifications.

A typical construction project, though, can feature hundreds, if not thousands of submittals and workflows around them. Delays in processing or last-minute submittals can lead to problems — including requests for information (RFIs) and change orders — which can cause significant project delays, impacting both productivity and deliverability.

Contractors have long sought for ways to improve their submittal processes to streamline their projects’ productivity and mitigate risk of errors due to late or incomplete information.

Stuck in the Manual Process Mud

Making matters worse, many contractors are still relying on manual approaches to submittals.

One of these approaches involves printing and distributing reams of paperwork and emailing these between the office, field and back again. Typical submittals can average anywhere from 15 to 25 pages per specification and with multiple people or teams needing to review, that can mean thousands of sheets of paper that needs to be shared, reviewed, amended, reviewed again and shared out to teams in both the field, professionals in the back office and the architects and design teams. That can mean countless hours spent in the submittal workflow process.

Only marginally better is relying on spreadsheets or forms and emailing those back and forth to relevant project team members. With the amount of changes often made during the submittal process, this can mean having to watch inboxes like a hawk to ensure proper information and workflows are being maintained. Just one error made along the way in either if these processes can lead to key project mistakes and costly rework.

Streamlining Submittals Through Technology

As technology advances and contractors modernize their operations, more and more are putting integrated software solutions in place to streamline the submittal process. These solutions digitize the submittal processes in a central location, removing the endless paper trails. With leading-edge construction software solutions, submittal workflows are integrated into larger ERP platforms, using the same standardized data sets to ensure that the entire project team is always working from the same set of data. And, with cloud-based solutions, the data involved with each submittal can be collected, compiled and shared in real time.

Some additional benefits of modern software for the submittal process:

  • Submittals can be easily generated and shared quickly throughout the organization and extended project teams
  • Increased accessibility to data and visibility into projects, with documents and data available at users’ fingertips in real time
  • Advanced tracking of the submittal process, with audit trails to show workflow, status and ball-in-court duties among project team members
  • Reduction of time spent manually processing submittals and project delays from waiting for approvals or submittals to be closed
  • Mitigated project risks that result from errors or incomplete information
  • A more accurate budget and project schedule, easier project closeouts and overall project success
  • Cost savings in overhead required for manual submittal processes and reduced project rework

A Team Approach

The project management applications within ViewpointOne — our cloud-based platform developed to enhance construction collaboration, is transforming the construction submittal process for contractors. ViewpointOne connects the back office and field operations with contractors’ extended team of subcontractors, suppliers, architects and owners, providing a collaborative platform to host and share all forms of construction documents and enable automated workflows between team members.

ViewpointOne manages the process of signing off on any kind of contractual deliverable (labor on site, material delivery, a package of documents, etc.) that are often included in submittals. Users can forecast deliverables for projects and see progress on submittals though intuitive dashboards. All communications and reviews associated with submittals are recorded within ViewpointOne’s project management applications. Submittals can be categorized into different types, allowing contractor to easily manage the thousands of submittals that projects can typically produce.

You can create customized submittal workflows between the contractor, the architect and design team, and, if field teams aren’t ready to let of spreadsheets, they can import information directly from Excel.

The ViewpointOne platform is fully-integrated with both Viewpoint’s Vista and Spectrum construction ERP solutions, as well as mobile field and HR management applications, creating an end-to-end construction management solution. If a problem is identified in the submittal process, users can drill down into their system of record to see details or make necessary changes. And data from accounting, purchasing, payroll, human resources and others can be automatically included in submittals, further reducing time and effort spent.

To learn more about how your organization can streamline your construction submittal processes with modern technology, connect with CDP today!