Article #303 Getting the Flavor of Digital Transformation for Capital Construction Projects: Digitize Document Management and Transmittal Management Processes

The digital transformation for capital construction projects delivery requires digitizing all project management processes required to manage the project life cycle phases. Nevertheless, the extent of digital transformation scope that an organization is willing to undertake could vary from one organization to another. An organization’s decision will usually take into consideration available budget to spend, maturity of currently adopted project management processes, organization readiness for digital transformation, availability of resources to manage and use the solution among other constraints. Those organizations understand that eventually they would need to digital transform their complete project management life cycle processes but this will only happen when they are ready for it. Initially, those organizations want a solution to digital transform the processes that are causing them most pain but at the same time, they want a solution that is capable to digital transform all other project management processes at later stage when they are ready for it. This is crucial to avoid wasting whatever initial investment they made and wasting the gained knowledge and experience in using the solution.

In general, the majority of organizations involved in delivering capital projects believe that the digital transformation of managing project documents and transmittals will be always on their top priority pain list. Those organizations want to digital transform those two processes to fulfil the needs of their current and future projects portfolio requirements. In addition, the majority of those organizations want a web-enabled solution that is available on the cloud to eliminate the need for any new investment in their Information technology infrastructure. Nevertheless, knowing that their documents and data will be on the cloud, the selected SaaS solution should also comply with their needs for protecting those documents and records. This will require having a dedicated server to store all of their documents and records so they are not a server that is shared with other organizations. Even by selecting the SaaS option, organizations also want to have the option to self-host the solution when they are ready to do so in the future. Finally, those organizations need a solution that they can configure on their own and without the need for paid professional services to enable them to create workflows, forms, reports or dashboards.

PMWeb is one of the Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) solutions that will comply with the above requirements. PMWeb project module screen will be used to capture the details of all projects that will be managed. The PMWeb project input form will be used to capture all needed details about the project including its spatial latitude and longitude attributes, project stakeholders, budget, planned start and finish dates, scope of work among others. There is also the option of add additional user defined fields if this is needed to capture other information not readily available in PMWeb. In addition, pictures of current project progress status can be uploaded and attached to project module.

Since every single construction project will have a schedule that to certain extent drives the decision-making dates on projects, PMWeb project module allows importing the project schedule details from Primavera P6 or MS Project. The imported data will include the activities planned and actual start and finish dates, original, actual and remaining duration, percent complete, total float among others. In addition, it allows importing the logic relationships between the activities. Although this is not a must requirement, nevertheless it will be of great value in driving the decision-making process when it comes to reviewing and approving transmittals.

To ensure consistency in managing the different entities who are involved in the delivery of the organization’s capital construction projects, PMWeb companies’ module will be used to ensure having a single repository of all those companies and the contacts within each company. Those contacts will be the users that could have workflow tasks assigned to them when it comes to reviewing and approving transmittals, uploading documents and document revisions as well as monitoring and evaluating the transmittal management process. To expedite the processes of having the companies register, PMWeb allows importing the companies details into PMWeb database using MS Excel template.

The next step will be to create the document management repository folders and subfolders to match the filing structure adopted for each current project. Of course, it is highly recommended if the filing structure was standardized across the organization’s complete projects’ portfolio. PMWeb allows uploading documents, of different file types, in bulk to each folder. Attributes can be added to each folder to capture additional information if needed for the uploaded documents. Similar to other document management system functions, PMWeb allow checking out and checking in documents to maintain the version history of each document.

To ensure compliance with the organization’s data security policy, access permission rights can be set for each folder or subfolder to restrict access, editing, deleting and other permission rights. In addition, PMWeb users can subscribe to each folder or subfolder to receive notifications when a new document or version of an existing document is uploaded or when documents are downloaded. Further, uploaded documents can be redlined and marked up using PMWeb viewer.

Now we are ready to implement the transmittal management process. The first step will be creating the review and approval workflow for the transmittal management process. Although by definition, a transmittal is a single direction process, that is it will be sent from one to the attention of someone else, nevertheless assigning a workflow for the transmittal process will eliminate the need to create a new transmittal for sending the response back to the transmittal issuer.

