One of the critical requirements of any construction project is to have a complete and comprehensive submittal log to ensure that all needed submittals required for manufacturing, procurement, and on-site activities are identified to eliminate the threat of missed submittals that could delay the planned schedule activities. The practice that most contractors follow in managing the submittal process of using MS Excel could carry the threats of incomplete submittal log, non-alignment with project schedule need dates as well as the absence of real-time status of submittals and in particular those that could impact critical activities.
The Need for Complete Understanding of the Project Scope of Work and Submittal Requirements
To achieve this, the project must have a complete and comprehensive Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) that takes into consideration the different building systems that detail the project’s scope of work. It is highly recommended to use a proven breakdown structure like the UniFormat™ which provides a globally acceptable breakdown structure for capital projects. Of course, this WBS can be modified and expanded to cover additional building systems that might be needed by the project and not covered by the UniFormat™.
The next step should be to align the project’s technical specification sections required to deliver the scope of work at the lowest level of the WBS. Usually, technical specifications will be organized by the MasterFormat™ which is a globally recognized specifications-writing standard for most building projects. It should be noted that it is very common to have the same specification section repeated under different WBS levels for which the decision on where it will be assigned depends on when it will be first needed as per the project schedule. The example below shows that for the “A101001 wall foundations”, there could five specification sections that could be needed to cover the scope requirements for completing wall foundations. Those are specification sections 033000, 042000, 071000, 075000, and 079000.
For each specification section, the project’s technical specifications document will detail the submittal requirements which could include Product Data, Shop Drawings, Instructions, Schedules, Method Statements, Test Reports, Certificates, Material Samples, Warranties, Subcontractor or Supplier Qualifications, among others. Those details will become the basis for creating the submittal schedule as well as the submittal items log needed to fulfill the project’s submittal management requirement. The details should also identify the project’s schedule activity that will reflect the duration needed to submit, review and approve the submittal. The review and approval duration for each submittal activity should be following the contract requirements as some projects might require longer review and approval durations for HVAC, finishes, and other submittal types.
Creating the Submittal Schedule
The data captured in the submittal log will be imported to Oracle Primavera P6 to create the submittal schedule. The submittal review and approval will be linked to its successor activities included in the project schedule. The successor activities could be manufacturing, procurement, or on-site activities whose commencement date depends on getting the project owner’s approval on the submittal. In addition, logical relationships could be added between the submittal review and approval activities should there be a flow of review and approvals that need to be adhered to.
Putting It All Together
Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb can help those organizations in having a robust submittal management solution that will be used to plan and manage the submittal review and approval process. To start with, the approved baseline schedule which includes the submittal schedule activities as well as the project WBS will be imported into PMWeb using PMWeb schedule link command.
The next step will be to import the submittal register details captured in the MS Excel file into PMWeb. Using the PMWeb Submittal Items module, the MS Excel Import command will be used to achieve this. This will ensure that there is a single version of the truth of the submittal submission requirements. It is highly recommended to have a complete submittal register before importing the submittal register details into PMWeb. This will eliminate the effort that will be wasted manually adding missing information for those submittals which could exceed a couple of thousands of submittal items for some projects. PMWeb allows creating and importing ten (10) additional fields to capture additional submittal item details in addition to the standard submittal item fields.
Submitted Documents and Drawings
To ensure that the specification documents and any other contract documents used to create the submittal log are available to be reviewed and referred to, the PMWeb document management repository will be used to create a filing structure that will detail the CSI MasterFormat™ fifty (50) divisions and the specification items within each division. The specification item folder will be uploaded with the relevant specification section document and all other required submittal items such as warranties, certificates, shop drawings, as-built drawings, method statements, test reports, and method statements among others.
Those uploaded documents will be attached to their relevant submittal item record. This will enable the project team to have immediate access to all supportive documents for each submittal item as well as the documents that were approved by the project owner and his authorized representatives such as the engineering consultant.
Another recommended practice is to have a predefined checklist of items that the Contractor must confirm each submittal for completeness and conformance to specified requirements before submission to the Architect for review. PMWeb allows the creation of checklists that can be added to each submittal item. The checklist can be standard for all submittals or it could vary by submittal category among others.
This will provide the project owner, project management consultant, engineering consultant, contractor, and subcontractors with the confidence that a complete and comprehensive submittal log is available. A submittal log that covers the complete project scope of work and is aligned with the project’s technical specifications and contract documents. The planned submittal log will be updated with the actual submittal review and approval progress which will be captured from the predefined workflow steps.
The process for submitting, reviewing, and approving submittals will be done using PMWeb submittal sets. This module allows selecting relevant submittal items that need to be submitted as one package. Those could be a set of shop drawings or as-built drawings among others. The submittal set will have a predefined workflow to formalize the steps for review and approvals for the assigned project consultant team members.
About the Author
Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with more than 35-year service record providing project management and control services to over 100 projects with a total value of over US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education, and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication, and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.
Bassam is a frequent speaker on topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 35 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 250 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).
Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and London Business School, London, UK.