How to Effectively Streamline Your Construction Submittals Review Process

The submittals process builds the foundation and defines the workflow for any construction project. Therefore, effectively managing the process is key to finishing the project on time.

Before a project can start, submittals should be made by the general contractor for every project component and then sent to architects and engineers for review and approval.

If any submittal is rejected or denied, revisions are required. It should be resubmitted to the appropriate parties for another round of reviews and approvals. The fabrication and construction can already start as soon as a submittal is approved.

The submittal review and approval process have a couple of key goals:

  • It should ensure the safety of the structure, the people involved in the construction, and its future occupants.
  • It’s proof of the contractor’s compliance with construction documents also, the adherence to the design concept and the quality of materials being used.
  • It outlines the approval workflow and illustrates critical parts of the project being carried out to enhance efficiency and mitigate delays. You can also streamline the submittals review process by improving on the three essential pillars- admin work, visibility, and tracking.

Now, here are ways to effectively streamline your construction submittals review process so that you can leverage technology to your advantage:

1. Use automated submittal log

Construction specifications describe the materials and workmanship needed to build a project according to the design. Now, depending on the project size, specifications can range from 100 to 2,000 pages long. In the same way, it also stores requirements for thousands of submittal register items.

With an Automatic Submittal Log (ASL,) you can build a submittal log from a spec book at the very start of a project. It lets you create a downloaded and accurate spreadsheet and all of your project’s submittal register items within minutes. This process helps you save time and eliminates the chance for errors.

2. Keep sensitive project information private and secure

In the submittals review process, numerous individuals submit and approve product data, shop drawings, and closeouts. This sees to it that the building is built based on the specifications.

Although external individuals need to participate in the submittal workflow, it’s also important that all sensitive information about the project is kept private. It’s best to use technology that offers flexibility and control, assigning submittals to non-project members with just a click.

3. Eliminate submittal paper trails

Construction submittals play a crucial role in commercial projects. They can show discrepancies and inaccuracies early on, affecting the project’s efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Because they’re essential, they should be easily accessible. Last-minute submittals can create problems. It includes requests for information and order changes, resulting in project delays.

Going paperless can speed up the workflow submittal process and then incorporate these submittals into the project management and design software.

4. Updating workflow information in real-time

Correcting mistakes and sending them later for revisions can be a hassle for contractors, subcontractors, and construction managers. The whole process of checking, making corrections, and modifications can take ages when done on paper.

But if there’s a direct link between reviewing these submittals, then every person can view the edits, make real-time corrections, and respond quickly.

Meaning, the workflow submittals process can be streamlined and be more cost-effective. All the money and resources consumed by printing and reprinting drafts and corrected versions can be allocated to other parts of the business.

In the same way, the job site tools you’re also using should be up to date. Making tiny improvements in the software and efficiency updates can make a difference in the long run. Although you might be wasting a minute or so for one submittals process, this can eventually add up over the years.

5. Add filters to submittals to find information faster

Sometimes, it’s relatively easy for some information on the submittals to slip through because there’s so much information that one needs to filter.

Thankfully, technology has made it possible for you to filter your list and eventually narrow it down to the items you need. You can have different categories for things like due dates, types of submittals, specs, reviewers, and the priority of the submittal.

6. Use email notifications

The submittals process needs a lot of steps before approved documents can be shared with the field team to start building. Therefore, no time should be wasted on getting partners to set up your submittal tracking system. This goes all the way from the vendor or subcontractor that uploads submittals to the design and consultant approving team.

Use construction project management software that will send approval alerts through email. When the approvers get notifications straight to their inbox that the submittal items have been assigned to them, this enhances accountability transparency and empowers them to send responses faster.

7. Centralized your submittal markups

As submittal documents move from one party to another during a review, they get renamed, reordered, and then marked according to the project’s specifications.

But if the project team doesn’t have the right tools, they can jump through various platforms and may find themselves going back to manual systems.

A centralized markup system lets users annotate submittals without downloading them, editing, and reuploading them back to the system.

8. Allow multiple reviewers to evaluate a submittal

It’s infrequent for submittals to be approved only by one party. Because there are numerous parties involved, it’s unproductive to wait for independent approval from each party before you proceed.

Moreover, letting multiple reviewers evaluate a submittal enhances efficiency, reducing the risk of delays. Usually, a project management software lets numerous parties add several reviewers as co-reviewers.

It improves transparency and promotes accountability within the project team. At the same time, it’s also easier for the team to identify mistakes and to know when to take action.

9. Use custom reporting

Ensuring that submittals are routed and approved on time is key in keeping a project on time. Management software lets you come up with custom dashboards with detailed reporting options. You can set, assign due dates, track responses and overdue items, and see the entire version history.

It means that project leaders should always keep a pulse on what’s happening and come up with status reports to share with external stakeholders or the rest of the team.

Furthermore, as these reports are shared with owners or other interested parties, they must look professional. For instance, some technologies allow users to develop a PDF report showing a selection from their submittal packages, all with their logo.

Over to You

In the past, manual and fragmented systems were used to create, track, and approve submittals. However, the manual process has become inefficient over time. But now, plenty of tools are available that allow you to streamline submittals and help you save an enormous amount of time and resources on your part.

Submittals are one of the most crucial parts of a construction project’s processes and workflows. Hopefully, you’ll apply what we’ve discussed in this post on how you can effectively streamline the construction submittals review process. Doing so allows you to better simplify all the complexities in the submittals review process using modern technology. Good luck!

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