4 Steps to a Better RFI Workflow

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On a project, some requests for information (RFIs) are more complicated or urgent than others. One might be answered with a simple response; another may result in a change order that has a major impact on the project. Informal RFIs from the customer contrast with formal RFIs involving information from multiple teams that could potentially result in change orders on the job. Either way, each RFI needs to be answered to keep a job on track. In addition, anything that could potentially result in a change order needs to be handled by an established protocol. This can help avoid disputes and legal issues later in the job.

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Autodesk Construction Cloud; image: Autodesk Digital Builder

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Following are 4 steps to a better RFI workflow:

  1. Create: The contractor needs to determine the purpose of an RFI. Is the information just a quick information query? Or does it require a formal response according to established procedures? When the general contractor (GC) or trade subcontractor needs information in order to move forward on the job, the RFI needs to be developed to include the affected team members. It also needs to be documented in case there are questions later in the project. Any questions that could potentially result in changes to the project need to be formalized.
  1. Share and Investigate: After the RFI is formalized, it needs to be shared with everyone whose input is needed for the response. Even routine questions about design can involve several teams. Therefore, it’s helpful to have a software tool that logs the RFI and tracks the 5-Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. A software solution is helpful for sharing with other teams and tracking where the response is in the workflow. Waiting for answers can delay a project and cost everyone money. Being able to track where an answer is delayed helps get a quicker update on the RFI response.
Construction RFIs; image: Autodesk Digital Builder
  1. Answer: Once an RFI is answered, it’s important to take time to incorporate every team’s input into a cohesive and easily understood response. You may benefit from using a template for responses. This helps ensure all relevant information is included to adequately answer the RFI. Each manager and project stakeholder should have permission to review the final answer and agree with it so the RFI can be closed out without generating additional questions.
  1. Refine: Your RFI process and the way it leads to change orders should be reviewed and evaluated to be sure it’s as streamlined as possible. Refining RFI workflows is key to handling change orders properly. Although not every RFI will result in a change order, most affect the project in some way. Some engineering requests, for instance, may result in changes to project drawings. An effective RFI process keeps things like this from delaying the project. A poorly written RFI can result in an inadequate change order that can cause bigger problems down the road. It’s best to prevent small issues from mushrooming into big problems. One way to do that is by using a construction technology solution to streamline and simplify your RFI workflow.

By answering each RFI and doing it in a structured way, you can help keep your projects on track. In addition, using tools in Autodesk Construction Cloud will allow you to enhance the preconstruction phase of your project.


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