Every construction project requires submittals, materials, and equipment.  So why do so many Contractors omit procurement activities from their construction schedules?  Often, Contractors rely on either Excel spreadsheets or Primavera’s Expedition to track the status of submittals, number of days for Engineer review, and the delivery of materials and equipment.  While Primavera’s Expedition is good for tracking multiple submittal revisions, it fails to illustrate the impact of these submittals on construction projects.  Sometimes Contractors include the submittals in their schedules but often leave the activity open while the submittal is going through multiple revisions, or they actualize the completion of the submittal after the initial submittal is returned.

Updating and adding activities for multiple submittal revisions might seem time consuming, but can be very beneficial in determining the source of delays or projecting the last possible date the submittal should be completed.  Inputting submittal, approval and fabrication/delivery activities for projects that require specialty equipment with long lead times, like pump stations, can be beneficial to both the Contractor and the Owner in determining the criticality of a particular item.  This can help the Contractor in obtaining quicker responses to submittals that are critical in the construction schedule.

On a small pump station project, W&A completed a project schedule that contained 300 construction activities and over 600 procurement activities, which included discreet activities for submit, approve, fabricate and deliver.  By the time the project was over the number of procurement activities had grown to well over 1,000.  Again, the number of activities might seem overwhelming and difficult to manage, but out of 33 construction schedules, almost 22 of the updates had procurement items as the lead critical path.  The multiple submittal revisions for the actuators drove the critical path through 5 months of updates, and eventually were the last pieces of equipment to be installed.  Who is responsible for this delay?  Primavera’s Expedition can accurately show the number of days for submittal approvals and the number of multiple revisions, but how can one determine if these submittals are critical?

By inserting discreet activities for submittal and approval and determining the approximate days of lead time, it is easy to revisit the schedule and identify whose responsible, if submittal review times were excessive, or if the Contractor did not complete the submittals in a timely fashion.  By assigning activity codes for the submittal’s specification section, the Contractor can easily determine the equipment with the longest lead times, the items that typically would require multiple submittal revisions, and even assist the project managers in identifying exactly what is required per the contract.

With over 300 specifications in the typical construction contract, it is relatively easy to overlook some contract requirements and specifications.  The effort involved in the beginning of the project might seem arduous, but as the project progresses, it helps the Contractor avoid overlooking submittals when the construction project has advanced, and the equipment or material is required.  It’s always better to spend the time inserting these activities before the project starts rather than adding them as needed, otherwise how would one determine whether or not the activity is critical?  Remember, in order to prove an excusable-compensable delay the Contractor must prove that the impact or the impacted sequence of activities were in fact driving the critical path.