When it comes to construction projects, seamless communication ensures the timely completion of the involved processes. With too many stakeholders and moving parts, uncertainties may crop up at different project points. This is why construction RFIs are there to deal with such uncertainties.
This ensures that stakeholders have adequate information to complete the task successfully. In this article, experts have developed a comprehensive guide to enhance your RFI process.
What Is An RFI?
Simply defined, RFI stands for request for information. In general, this information is passed among different parties through a document or form. It sorts for information through possible responses, particularly when the process involves a subcontractor.
Whether a party wants to propose a change, request clarification, or focus on a problem with a project, the RFI process needs to be followed.
What Are The Prime Components In A Construction RFI?
Typically, construction RFIs are necessary to clear out things and prevent ambiguity from creating confusion. Therefore, you need to focus on the RFI structure to avoid possible chances of confusion. Look at some of the common elements present in most construction RFIs.
- The details of the project, including the address, name, and other information for identifying it
- The details of the addresser, including contact details and company name
- RFI number that comes with zero at the beginning
- A short description along with a title
- A comprehensive explanation of the RFI
- A space to include the concern of the respondent
- Date of submitting the RFI, along with the response deadline
- A description of any document that might be attached
Tips To Upgrade The RFI Process
1. Carry Out Detailed Discussions At The Outset
A useful tip in upgrading the RFI process is to ensure that before the project begins, make sure to discuss the major questions or difficulties with the other participants.. Experts recommend looping in the architects, engineers, contractors, and general contractors. When you address these crucial points initially, you can avoid RFIs as the project continues.
With early meetings, you can benefit by obtaining relevant answers about the desired process of the RFI. The secret to success in the process lies in upfront collaboration and discussion.
2. Deploy Cloud-Based Tools For Project Management
While spreadsheets have been a thing of the past, it is highly recommended to use sophisticated software based on the cloud system for project management. In the process, the project managers and on-site professionals can interact and collaborate virtually. They can also find solutions for possible questions and detect issues.
Traditionally, managing RFIs through spreadsheets can be a time-consuming pursuit. Besides, project managers find it difficult to track the RFIs. It is easy to manage multiple RFIs and connect with the respective authorities in a project instantly with cloud-based tools. This would leverage the productivity of your business at the end of the day.
3. RFI Questions Should Be Precise
Asking a specific question in an RFI to the owner or general contractor streamlines the process. Typically, you should send a single RFI for each question. Each RFI should have a specific question and answer. Therefore, asking multiple questions in an RFI would lead to confusion.
4. Go For Photographic Representation If Possible
Chances of landing up in confusion during translating ideas would be high indeed. Using photos for representing information works wonders, as they convey ideas perfectly. The party receiving the RFI can get a good view of the idea when using photos. You can thus keep away anomalies in comprehending the information. Pictures, graphs, or photos, will help you explain your points better to the parties involved.
5. Working On The Response Time
Of course, you should expect the project to be on time. Whenever you dispatch an RFI, the recipient should come up with a response within a stipulated time. Therefore, your RFI should clearly convey that you need the response within the stipulated time to prevent a delay in the project.
If any delay occurs due to the non-response of the recipient on time, the respective party would be held responsible. Failing to specify the due date of response would eventually delay the entire process. With advanced software for RFI, you can enjoy inbuilt features such as reminders.
6. Reviewing The Response
Being meticulous while reviewing the response is a good habit. When you receive a response, you need to scrutinize it for accuracy and depth. In case the answer is not clear, you can simply resend the RFI.
You may also consider including a recommendation that would ease up the task for the recipient to address the question with a satisfactory answer. If your project involves subcontracting, you can also prevent confusion by recommending a solution.
7. Store The RFI Files In An Organized Way
One of the best practices of upgrading your RFI process is to store the response in a secured way. You need to organize all the RFI files properly to ensure that you find the relevant documents when needed. Try to arrange a mechanism that would help you to track the RFIs.
Some of the construction firms deploy a trusty spreadsheet to keep an account. This document should have the following details:
- RFI send date
- the name of the request, and
- the date when it is answered.
Ensure that everyone updates the log and saves the same version of the log on their drives. With construction software, these logs can be centralized.
8. Keep Everyone On The Same Page
A seamless RFI process involves proper communication. When you manage complex construction projects, you need to ensure that every team member knows the RFI status. Get every party involved in case you decide to use one of the recommended tools.
When all the team members get visibility, the overall process will pacify. Moreover, it would foster a better collaborative effort from all fronts.
Considering the challenges in a typical RFI process, it is highly recommended to use advanced software such as CM Fusion, ProCore, RFPIO, and ContentSnare. This would ease up the process of dealing with multiple requests and their respective answers. If you are new to the field and facing issues in the RFI process, make sure to reach out to experts. They can help you seamlessly strengthen your RFI process.