FabSuite Workflow… Getting Started

Clients often ask ‘what is the best way to get started in FabSuite?’   My answer is always to just start using the program, and do your work in same manner as your current workflow dictates.  FabSuite is for document and materials management, meaning the program keeps track of everything, you just need to enter the data.

For many companies, the job begins upon receipt of the Notice to Proceed.  This event marks the beginning of the paperwork, so my suggestion is to open a new Project Management job to support this paperwork management.  Open FabSuite, click the Project Management tab, enter the job number, job name and then select all the job team players of which you are aware, and then save the new entry.  Any data entered into Project Management may be changed and added to later – with the exception of the job number.  Job numbers become fixed as soon as the job is saved, so if you’ve made a mistake there – start over.

For specific instruction on how to add a new job, see the March 31, 2017 blog entry has complete coverage.  Find additional Blog entries moving forward into the year for adding shop drawings, making transmittals, and installing change orders.   In these blog articles you will find working information which is intended to help you in your FabSuite journey.

Get started in Fabsuite by:

  • Adding a Project Management Job
  • Adding documents to the Design Drawing Log
  • Adding notes and attachment to Journal Entries
  • Adding document items to Document Index

Adding a new project management job is a process which includes adding job contact information for those who will be sending and receiving documents, then following with saving all current documents which are to be used.  This might include the purchase order, contract drawings, specifications, job pertinent emails, notes on meetings and anything else which is important to the job.


When adding Contacts into Project Management, we begin to understand the need for ‘Firm Types’ in the Address book.  ‘Firm Types’ are a filtering system FabSuite uses to help minimize the list of contacts to review and select from in your address book.  For example – if your contact has a firm type as ‘Contractor’, then when you select ‘Contractor’ from the firm type list in the Project Management window, the only selections available will then be your list of contractors.  Further, if you begin typing the name of the contact in the field for contact, you can jump through the list to the exact selection you want.  Having all the job contacts, inclusive of email address is important for ease of use when sending documents by email out of FabSuite.

Add Documents:

After adding a new job, I would next add all of my pertinent paperwork items into Document Index.  If your company is using the Estimating Module, all estimating paperwork may be linked to that project management by a selection in the Estimate Edit window.  This ‘link’ then provides automatic access to all of the documents saved in Estimating Document Index, eliminating the need for searching and saving specific documents to Project Management.  However, not having the ability to pull linked documents from estimating is not fatal – adding documents and drawings to Project Management takes little time.  For some, deciding WHERE to save these items takes longer than the actual work, as there are places for everything.  We will go through each save location here, but for more in depth work look to the blog articles, the user manuals and maybe option for some online or onsite training to get started.

Contract Drawings and Specifications:

There is a separate storage file in the Drawing log for Design drawings.  You can upload the Contract drawings to the ‘Design’ side of the Drawing Log in Project Management, either as separate sheet drawings or as a binder file.

The project specifications may be to the design log as well.  When bringing in the design drawings as individual PDF’s, the revisions may be ‘stacked’ in the same what we do it in the detail drawing side.  Importing them in as binder files is good enough for some people, and this is just fine, too.  However it is done, the Design side is there in Project Management specifically for these drawings.









In the Project Management window, see the ‘Drawing Log’ section in the top center.  Directly underneath the words ‘Drawing Log’ are the tabs for ‘Design’ and ‘Detail’.  Those buttons open the next window for entering and viewing the drawings.  Note that after the word ‘Design’ there is ‘0’, meaning there are no drawings in this file.  After the word ‘Detail’, there is ‘55’, meaning that there are 55 documents in this file.  We can see the list of drawings and current revision listed there, and when we click on the tab for ‘Detail’ the window opens for managing and reporting on those drawings.  The ‘Design’ log window is very similar to the one for ‘Detail’.







In the above screen shot, I have added a binder set of drawings, labeled them as ‘A and S drawings’ and noted in ‘Category’ that these are the original bid set.  Now anytime I need to refer to something in these drawings, they are all right there.  As new sets or sheets come in, I would put them all in this same place.  When I send these drawings out by transmittal, the latest transmittal information shows in the top right of the window.  I may also pull a report on drawing activity at any time.  Best part is, I no longer have to do my own data entry for tracking.

Journal Entries:

Referring back to the Project Management entry window, note the bottom center selection for ‘Journal Entries’.









Right after the word for ‘Journal Entries’ there is ‘2’, meaning that there are two entries in there, and we can see them in the list together with the date/time stamp.  Click the ‘Journal Entries’ tab to open the window.








Journal Entries is where I keep all my day to day information.  Every telephone call and every email that is pertinent to the project goes here.  The ‘Attached Files’ button allows me to browse anywhere in my computer or network to add files, even emails and email attachments to these journal entries.  Once added to this window, I no longer need to separately manage my emails.  What a time saver that is.

Document Index:

Any document may be saved in Document Index.  I would use Document Index to save any thing else which I did not have saved in the Design drawing log or in Journal Entries.






Document Index is accessed in the ‘Select Project Management Job’ window.  This location is ‘outside’ the file itself to allow linking to Estimating and Production Control.  When you ‘link’ Estimating to Project Management, and Production Control to Project Management, all documents are shared for use by all – it’s a great feature!







In the above screen shot, you can see that the list of documents comes from Estimating and Production Control, but I am viewing them while working in the Project Management module.  I don’t have to chase down estimating to source their data, and I can see the information saved in Production Control.  So now you might see why I say that you might spend more time deciding where items should be saved as it might be helpful to have some standards for data sharing.

Notice the ‘navigation tree’ on the left side of the window.  This is actually the list of folders in which files may be stored.  Once you decide what your company standards are for saving data, you could then enter the list in the maintenance window for Document Index – Standard Categories, and then everyone would have the same share file list to work from.

There is much to discuss when taking about FabSuite Workflow, but I wanted to just review the basic beginnings for the paperwork, because that is where most of us do begin the work.  I believe the FabSuite workflow is something which will be an ongoing blog here and so next week we will continue on.

For now, we have covered how to get started in Fabsuite by:

  • Adding a Project Management Job
  • Adding documents to the Design Drawing Log
  • Adding notes and attachment to Journal Entries
  • Adding document items to Document Index

Be sure to review the blog posts for information on Project Management –

  • New Job Setup (March 31, 2017),
  • Project Management – Adding Drawings to the Drawing log (April 11, 2017),
  • Project Management – Transmittals (May 3, 2017),
  • Project Management – Journal Entries (June 7, 2017),
  • Project Management – Managing Change Orders (July 26, 2017),
  • Linking FabSuite Modules (September 28, 2016)

We will discuss the Project Schedule option available with Project Management in the next Blog installment.  This feature is a great management tool, is very easy to learn and expand upon as your job matures.  Until then, we hope you have picked up some useful tips with managing your documents here!


Written by Kerri Olsen

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