The Importance of Submittal Workflow Management in Construction

For many industries, time is money. This is especially true for construction. Delays and errors, no matter how small, can cost your business precious time and money. While you can’t always avoid unexpected delays, you can be proactive about mitigating them or have plans in place to overcome challenges before they happen. Construction submittals are one area where your team can take measures to streamline your project. Read on to learn more about the importance of submittal workflow management and how you can optimize your submittal process.

The purpose of submittals in construction 

The submittal workflow in construction provides a range of documents and samples. They ensure the products and materials used or installed on the project adhere to all relevant specifications, codes and standards. Design professionals, owners, contractors, suppliers, engineers and construction managers receive these documents. The submittal process helps provide a high-quality standard throughout the construction phase. It allows you to identify and resolve potential issues quickly before construction begins.  It’s there to help project managers ensure construction can proceed up to standard. Effective project management is key to streamlining this process. A submittal in construction can include documents like: 
  • product specifications 
  • material safety data sheets (MSDS)
  • safety data sheets (SDS) 
  • warranty certificates
  • physical product samples for materials
  • the owner’s manual and similar documents

Understanding the submittal workflow process

Contractors interested in bidding on a project have to review the documents and conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the project. This includes estimating staff, materials, apparatus, overhead expenses and margin expenses. They may contact subcontractors and suppliers to obtain accurate estimates for certain aspects of the project. The submittal workflow can include the following steps:
  1. Before submitting any submittals, the contractor looks at all the relevant contract documents, including schematics, plans and timelines. It helps them identify the specific requirements and create an appropriate solution.
  2. The general contractor must create and adhere to a submittal schedule, which lists all the necessary documents, samples and other information required from subcontractors and suppliers.
  3. The general contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers must prepare the necessary submittals to be submitted, such as shop drawings, product data, material samples and other vital documents. Subcontractors may submit a construction RFI to get clarity on the project. This can sometimes be the cause of delays.
  4. Before sending it to the design team or construction manager, the contractor reviews the submittals to ensure all contract documents meet the requirements.
  5. The design team, engineers, architects, and construction manager takes a detailed look at the submittals to make sure that the project meets all specifications, regulations and standards. Depending on their findings, they may approve, reject or ask for revisions or extra information.
  6. After the approval, the general contractor will send the submittals to subcontractors and suppliers. This ensures that the project uses only authorized products and materials.
  7. The contractor takes an accurate log of all submittals. This process allows them to track ‌progress and verify that everything is submitted, reviewed and approved in a reasonable time frame.

The importance of submittals in construction

The submittal workflow in construction is important because it creates a consistent process.  Management of this process will reduce the risks for project teams, contractors and stakeholders involved in a project. Fewer errors in this process ensure your construction can move forward smoothly. Managing the approval process for a construction project with digital construction management software makes that process even easier.
  1. You can enjoy a better organizational system, allowing you to track each submittal’s status and history and highlight potential bottlenecks or issues. Consequently, it becomes much easier to get them reviewed and approved quickly.
  2. Construction submittal software improves communication between team members. RedTeam Flex simplifies reviewing, sharing and commenting on submittals, eliminating misunderstandings, rework or delays.
  3. Automated tracking and notifications of submittals supported through construction submittal software can be a real asset. The feature keeps all stakeholders in the loop and sends them alerts regarding due dates, reviews or approvals related to submittals. This helps keep the submission process on schedule and makes sure that all parties are informed of the project’s progress.
  4. Cloud-based submittal software enables teams to collaborate simultaneously from any location. This increases productivity and speeds up the review and approval process. This enhanced collaboration helps streamline workflows and gets tasks completed faster.
  5. Construction management software for submittals often includes reporting and analytics features. These features enable you to track key performance indicators (KPIs) related to the submittal process. Subsequently, helping you identify areas for improvement and optimization of the process over time.
  6. Implementing software to streamline the submittal process can help you save time. It reduces the risk of delays, errors and reworks, resulting in a smoother project with better output.

Submittal workflow best practices

Are you wondering what you can do to improve and better manage the submittal workflow you have? Here are some quick tips:
  • Create a custom submittal workflow. Sticking to a rigid template won’t work for your project’s needs. When choosing a submittal management solution, choose one that can give you the flexibility you need.
  • Make sure the solution you choose can share documents easily. This means having a user-friendly interface, an easy onboarding process‌ and a streamlined communication system accessible in one place.
  • Cloud-based software is the way to go for teams that need to access and update submittal information while reducing delays. It promotes fast collaboration and allows everyone to make changes from any device at any time. This is important so contractors on-site can retrieve information and construction documents easily and hassle-free. 
  • Software solutions allow general contractors to quickly and easily access information from submittal responses given by the architect or owner. When navigating change orders or legal action, this can provide invaluable information to the team.
Watch a demo of RedTeam’s solutions and take charge of your submittal workflow process.