Throughout the life-cycle of any construction project, documents represent an essential building block and managing transmittals is top priority. Each and every construction professional has to deal with loads of documents in a way or another by either submitting leaves, claims, daily employees attendance, AFPs, RFIs, or exchanging documents and engineering drawings with third parties.
We all know that the construction industry is one of the least digitized industry and most projects (if not all) are suffering delivery delays and they are exceeding their initial budget. For that, old methods of managing transmittals and information has to be changed to drive more operation efficiency thus helping in reduce the project delays and minimizing costs.
Construction companies must start transitioning from paper based documents to digital ones and work on a proper plan to implement project level document control system, document management system, or Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution specialized in this field to drive the flow of information, control the document life-cycle. and manage the exchange of content including transmittals between different parties involved.
In this blog post, we will talk about how documents are sent between clients, contractors, subcontractors, vendors officially and how using an ECM solution specialized in construction will give you the power of creating and maintaining these communications digitally using transmittals.
Usually engineering and construction activities are performed as a collaboration between different parties such as client, construction company, subcontractors, suppliers. Without a digital platform to help control, maintain, manage the exchange of large number of documents with multiple revisions, will certainly have an negative effect on the construction project budget and delays in handing over.
When different parties involved in construction need to exchange documents formally, they should be sent as a transmittal.
A transmittal is a formal exchange of documents including engineering drawings, contracts, submittals, and plans between different parties during the lifecycle of a construction project. it forms the purpose of allowing these parties to review, comment, or approve related documents’ versions and often used as an evidence in the event of a claim or lawsuit. Since transmittals need to be tracked, it is very essential to have a full audit trail reflecting their status at any stage during the construction phase.
Having the ability to digitally manage construction transmittals using an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution will allow your organization to control the flow of documents throughout the construction project life-cycle and provide much needed functionalities such as
- Simplify the creation and management of transmittals.
- Easily locate and have access to transmittals documents in their original formats.
- Making sure the correct version of the document is being sent to other parties. This is very essential in construction as using an older version of a drawing can have dramatic effect.
- Automatic transmittal coversheet generation.
- Digitally log each transmittal sent and received for future reference.
- Having a complete audit trail of transmittals (which document versions were sent, who received what, date and time, etc.)
- Built in transmittals security management (who can send a transmittal, who will receive a transmittal, etc.).
- Automatic notifications of each received transmittal through emails.
- Efficient and secure delivery of large transmittals between different stakeholders.
- Automate the distribution of documents to concerned parties.
Most of the time, a transmittal coversheet will contain the following:
- Sending date.
- Sender and recipient details.
- Project name and other references of the project.
- Reason(s) for sending.
- Deadline(s) and/or descriptions of actions to be taken by recipient.
- Transmittal acknowledgment date.
- List of documents sent including type, revision number and other relevant metadata.
Some ECM solutions available in the market have developed a vertical module targeting the construction industry on top of their content suite to manage transmittals and keep record of their status for future reference.
Transmittals differ by their types: Incoming, Outgoing and internal. in this section, we will detail each transmittal type and the advantages of having these transmittals managed digitally.
As the naming hints, all documents received officially by an external party or entity should be logged as incoming transmittal. The Document controller will check the transmittal coversheet including attachments and acknowledge receiving them by signing the cover sheet and create the incoming transmittal in the system which is usually followed up by creating an internal transmittal (to be discussed later) to be distributed to the concerned group(s) or department(s) for review, comment, and approval.
Ultimately if the client and the contractor use the same solution, the client would create an outgoing transmittal (transmittal cover sheet should be automatically generated) and the receiver will be notified about the received transmittal (incoming) to take action.
Outgoing transmittals are packages that a party would like to officially notify the second party about.
The document controller can use the ECM solution to send documents to other stakeholders as an outgoing transmittal. A user friendly ECM solution will allow document controllers to easily locate relevant documents and automatically generate the coversheet which has direct impact on employees productivity and process effectiveness.
Having the ability to access all outgoing transmittals, their related documents, and their status in addition to easily locate a certain transmittal is the ultimate goal for all document controllers.
Once the document controller receive an incoming transmittal (documents / drawings), an internal transmittal should be distributed as soon as possible to the concerned parties for review, comments, and approvals following the distribution matrix.
When creating an internal transmittal, the document controller should be able to select the recipients (groups or individual users) or have it predefined on a based on specific document types and upon creation, the recipients should be notified by email detailing the documents attached, their metadata, and the ability to download their attachments directly.
Currently most of the construction companies are still managing transmittals manually which is a time consuming process not to mention the high possibility of human errors.
Managing transmittals digitally using an ECM solution provide lots of benefits:
- Increase productivity.
- Reduce cost.
- Minimize the risk for construction projects delay.
- Minimize risk of working on old versions and information falling into the wrong hands.
- Complete audit trail.
- Increase transparency.