Decision Support System for Value-Based Evaluation and Conditional Approval of Construction Submittals
Sherbini, Khaled Ali
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To ensure compliance with specifications during construction, a formal review process, called the submittals process is typically implemented, whereby the contractor is required to submit proposals for materials, equipment, and processes for the owner’s approval within a short period of time. This procedure can be a difficult task because of lack of time, lack of information in the submittal package, difficulty in retrieving related data, and lack of defined criteria for evaluation. This research introduces development of a framework for submittal evaluation that considers the operational impact of any minor variation in the required specifications. The evaluation mechanism uses the Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT) approach, which is adaptable to the varying requirements of organizations. Through the process of analyzing the current submittal mechanism, a list of key submittals is defined and the top one (chiller) is selected to be the focus of the research. The governing criteria (evaluation parameters) are defined for the selected submittal item and categorized into two categories: inflexible and flexible. The inflexible parameters have been dealt with using checklists with predefined threshold that must be met without tolerance. Flexible parameters have been analyzed using utility functions that represent decision maker preferences and tolerance levels. Accordingly, the evaluation process considers multi-parameters to determine an overall utility for the submittal and the value-based condition for accepting it, incorporating LEED requirements. The investigation is based on data provided by three main organizations, as well as intensive meetings and interviews with experts from each participating organization. The outcome of this investigation is the development of evaluation criteria and checklist parameters that are used as the basis of a value-based evaluation, which is the core of the developed decision support system. In summary, it has been demonstrated that a decision support system for the evaluation of construction submittals can be constructed and that it will provide numerous benefits: an expedited decision process, an audit trail for decisions, more consistent and objective decisions, risk identification, internal alignment of organizational values, and improved lifecycle asset performance. The benefits were validated by demonstration, and by experts' evaluations.