The Ultimate Guide to Upgrading Your RFI Process—Part 1

The construction industry has been undergoing a seismic change—making it essential that you stay on top of your game. Companies are now competing with others from all over the world, not just in their own city. As a result, construction businesses must stay abreast of the competition and adopt new strategies that suit the industry’s rapid change.

One major shift that construction companies have seen is in how they manage their RFIs. With so many different people working on projects, it can be difficult to ensure everyone has access to the same information. The RFI process can be time-consuming and full of mistakes. If you’re still using spreadsheets, there’s a 9 out of 10 chance yours contains an error. And that could be costly.

Let’s take a closer look at how to upgrade your RFI process and make things more efficient for everyone on your team. This is a two-part series, so be sure to check out part 2 so you get the full picture.

What is an RFI?

A Request for Information (RFI) is a step in the pre-construction process that lets you know what you’re going to have to deal with on a project before it starts. There are many different types of RFIs. They all serve the purpose of creating a well-informed construction team equipped with all the resources they require to complete their projects successfully.

When should you create an RFI?

The best time to start creating your RFI is before the bidding process even begins. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect to avoid surprises further down your project timeline. If part of the project changes along the way and ends up costing more money or taking longer than expected, you can make sure everyone is aware of where things stand before moving forward.

Without an RFI before starting the project, you might miss out on important information regarding costs and schedules, and more. In some cases, the process will take longer than expected, which can lead to construction deadlines slipping by.

Five upgrades to your RFI process

Here are five actionable ways to improve your RFI process.

  1. Discuss the details — early. One of the first things to discuss with your project team is the client’s needs. It’s just as important that the person conducting door inspections knows about each client’s unique design as it is for the equipment operators to know what kind of materials need to be utilized, and when, throughout the day. These early discussions mean no one is left guessing, which can prevent mistakes that would have you backtracking and wasting valuable time. Upgrading your RFI process means taking a thorough approach to ensure no important details have been excluded from your RFIs. Having everything laid out early minimizes potential issues that may arise later on in the project. This also gives you more time to focus on making progress rather than fixing problems.

  2. Establish a consistent naming system for your RFIs. As you upgrade your RFI process, establish a clear system for naming RFIs. This makes it easier for you and the client to reference previous communications. Whether you’re drafting questions about the client’s needs for parking spaces, or asking what kind of HVAC system will be needed on site, a consistent method for naming queries can ensure your RFIs are organized and specific information can be quickly accessed.

  3. Ask the right questions (and share the answers). Before signing any contracts, make sure all the questions are answered. A big mistake many companies make is not ensuring there is a mutual, and transparent, understanding of every part of the RFI. This makes it harder to identify who was responsible for what and to keep track of client preferences. An early and open discussion about your RFI process ensures that nothing falls through the cracks, saving everyone time and money down the road. A clear understanding of the RFI process from the start, and all parties involved, reduces possible mistakes and streamlines the workflow with less room for error in communication.

  4. Use platform-based software to reduce errors. When you first start working with a new client or team member, using cloud-based construction software can ensure that you avoid any confusion about who has received what information. This makes it easy for everyone to communicate throughout the project, whether they are sitting next to each other or on opposite sides of the world.

Final Thoughts

As the construction industry moves towards digitalization, RFIs need to move into the cloud as well. This makes it easy for you and your team to access them at any time, from anywhere, on any device. It also ensures all participants have access to the most up-to-date RFI information, such as changes or corrections made by other project participants. No more wondering if the RFI was received or being told it wasn’t sent or is missing essential details. Cloud software ensures that your RFIs are accurate every single time.

eSUB is a cloud-based project management platform built especially for contractors. It works across multiple devices and comes with an easy-to-use interface that keeps field, office, and subcontractors all working from the same platform. You can add photos, attachments, links, and all the information you need. Finally, your crew manager can easily fill out the report, and your project will run more efficiently.