Article #330 How to Fulfill the Specification Requirements Set for Submittals on Capital Construction Projects Using Project Management Information Systems?

The Construction Speficiation Institute (CSI) specification section for submittals is an example of specifications for managing submittals that are a must requirement when it comes to delivering capital construction projetcs. For example, the CSI Specification section 013000 details the description of the submittal requirements, submittal procedures, specific submittal requirements, action on submittals and repetitive review. For capital construction projects, the common submittal types include Shop Drawings, As-Built Drawings, Material Samples, Product Data, Operation and Maintenance Manuals, Suppliers Qualifications, Guarantees, Warranties, Certifications, Experience Records, Maintenance Agreements, Workmanship Bonds, Survey Data and Reports, Mock-Ups, Physical Work Records, Quality Testing and Certifying Reports, Copies of Industry Standards, Field Measurement Data among others. For each submittal type, the specification will detail the submittal requirement which should also be aligned with the specific specification section of what is being submitted.

The submittal sepcifications will also address the submittal of material and equipment alternative or substitution requests. In addition, they address the details on scheduling the transmitting of those submittals so they will not delay procurement and on site activities. Further, the specifications will address the requirements of coordination of a submittal iten with other submittals, how to transmit those submittals as well as resubmittal requirements for returned submittals and submittal distribution requirements.

The submittal specification section will also detail the type of actions that could be taken by the Engineer when reviewing those submittals. Those actions could include Approved, Approved with Comments, Approved with Comments Resubmit, Rejected and For Information Only. The submittal sepcification could also specify the minumum duration allowed for the Engineer review which could vary by submittal type and what is being submitted. For example, the norm duration for submittal review is usually 14 days, nevertheless, the review for air condition chillers could be as long as 90 days. The specification could also address how to deal with delays due to submittal review and approval tasks.

Althouh having the submittal items as an integral part of the project schedule is a requirement on most capital construction projects, nevertheless, mananging those submittals could prove to be impossible if only the project’s planning and scheduling software, like Primavera P6 or MS Project, are used. Not only it is almost impossible to list every submittal item in the project schedule but also and unlike the project schedule activities, submittals are performed on daily basis and require daily update of status. Submittals could go through a repetitive cycle if they need to be resubmitted, something that project schedule activities will cannot do. In addition, the project team who will be managing submittals are usually different than those who are involved in managing the project schedule.

Successful management of submittals need Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) that have submittals as a core functionality like PMWeb. To start with, the project schedule and all interim progress updates need to be imported to PMWeb to ensure that the submittal process is aligned with the current project schedule.

Another requirement for managing submittals on capital construction projects is how to upload, store and share the many type of documents that will be part of the submittal process. Those could include shop drawings, as-built drawings, material and product catalogies, qualification and experience details of companies, operation and maintenance manuals, gurantees, bonds, certificates, test results, mock-up pictures among many others.

PMWeb document management repository will be used to create the filing structure that is best suited for submittal management. For example, there will be a primary folder for each CSI specification division (05 Metals) with subfolders for each CSI specification section (05 14 00 Structural Aluminum Framing). Each specification section folder can also include subfolders for each specification subsection (05 14 13 Architecturally-Exposed Structural Aluminum Framing). For each folder and subfolder, attributes can be defined to capture additional details for each submittal item. In addition, each document management folder or subfolder can be assigned with the needed access permission rights to limit access to those folders and subfolders to only authorized project team members.

Further, PMWeb allows project team members to subscribe to each submittal folder or subfolder so they can receive online or email notification when a new document or version of document is uploaded or downloaded among others. PMWeb allows maintaining versions of each document with the option of showing all revisions or only the last approved revisions.

For uploaded documents in PDF file format, PMWeb allows redlining and adding comments to those documents. For those who require advance markup, redlining and document comparison features, PMWeb has an integration with Bluebeam Revu to enable advanced document review functions and features. The integration with Bluebeam Revu, allows PMWeb to automatically import and report on all comments and remarks done by all Bluebeam Revu reviewers.

The common practice in creating the submittal log is for the Contractor to request from all Subcontractors, Suppliers as well as his own team is to provide the list of required submittals as per the project contract documents in an Excel file format. The file should include all needed details for each submittal item including CSI specification section, category, type, manufacturer name, WBS level, which project schedule activity does it impact among others.

PMWeb ready-to-use Submittal Items module allows importing the submittal Excel file to automatically create a register of those submittals. Additional fields can be added to the submittal items using PMWeb Additional Information module where unlimited user defined fields and groups can be added.

For documents that are associated with a specific submittal item, whether already uploaded and stored on PMWeb document management repository or will be uploaded at a later date, those documents will be attached to their relevant submittal items. PMWeb allows displaying a snapshot picture of those attached files on the main page of the submittal item.

Of course, each submittal needs to be submitted to the Engineer for their review and approval. Accordingly, PMWeb submittal module will be assigned with a pre-defined workflow. The PMWeb workflow will identify the sequence of tasks that are needed to submit, review and approve the submittal process. Those tasks will be assigned to their responsible project team members in accordance with the project’s responsibility assignment matrix (RAM) as well as the set authority approval levels.

The workflow will have an embedded condition to ensure that the workflow distribution is aligned with those project stakeholders who need to review the different submittals made for each submittal section. The conditional workflow option in PMWeb allows selecting different workflows for the same form depending on the values of the submittal item fields. For example, the submittal for Interior Finishes will be reviewed by different individuals than those who will review structural drawings and calculations and so on.

For the submittal of material and equipment alternative or substitution requests, PMWeb custom form builder will be used to capture the details of all such requests. The custom form can be designed to capture all the fields that are needed for making the needed actions for such requests. Similar to submittal items, all supportive documents for such requests can be uploaded and stored on PMWeb document management repository and then attached to the request form. In addition, a workflow can be assigned to the request form to ensure that all needed reviews and approvals associated with such requests are formally taken and documented.

The information captured in the submittal management process and the submittal of material and equipment alternative or substitution requests process will become available to be reported on in a real-time format to provide a single version of the truth on how those processes are performing. The reports can be designed in any desired form and format to provided the needed insight for better and faster monitoring, evaluating and report the performance of those processes.

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.


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