This is part 2 of 10 helpful tips for developing your RFI process to manage and handle RFIs from the Field Crew to your Office Staff.
Construction projects average hundreds of request for information (RFIs) each year, making it essential that project stakeholders maintain an efficient RFI process in the field. Additionally, it is essential that project stakeholders incorporate best practices to ensure contractors write well-written RFIs and hold them to the same RFI process standards. When you are working on projects with various different professionals, it is important that managers and contractors work together in order to mitigate negative impacts and risks.
6) Set specific due dates
When you send out RFIs, make sure that individuals know when you need a response by. Make it clear on the RFI that in order to mitigate any schedule delay that you request a response to the RFI by a specific date. This holds the recipient accountable to the due date or the project schedule will suffer consequences. If you send out an RFI, but don’t specify a due date, it is likely that they will put it off until later and forget to respond. As stated previously, an extra bonus of construction management software includes the ability to create reminders or set up alerts.
7) When you receive a response, review it for completeness and clarity
When an RFI is returned back to your team, look it over to ensure that it is complete and clear. There should not be any questions in the response that you receive back. The respondents should answer the question or issue fully and deliver a concise solution or recommendation. If you don’t receive a complete response, send the RFI back and request a fully answered response.
A wise Project Manager once stated, “Don’t tell me about a problem unless you have a solution.” So, another helpful hint when drafting an RFI is to provide a recommended solution. Subcontractors and trade partners serve as the boots on the ground and expert in constructability. General contractors and designers rely on the expertise of their subcontractors. Show that expertise and minimize the back and forth and confusion by providing a recommended solution. Therefore, the only response that comes back only needs to be “Yes” or “No.”
8) Stay organized
Once you receive an answer to your RFI, be sure to record the response and store it securely somewhere. How often to does one lose or misplace paper RFIs? It does happen, so stay organized! The RFI process should always include a way to keep track of RFIs. Many construction companies utilize a trusty spreadsheet as their log. This log should include the name of the RFI, the RFI send date, and the RFI answered date. Unfortunately, sometimes someone forgets to update the log, or everyone has a different version of the log saved on their hard drive.
The beauty of construction software is the ability to centralize the log and ensure consistency of information captured. The RFI module in many construction software solutions automatically tracks all activities related to the RFI. It is centrally located in the cloud so everyone on the team knows the real-time status.
9) Continually update the RFIs status
Make sure to update the RFIs status. You want to make sure that all the appropriate team members are aware of any progress. Even though no progress is being made, you will still want to take note of any communications. If you are calling or emailing the General Contractor for an update and they are non-responsive, document that! This will be critical information in the event that there are any claims or disputes on schedules and progress. Your team can attribute any delays back to a lack of responsiveness, so documentation is critical.
Of course, once the RFIs response is complete, mark it as closed out so that everyone is aware! The last thing you want to do is to have others keep hounding for an answer when someone has already received one.
10) Keep everyone involved
Communication is an essential part in the RFI process, as well as, effectively managing construction projects, especially when it comes to RFIs. Your team on the field is waiting for direction so it’s important to keep them updated on RFI status. If you are using a construction software, add everyone involved so that they can view the RFI process. If you aren’t using a software, create a group email to keep everyone in constant communication. This ensures that everyone stays on the same page. When team members have visibility, it helps minimize the finger pointing and blame. Keeping everyone involved helps maintain a collaborative nature that is critical to effective project execution.
If you and your team would like to learn how the eSUB platform can help your team stream line your RFI process please reach out to us and we can set up a meeting to discuss a few strategies with you!