Article #111 How Can We Improve the Process for Transmitting, Reviewing, Approving, and Sharing Documents in Capital Projects?

When it comes to the delivery of capital projects, one of the processes that will always exist regardless of the level of professional project management practices being adopted or the technology used on the project is the transmission of documents that need to be reviewed, approved, and shared among the project entities’ team members. Those could be documents that are created by the engineering consultant to enable issuing the project’s tender documents as well as the documents that are created by the contractor to enable constructing the project and handing over the project upon completion.

Those documents could be of different types like design drawings, issued for construction drawings, shop drawings, as-built drawings, specifications, method statements, manuals, photographs, bill of quantities and schedule of values, a program of works, reports, and warranties among many others. In addition, those documents could cover different disciplines such as architectural, structural, civil, mechanical, electrical, HVAC, fire alarm, fire protection, interior finishes, lighting, elevators, external works, landscaping, and signage among others. Further, those documents could be specific for certain zones, levels, and spaces within the project. Of course, those documents could be authored and developed by different entities.

Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb, the transmission of project documents is one of the many ready-to-use modules that PMWeb has. Nevertheless, it will be assumed that the project entities who have access to PMWeb, will implement the absolute basic and minimum functions to fulfill this requirement similar to what other document management systems could be offered to fulfill the transmittal of documents requirement. In addition, the details below are relevant to the project’s construction phase and assuming that multiple-prime contractors are involved in delivering the project’s scope of work.

Capturing the Project Documents to be Transmitted

Similar to what could be expected by all commercially available document management and project management information system solutions, the contractors involved in delivering the project must be able to upload and share the documents that need to be transmitted. PMWeb document management will be used to create a separate folder for the construction phase and sub-folders for each bid package. Those folders are usually designed to match the physical filing structure that each project would have. Access to each bid package folder will be restricted to the contractor who was awarded that bid package as well as the engineering consultant and other authorized representatives of the project owner who have a role in this process. Each folder will have predefined attribute fields to capture details of uploaded documents such as bid package, discipline, category, location, print size, and contractor name among others.

It should be noted that additional sub-folders can be created for each bid package if needed. For example, for the services bid package, sub-folders for mechanical, electrical, fire alarm, fire protection, HVAC, communications, BMS, and others can be created. This will be a recommended approach if the contractor has a different document controller responsible for each service system. In addition, having a well-thought document filing structure is very important as this will be of great value when the uploaded project documents are archived when the project is turned over to the project owner. PMWeb archive module will extract and export all documents in a structured format similar to the designed document filing structure.

The authorized document controller of each contractor will be responsible to upload the documents to be transmitted in their respective folder. Similar to all applications, documents can be uploaded in bulk to expedite the process. For each uploaded document, the document controller needs to provide the relevant attribute values. If documents were uploaded in bulk, a table will be displayed to complete those attribute values quickly.

Although PMWeb permits uploading documents that have a file size of 2 Giga Byte each, nevertheless, it is recommended to set the limit to 250 MB per file. Also, although PMWeb allows uploading all types of files, nevertheless it is highly recommended to not allow executable (.exe) files to be uploaded. In addition, the project owner should have a clear and strict policy to enforce all those organizations uploading files to run a virus security check on their files before uploading them into PMWeb. A field will be added to the attributes to confirm if a virus check was done or not.

Similar to what is expected from a document management system, PMWeb allows document versions. When this option is enabled, the document controller must first check out the old version document and then check in the new version document. It is a must that both documents have the exact file name. PMWeb allows showing all versions or only the last version. Further, for uploaded documents, the PMWeb document management repository will display the image of the uploaded document. Those could be pictures, PDF, MS Word, or MS Excel files among others.

Project team members also have the option to subscribe to a specific folder so they can receive email or online notifications when documents/revisions are added, when documents are checked in/out, when documents are moved out/deleted, and when documents are downloaded. Notifications can be sent to PMWeb users as well as non-PMWeb users.

Transmitting Uploaded Documents

Unlike other document management systems where transmitting uploaded documents will be usually sent via mail that is customized to look like a transmittal template, PMWeb comes ready with a full-fledged transmittal module. PMWeb transmittal input form comes ready with most of the fields needed for a transmittal plus some unique fields for WBS level, and project schedule activity among many other fields that can be added to the transmittal form. The transmittal form will also identify the proposed action of the form which could be For your information, For your approval, Approved as Noted, For your records, and For construction (or Issued for Construction).

To select the documents to be transmitted, the document controller needs to click on the attachment tab and then select the document manager which will open a screen showing all available documents to be attached in the folder that the document controller has access to. The document controller can drag and drop the documents that need to be transmitted.

PMWeb workflow module will be used to design the transmittal workflow to detail the steps needed for reviewing, approving, and sharing the transmitted document. The workflow will be used to define each step duration, who is or are responsible for the steps (multiple reviewers), who should be copied at that workflow step, whom the transmittal needs to be returned to as well as who needs to be sent to resubmit, instructions for each step and actions available to be taken at each step. In addition, PMWeb allows setting conditions for which the transmittal could follow different workflow steps depending on the bid package or other category or type code value.

PMWeb comes ready with the transmittal output form which the organization can use like this or redesign form to match their branding and field requirements. The transmittal form will have hyperlinks to the attached documents and details of the workflow review process. Of course, PMWeb comes ready with the transmittal log that details all transmittals details along with their status. The log report can be designed in the desired form and format. In addition, can be designed to sort, group, and filter the information to be displayed.

Reviewing and Approving the Transmitted Documents

PMWeb comes ready with its redlining tool to provide the reviewers with the function to add their review comments and remarks on the submitted documents. PMWeb markup tool allows having a different layer for each reviewer and for which a different color can be assigned for each reviewer. The markup tool also allows hyperlinking PMWeb records to the document as well as displaying stamps for approval, rejection, or comments. Those features will apply to documents submitted in PDF or Picture file formats. It is a common practice that documents are usually submitted in PDF file format to prevent any changes to what is being transmitted.

In addition, PMWeb provides the option of advanced reviewing capabilities with the Bluebeam Revu integration module. The document review and approval team has the option to use Bluebeam Revu to compare transmitted documents as well as add their comments and remarks to those documents. The PMWeb Bluebeam Revu integration will import those remarks into PMWeb so they can be documented and reported on.

For many organizations that use Bluebeam Revu, the complete review and approval process will be usually done in Bluebeam Revu using Bluebeam’s workflow. Only when the review and approval process is completed in Bluebeam Revu, the remarks and comments made by the review team will be sent to PMWeb using the integration module. In other words, PMWeb workflow will only have a single workflow step for the review and approval process as the detailed steps will be managed in Bluebeam itself.

Monitoring, Evaluating and Reporting the Transmittal Review and Approval Process

PMWeb will provide a real-time solution to monitor, evaluate and report on the transmittal review and approval process. The information captured for documents transmitted and reviewed using the transmittal module will become accessible to be reported on. The report could include visuals to summarize the details of the transmitted by status, and discipline among others. In addition, and since PMWeb can capture a single platform for all projects being delivered by the project owner, the transmittal status report can be for a single project, program of projects, the complete projects’ portfolio, or any portfolio selection.

About the Authorfounder

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.


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