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Automating Construction Company Submittals (Construction Management)

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Automating Construction Company Submittals (Construction Management)

Regardless of the field of construction, managing submittals for projects is a process which only grows in complexity as the number and value of projects increase. You may currently be able to manage your construction project submittals with a simple Excel workbook or a log in a Word document, maybe even on pen and paper but that is only at the moment. You need to consider what will happen tomorrow and plan for it. Having an established system and process in place to manage all of your submittals as they begin to increase in quantity, is absolutely crucial.

The best case scenarios with submittals are those that come in and are complete. Submittals which require multiple revisions and involve multiple parties with changing target dates, hinder any manual systems. Trying to keep track of all of the moving pieces as well as for multiple projects can be an overwhelming task where a simple error could affect a project for weeks before being noticed. Having a tool that is designed to handle these scenarios saves hours and hours of staff time. Tracking the status of all pending submittal items provides an automated solution which validates data and reduces simple user errors so one never loses track of any items logged.

A solution that works efficiently to do just this is an Microsoft Excel and Access hybrid. The various managers open an Excel file which communicates with an Microsoft Access database. By each manager having their own Excel file, they are able to configure it to their visual specifications and their working environment. Gone will be the days of asking someone to let you know when they are done with a certain file as the single Access database centralizes all tracking data associated with each submittal. Every manager can see the same information and access it at the same time.

The Excel side of the solution provides an environment that most office employees are already familiar with and comfortable using. It allows graphing and charting of data to generate reports. Pivot charts and tables can be used just like with any other Excel workbook to generate informative dashboards as to the statuses of all pending items. You can even provide some type of pop-up window pointing to those items which have missed a target date. Excel also sends information back to the database so new submittals can be created, delete or edited as necessary.

The MS Access side centralizes all the submittal data, file locations, images, and statuses removing the common share violation, where multiple users are trying to use the same Excel file at the same time. Database relationships provide a solution to keep submittals connected to their projects and the previous or following steps. It prevents losing track of files as the most recent as the database keeps all entries and changes time stamped. This approach also removes the performance issues that happen when an Excel file becomes too heavy with formulas and data, by placing this overhead on the database.

Now, when it comes time to handle a submittal there is no need to rifling through folders to find the files you need, you open the single Excel submittal app and manage it from there. Working on a new project? Select it from a drop down list. Have a new submittal you need to log into the system? Click a button. Need to generate a report of all pending submittals? Choose a report format from a list and press print. Have a new manager that needs to track submittals? Give them a copy of the Excel file. Regardless if it’s logging new submittals or getting new managers to track them, everything involved in the process gets streamlined.

Interested in implementing the same or similar process at your company? Contact our team today and lets discuss for free.