We have all heard the saying time is money. This especially holds true in the construction industry where one small setback has the ability to derail an entire project off course, both financially and time wise.
Requests for information, or more commonly known as RFIs, are more than just inquiries about a current project. They are a formal written process that documents the clarification of plans, drawings, specifications and agreements between contractors, designer, supplier, subcontractors etc. It can be used to discuss construction items, timing and schedule, design change or clarification, change in process, omissions in specs or plans, material change, value engineering, utility conflict and or any other issues.
RFIs are a project management tracking tool to keep all these documents traced and recorded for both legal and organizational purposes so you can build correctly and deliver high-quality projects on time and on budget.
However, when it comes to managing RFIs, many construction businesses struggle to do so effectively. There can be hundreds of pending RFIs and if there isn’t a process in place to manage them, information might be missed, or documents might end up lost.
With the help of construction management software, this process has become a lot easier for construction businesses to control. To fully optimize your process, here are a few best practices to keep in mind.
Best practices for sending an RFI in construction management software
- Before sending an RFI, you should be able to answer the 5 W’s & H.
- Who will be impacted and who should be involved?
- What is the issue and what tasks must be completed?
- Where on the job site/drawings/is the budget impacted?
- Why is this important- is there a time, cost or legal implication?
- When is the response required and when are the impacted parties to be informed by?
- How will the issue be resolved? How are you proposing it be resolved? How does this impact the job? Is there a change order, budget transfer etc.
- Provide enough detail. If there is not enough information this can cause confusion and delay the project, as more time will be required for clarification. Avoid vague and generic comments and clearly identify the issue or inquiry that must be resolved. Provide some background information but ensure you only include relevant facts that pertain to the question you have asked.
- Provide relevant documentation such as images, drawings or other documentation. Do not include unnecessary documents or information as this can confuse the recipient.
- To avoid further delays, send requests as soon as you discover the need for additional information so this way, you have all the supporting documents.
- Limit each RFI to 1 topic. This will prevent questions from slipping through the cracks. If there is information overload and too many topics in the RFI there is a risk that no answer will be received and the project could become delayed.
- When choosing recipients to include, ensure you are not including the wrong person. Only those who are directly involved should be included. This means anyone who was not involved or will not be impacted by the request should be excluded to avoid confusion.
There may be scenarios when you receive an RFI such as when you’re working with subcontractors. It’s important that you also respond accordingly to ensure there are no confusions or delays.
Tips for responding to RFIs in construction project management software
- Always provide a definitive response and leave nothing to interpretation. When multiple options are presented there is a risk that different approaches will be followed by multiple recipients. Clearly state your recommendation I.e. use clear verbiage such as “We will paint the room blue”, instead of “We can paint the room red or blue. I like blue”.
- Do not guess at what the issuer is trying to ask. Ensure you research the issue or ask relevant questions via a documented email. Verbal conversations are okay, but bear in mind paper trails such as emails between recipients can hold more credibility in case of a dispute.
- Respond in a timely fashion. The rule of thumb is to respond back within a week. The longer the questions go unanswered, the bigger chance of delay.
Managing RFIs in Premier Construction Software
Premier Construction Software makes it easier than ever for construction companies to manage RFIs all from one platform. Premier allows you to create RFIs, track responses, and view all applicable RFI’s for specific jobs.
By sending emails directly from the software, Premier helps minimize the no-response rate which is a likely cause of disputes in contracts. You can efficiently and conveniently track who you have received responses from and send reminder emails to those who have not. The system will automatically update the status of the RFI once the user responds. Users also have the option to manually add responses that could have taken place verbally over the phone.
Premier also offers the flexibility to attach documents and drawings to RFIs. This ensures everyone involved has the information required to effectively make a decision and no documents are lost. For a quick audit on the status of all RFIs, users can easily generate reports for different jobs to review outstanding responses, and address pending items as quickly as possible to help avoid delays.
To learn more about Premier Construction Software and how it can improve your RFI process, get in touch with us today.