The construction submittal process has typically moved at a snail’s pace, which is a challenge for contractors who are working on more complex projects than ever before.
A submittal package can include thousands of pages, and depending on the level of detail and accuracy involved, the entire approval process can take weeks, even months, if not executed properly. Failure to follow a defined process and catch problems early on can lead to costly delays in getting the right materials in the right place at the right time.
What is a submittal?
A submittal is a collection of contractor material documents that is delivered to architects, engineers and consultants before a project begins. It gives these design professionals a chance to review project details to promote safety, efficiency, quality, functionality and compliance, as well as avoid any potential lawsuits.
Some of the documents included in an average submittal include material samples, shop drawings, technical data, product specifications and color selections. Ultimately, submittals help ensure the following:
- A quality project finishes on time and within budget.
- Work conditions are safe for crew members.
- Structures are safe for the client and all intended occupants.
- Building systems have the right utility connections.
- The completed project matches initial design specifications.
- Pre-fabricated items are ordered correctly.
Here are four ways you can get quicker submittal approvals for your job site:
Establish metrics for your construction submittal process
Whether through detailed reports or activity summaries, it’s important to stay organized by establishing goals and tracking progress during your construction submittal process. Additionally, be sure to consistently share that information with your crew members and subcontractors.
A great way to stay organized with a formal workflow is by accomplishing the following tasks:
- Set standards that aim to earn approval within two reviews.
- Standardize submittal forms by making sure they’re clear and consistent.
- Create a checklist of key actions that need to be completed.
- Pre-screen proposed submittals by training your staff to catch red flags right away.
- Implement team assignments that bolster workload accountability.
- Develop a detailed revision letter template that is clear and concise.
- Embrace technology through automated solutions.
You’ll work more efficiently with a formal routine and workflow, especially when you’re working with numerous documents. Remember, the more time you spend reviewing the first round of submittals, the less work you’ll have to do later.
Work with the right reviewers
During the construction submittal process, it’s important to utilize qualified reviewers who have vast experience, from residential jobs to commercial projects. It’s also helpful to leverage experienced staff to help train newcomers when it comes to pre-screening and reviewing.
Additionally, be sure to assign a realistic number of reviews to staff. Understand their workloads and skillsets to divvy work accordingly.
Practice strong communication
Communication is key to speeding up the construction submittal process because it will help you avoid resubmittals later on. For starters, it doesn’t hurt to hold a weekly submittal review with your design professionals. If you can validate that everyone has eyes on the correct documents, you can build trust and goodwill with your team, which will lead to improved efficiency.
In addition to following an established workflow and attending regular reviews, encourage your team to verbally communicate clear and accurate instructions to one another. It’s important to develop these direct communication skills early on in a project in order to avoid misunderstandings and errors.
Edit submittals in one place
There are many people involved in the average submittal, which is why it’s helpful to manage documents in one place so no one is working in a silo. A centralized document management system will help you keep track of progress and build accountability within your team.
Additionally, having all documents in one place will come in handy when it comes to resubmitting proposals. (NOTE: In the event a proposal receives partial approvals, be sure to resubmit the entire package after you make changes. This will help you make sure the approval includes the whole picture.)
Ultimately, you want to make it easy for you and your team members to work with the right documents in order to speed up the construction submittal process.