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The Importance of Managing Your Submittal Workflow

Owners and design teams regularly require additional information about project components and materials to be submitted for approval prior to installation. The review and approval of such submittals are not just for aesthetic signoff, it can also be critical to the structural integrity of the work. As such, it is vitally important for contractors to carefully manage their submittal approval process, ensuring that the right people have the opportunity to review and approve submittals in time to keep the work on schedule.

Sometimes forgotten is the collaborative nature of this review process. It is typical for several parties to raise questions and exchange comments during the review process. RedTeam’s collaborative consoles provide for an efficient process to share such information and expedite the required approval while documenting the process along the way.

Submittal workflows can affect a project’s cost, quality, and success. For larger projects, it’s possible for there to be hundreds or even thousands of unique approval workflows that contractors need to manage to avoid delays effectively. While technology has helped to advance many aspects of the construction industry, a lot of companies are still dependent on Excel spreadsheets, emails, and paper trails to manage this critical process. This reliance, however, lends itself to a large margin of error most projects aren’t prepared to handle.

The Negative Impact of a Bad Submittal Workflow

When properly managed, submittal workflow helps a project run smoothly, but there can be significant consequences when managed incorrectly. The biggest catalysts for these consequences are delays – inefficient management means important documentation takes longer to make its way through architects, owners, and subcontractors. Delays in documentation can cause a ripple effect on the jobsite. The lack of proper information will cause production delays, and missing timelines may force the rescheduling of certain tasks, creating even more of a problem with the tight labor market.

Here are a few examples of how an inefficient submittal workflow can go from bad to worse:

EXAMPLE #1

A commercial general contractor is juggling a lot and forgets to send a submittal verifying the type of concrete blocks that need to be used. Later, that same general contractor realizes there were specific instructions in the spec book detailing requirements to get the concrete blocks approved beforehand. Because of this one submittal workflow error, the general contractor and the team were unable to build the roof structure. Instead, the team had to reengineer the wall and reinforce it with concrete and rebar. Not only did they spend additional time correcting the error, but the general contractor was also responsible for the expenses associated with it.

EXAMPLE #2

An architect approves a submittal for roofing materials that did not meet the requirements of the spec. In the document, it was clear that this material was not to be used within a certain distance from the ocean, as there were warranty exclusions set in place by the manufacturer. The architect’s mistake resulted in product failure, with the material beginning to corrode immediately. Even with the outcome of corrosion, the general contractor was not to blame for this situation, because they had followed the proper submittal protocols and had the right documentation to back it up.

Although both examples are results of a lousy submittal workflow, it’s clear that fault can quickly shift depending on who followed proper submittal protocol. For example one, the general contractor was to blame because they had not shared a submittal; and in example two, the architect was to blame because they approved a submittal that did not meet the requirements of the spec book. In either case, the ability, or lack thereof, to prove the general contractor had done their part made the difference.

How RedTeam Improves Submittal Workflows

Since collaboration is the core of RedTeam’s platform, users can manage all submittals in one easy-to-use location. The platform’s uniform design provides general contractors with visibility on the status of the submittals in the process – making them easier to manage.

General submittal process using RedTeam’s platform:

  1. Submittals are created.
  2. Submittals are sent for approval.
  3. Submittals are approved.
  4. Submittals are routed to the project’s plan room in RedTeam’s platform.
  5. Submittals are shared with the entire collaborative team involved in the project.

Submittals distributed through RedTeam are shared by giving access to an online document, which means metadata is captured. The metadata captured in RedTeam’s platform (documentation comments, submission timing, etc.) can help general contractors avoid the settlement table through proper documentation and accountability. Each submittal is shared within RedTeam’s collaborative console, where each party can comment and work with the team on that document.

Improperly documented submittals will disrupt a construction project’s momentum. Through the use of a collaborative platform such as RedTeam, general contractors can avoid the surplus of financial risk associated with submittal errors.

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