On-Time Construction Document Management: Introducing Approval Workflows for BIM 360

January 11, 2019 Joan Allen

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about construction document management best practices for construction project teams, and the benefits of things like information availability, versioning, and access to information from any device.

As more and more project teams begin to digitize their document management processes on a single cloud platform like BIM 360, it becomes more important than ever to have a way to tightly control when information is made available, and make sure that the information shared is accurate and ready for consumption.

Furthermore, industry mandates like PAS 1192 and the upcoming ISO 19650 standard, are requiring construction project teams to take steps to standardize the flow of project data and information, making it that much more important to employ a Common Data Environment that can meet the demands for controlled distribution of information.


Construction Document Management Reviews

We’re excited to introduce the “Reviews” capability in BIM 360, offering approval workflow for any file type. This new capability makes it much easier to keep the whole team involved in the review of information prior to it being distributed to a broader group. The process also provides complete transparency to the whole project team -- making sure that information distribution meets the agreed upon methods and standards.

Every contractor has a process for this. After all, no one wants the wrong information being distributed. But it is not always an easy process, and it almost always takes a number of people, applications and steps to get it done. And no one likes complicated processes.

This new Reviews process changes that. It provides construction project teams with the ability to:

  • Tightly control and organize the flow of project information
  • Put both structure and timelines around the organization and control of documents, ensuring that all information paths follow an agreed upon and consistent process
  • Move from tracking “what was looked at” to a true status of documents to drive accuracy and transparency
  • Easily review files to be moved through different stages of a project, such as a Work in progress set of files to a shared folder - or a group of shared files - to a published state. 


Approvals Workflow-2The BIM 360 approval workflow makes it simple to provide a controlled, traceable process for the approval and distribution of any document, plan or model.




Here’s a look at how it works:


#1. Customizable Approval Workflows

With lots of different document types and stakeholders, it is important to be able to customize the approval process to account for the who, what, and when of approvals. Built on a flexible workflow engine in BIM 360, you can set up approval workflows that are 1, 2, or 3-step approvals. This allows you to keep things simple when only one person is involved, or include additional reviewers as needed.

For each of these processes, there are clearly defined roles: initiator, reviewer and approver. Each of these roles can be assigned to a specific user, a role (like Project Manager) or a company. How you choose to assign these roles will depend on your specific project procedures.

Once an approval workflow is setup, it is saved as a template and can be assigned to any set of documents that need to be reviewed and approved. Furthermore, each step of a workflow can be labeled to clearly communicate the action that needs to be performed, for example the step can be labeled quality review, technical review or similar.



With BIM 360, you can easily setup approval workflow process templates for document reviews that can be used for specific types of documents that need to follow the same review path.


#2. Robust Review Capabilities

One of the biggest benefits of handling review processes in BIM 360 is that all of the documents are already in one place, along with the functionality necessary to view, compare, and markup the documents being reviewed. There is no need for team members to open files from one application, mark them up in another, and potentially move them to even another application once reviewed. Any file type can be included in a review, including a mix of PDFs, sheets, and models.



With pre-configured templates available, submitting documents for approval is simple and team members can review, comment on, and approve or reject documents all from BIM 360.


#3. Clear Tracking of the Workflow

Once a set of documents has been submitted to the approval workflow process, the team needs to be able to track the status of the review.  BIM 360 makes this simple by showing a log of all reviews, with indicators of who initiated it, who is responsible for the next action, when it is due and the status of documents.

This level of transparency helps those in charge of document distribution keep the process on track. The approval workflow can also be configured to copy files from one folder to another once approved, For example, moving from a WIP folder to a shared folder.

Email notification capabilities are built in, alerting both those who need to take action on a review (by user, role, or company) and also allowing for additional team members to be notified of the status of the approval (i.e. the initial creator of the documents or a project manager).



Notifications to project team members and tracking of the status of documents is all available from a single screen.


Centralized and digital document management is the foundation of more collaborative project workflows, and must be balanced with structure and process. The new Reviews capability in BIM 360 provides team with this structure and process by:

  • Enabling Document Managers to facilitate, control and automate the review and distribution process of drawings, models, and other documents.

  • Providing project team members with an easy, intuitive experience for reviewing, commenting on, and approving project documents.

This capability, combined with the robust document management and control capabilities of the Common Data Platform in BIM 360, gives project teams the confidence that they are always working from the right documents.

Previous Article
How YOU Can Drive Construction Innovation Throughout Your Organization
How YOU Can Drive Construction Innovation Throughout Your Organization

 Many efforts to drive construction innovation and improve the industry involve limited solutions developed...

Next Article
A Look Back at 2018: Our 5 Most Popular Construction Technology Posts
A Look Back at 2018: Our 5 Most Popular Construction Technology Posts

As we start an exciting new year, we asked a few of our readers to tell us which of our articles from this ...