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Hidden Benefits of Connecting Submittal and RFI Workflows

June 18, 2021

By Peg Landry

Project teams often face a challenge on each project - whose construction administration system are we going to use?

Many times, the answer is “all of them”. Design teams often start the project with their system. But the owner or contractor may have another system for processing submittals and RFIs that they prefer to use. In an effort to collaborate and move the project forward, many project teams agree to work with more than one construction administration software platform.

Business impact of manual construction administration workflows.

There may be hidden costs and associated risks when multiple construction administration systems are in play. It requires a lot of manual effort to move information between systems. This may impact the project schedule. And human error, lost emails, and miscommunication can result in rework.

Productivity loss is an obvious. The administrative burden on personnel for duplicate data entry of submittal and RFI information is a time sink hole. And retyping information can also be a major morale killer.

But there are other factors to consider.

The human factor.

There are other issues with workflows that require people to manually transfer information from one system to another. A major factor not often considered is human error. Mistakes are not made intentionally. However, errors can occur when information is re-entered across systems. These types of mistakes may go unnoticed, or they may have a significant impact on the project.

Automating the workflow between CA systems removes the human error factor from the equation. It significantly reduces errors made for mistyped information.

A major business advantage is keeping construction administration information synchronized between systems. This reduces the chance of discrepancies of information and avoids conflict.

Timing is everything.

Transfer of information between systems by email depends on humans to read the email and act. It's not uncommon for emails to be missed or lost when hundreds of project emails are sent and received weekly.

Email relies on humans to forward information to the right people at the right time. Delays in communication, particularly on RFI responses, can certainly impact the project budget and the project schedule. If emails are not forwarded in a timely manner, the submittal review process can be riddled with delay.

Automating the submittals and RFI workflow ensures that information is received in real-time, keeping the project moving forward.

Don’t forget about training.

Many workflows with multiple CA systems require at least one person to log into an unfamiliar system to download and upload attachments and responses. This requires at least one administrator to be trained on the other system. Multiply this across different projects and different combinations of CA systems and time spent in training adds up.

Each party can continue to work in the system they are already familiar with. There is no additional training required.

Keeping construction administration systems in sync.

Another source of hidden costs and risks happen when there is a discrepancy between systems. Issues with error-prone manual processes sometimes do not surface until there is a potential for litigation.

All parties involved in the project require audit trails and documentation. Most firms recognize the need for each firm to maintain their own record of the project – hence the need to maintain separate systems. But if there is a disconnect between systems, which system is accurate? In addition to resolving the problem, project teams must take time to determine where the variance in documentation sets occurred. This is yet another major time sink.

Taking the “human factor” out of the equation reduces the chance of information getting lost, missed, or misfiled. When project teams are able to use the software applications they are familiar with, it not only improves productivity, it reduces risk.

Interoperability: Making the connection.

Newforma and Procore have partnered to solve the problem of issues working in different CA systems. Newforma’s Workflow Connector for Procore automates the transfer of information. Here’s how it works…

“Before” Procore Connector Scenario

Submittals Workflow Before Procore Connector

When multiple CA systems are in play, information has to be moved between them. The General Contractor most often initiates the submittal or RFI in their system.

An email notification is usually sent to the Design Team triggering action to log into the Contractor system to download attachments and record comments, instructions, and RFI questions.

The Design Team must then re-enter that information in their system and upload the attachments. This may result in human error. There is also a chance that someone will forget to log the submittal or RFI.

Once the Design Team completes the review in their system, they must download responses and attachments to upload back in the Contractor’s system. Yet another opportunity for error.

Submittals Workflow After Procore Connector

“After” Procore Connector Scenario

Connecting Newforma Project Center to Procore significantly reduces the number of steps to create, review, and close a submittal.

Team members no longer have to re-enter data and upload or downloading attachments.

Submittals and RFIs are automatically moved between systems without human intervention.

Bottom Line: Interoperability enables you to work in the system you prefer.

The focus for Newforma and Procore is interoperability. It’s about enabling AEC firms to use the software that is the best fit for their business. Newforma’s Workflow Connector for Procore is one example of how project teams can collaborate without the baggage associated with using multiple CA systems.

Project teams can work seamlessly between Newforma and Procore without missing a beat.

Click here for more information on the Newforma Connector for Procore.