Construction RFI: Best Practices

The successful and timely completion of any construction project calls for steadfast communication and collaboration. This is why stakeholders and project managers prioritize RFI (request for information). It streamlines the process, ensuring that the involved parties can request information and obtain relevant replies within the stipulated time frame.

Considering the wide plethora of features in RFI software, it makes sense to use these tools for better collaboration. In this article, the experts have explained the best practices to adhere to while using construction RFI. However, you can also check out Bridgit for more useful information.

What Is RFI, And Who Is Involved In It?

RFI stands for request for information. Professionals in the construction industry use these documents or forms to clarify possible uncertainties.  When using an RFI, you can fill in information gaps regarding the contract, plans, specifications, and other aspects.

The prime objective of the RFI process is to do away with the expensive and time-consuming corrective actions during the life cycle of a project. During construction, RFI is needed to resolve gaps in information and make specific decisions by eliminating ambiguities.

Generally, a subcontractor or contractor submits a written RFI to gather information from an engineering, construction, or design professional. The information that was not originally included in the contraction contract would be furnished in an RFI.

Generally, two or more parties are involved in an RFI. The contractor or subcontractor submits the document to the designer or client. This is the person who had provided the document at the beginning. The recipient needs to come up with a response according to the question under consideration.

Best Practices Of Construction RFI

1. Be Upfront In Addressing Any RFI

The process of construction in a traditional project happens to be linear. First, the designers and architects needs to complete the designing process and deliver the same to the contractors. Therefore, the need for an RFI generally arises at this point.

The lack of proper communication and interpretation hamper collaboration. Being upfront to discuss the anomalies would significantly reduce the need for RFIs. Therefore, the involved parties need to discuss the main points right at the outset.

As a result, constructability experts must contribute their thoughts into the design process as early as possible. This process can address possible issues in the design phase itself. However, once the project proceeds to the construction stage, incorporating changes becomes expensive.

2. Focus On The Context

Without the proper context, the recipient might not be able to comprehend the points you wish to convey in an RFI. Often, you might accidentally put forward a question, assuming from your experience or knowledge that the other party would be on the same page.

Misinterpretations in understanding can consume time unnecessarily. Therefore, before dispatching your request, ensure that the recipient has some prior knowledge about it.

An RFI, when properly contextualized, should convey the very nature of the anomaly. It should clearly inform the party being impacted and the place where information is lacking. This ensures more clarity to all the parties involved.

3. Prioritize Visual Communication

After all, pictures, as many say, speak louder than words. This cliché perfectly suits the context of RFIs. Make sure to attach drawings, photos, and videos in the RFI tools to avoid confusion. Even a rough sketch might serve the purpose.

This will foster better understanding and collaboration with the recipient. With visuals, the other party can directly get to the point. The context becomes much more focused when you deploy visuals in communication.

4. Recommend Possible Solutions

To prevent wasting time, you might recommend possible solutions to the recipients when using an RFI. This would also prevent the recipient from delaying the reply, stating that they need to look into the matter.

Practically, when you request an RFI, you must have the position and professional dexterity to recommend the necessary solution to the other party. Therefore, you remain bang on point right from the outset, expressing what needs to be done. After all, you wouldn’t go for the RFI if you didn’t have a proper answer.

5. Use A Platform To Track Documents

The manual process of tracking RFIs turns out to be a Herculean task. This is why project managers presently use software and advanced systems to track documents. Evidently, all the involved parties would be updated to the latest status of the document. Generally, the communications and approvals are made through emails that lack visibility and standardizations. Therefore, field teams and project managers need to use RFIs for updates and status.

Most advanced tools currently enable subcontractors to keep track of the RFI right from its creation, thereby storing the relevant information until the answer is obtained.

Besides, a standardized RFI form is available with RFI platforms. This ensures that every RFI has a similar format. As a result, the recipient can easily find the desired information and respond to the same.

Additional Guidelines To Work On Construction RFI

  • Channelize adequate time to comprehend the construction documents and review them during the pre-construction period.
  • The construction team would need a detailed understanding of the process, which you need to explain to each participant.
  • Classify theRFIs according to their priorities and use a system to rank them as per their urgency.
  • Also, deploy a system to address unresolved RFIs when they keep piling considerably.
  • Check the contract documents of a project before writing the RFIs and confirm the answer to your query.
  • The RFI name should be unique so that the recipient does not confuse it with other RFIs.
  • A standardized form for RFI would be needed, and you need to assign them with suitable numbers.
  • The questions you put forward through an RFI should be relevant. However, do not use RFIs as tools to express your viewpoints or disagreements.

Endnote

Walking in the shoes of an architect, designer, or project leader, you need to be prompt and cooperative while dealing with RFIs. This will enhance your goodwill and help all the involved parties complete the project.

Use one of the advanced RFI tools to streamline the communication process. This would also help you keep track of the entire communication process.

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