The workflow in PMWeb is capable of defining all tasks needed for the review and approval of the transmittal including the actions for returning and resubmitting the transmittal. PMWeb workflow will enable sequencing the tasks in the required order as well as provide the planned duration for each task. Alerts can be defined for delayed workflow steps.

Since the records and documents that will be part of the transmittal process could be different type of submittals such as shop drawings, as built drawings, material sample, method statement among other as well as different reasons for request for information such as design coordination, construction coordination, constructability issues among others, PMWeb workflow allows adding conditions to the workflow to ensure that they right project team members get involved in the review and approval process. The transmittal category field will be used to capture all possible transmittal types so PMWeb can automatically select the relevant workflow.

This leads to the last PMWeb module needed to fulfil the organization’s initial digital transformation requirement, which is PMWeb Transmittal module. The module comes ready with all needed fields that are common to transmittals including the project phase, transmittal category and WBS fields. In addition, new user defined fields can be added to the transmittal module to capture other needed information like for example the project schedule activity that could be impacted if the transmittal is not approved by the given due date.

Similar to all other PMWeb modules, the attachment tab will be used to attach all documents to be transmitted. Usually those documents are pre-loaded in PMWeb document management repository or they can be uploaded directly into the transmittal. Although no other PMWeb records will be used in this initial PMWeb implement not MS Outlook emails will be imported into PMWeb, nevertheless if this was done, then those records and emails could have been linked to transmittals.

To start the review and approval process of the transmittal in accordance with the designed workflow, the transmittal initiator needs to submit the transmittal. PMWeb workflow will send email notification plus onscreen notifications to the users who are next in the workflow sequence. The assigned user to the workflow step needs to review the transmittal and provide the needed input with the option to invite other team members to provide their input. The same notification process will be repeated after the completion of each workflow step with all details captured on the workflow tab of the transmittal.

By having the automated workflow assigned to the transmittal module, PMWeb ready to use Workflow Inbox report will provide a real-time status of all workflow tasks showing tasks that are delayed or past due, due and yet to become due. The workflow tasks can be grouped by project, user or even the project management process which will be only meaningful if processes other than transmittal management being managed using PMWeb.

In addition to the option of having workflow assigned to the transmittal, the transmittal can be also shared with other individuals, who are either authorized PMWeb users or not via email. This will be done by using PMWeb notification option where a copy of the transmittal output can be attached to the notification email. The notification email has pre-defined fields for status, notification type, response due date, whether the notification is issued as reminder among others. The details of all notifications issued for each transmittal will be recorded on the notification tab of the transmittal form.

Should there be a need to have a printed or electronic PDF output of the transmittal form, PMWeb has ready to use predesigned transmittal output form with the captured details. The logo on the form will be automatically replaced with the logo added to the project module when it was added. The organization can also customize the output form to meet their branding requirements as well as display other needed information.

Similarly, PMWeb comes ready with a transmittal register that can be printed, saved as PDF, saved as MS Excel file as well as emailed. The logo on the report will be automatically replaced with the logo added on the project screen. In addition, the organization can customize the output report to meet their branding requirements as well as display other needed information including visuals to summarize the transmittals by category, status, WBS among others. The transmittal register report can be for a single project or selection of projects depending on the reporting requirements. The Transmittal Register will become of the reports that can be accessed directly from PMWeb landing page and similar to the Workflow Inbox report explained above and the Project Center page detailed next.

PMWeb Project Center, which can be configured by each user if needed, will provide a single page for managing documents and transmittals. The project will provide overall details on the project including latest attached progress photographs which can be uploaded directly from the project center screen and project completion date which will be picked from the imported Primavera P6 or MS Project Schedule.

The project center will also provide overall summary of project documents and transmittals status for which when the user clicks on either document management or transmittal, PMWeb will open the selected module. The project center can be configured to display other PMWeb modules when they are implemented.

About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with 40-year service record providing project management, project controls services and project management information system to over than 200 projects with a total value in excess of US $100 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment, Hospitality 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 in topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 40 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 300 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.


Contact us