Upgrade RFI Process – 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.
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.
8 ways to upgrade RFI process
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.
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.
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.
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.
Be careful (and flexible) with your due dates – Adhering to due dates is pivotal—but a lot can happen to cause a delay. For example, certain RFIs might require more information, labor may be scarce during winter months, or you may need to get more permits or approvals. Whatever the case, expectations around deadlines must be clear. Even so, this is where flexibility comes into play. Adapt to early projections as appropriate to ensure the established due dates are realistic and confirmed.
Review responses to make sure they are transparent – For a successful outcome, all stakeholders must understand their intended responsibilities, what materials are needed, and how much time is available. If there are any concerns, get clarification. Reviewing responses helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and prevents delays and rework. When costs are involved, ensure calculations are shown and specific. Even if no substantive changes to pricing are expected, each RFI response must contain its own unique cost estimations. This way, if one component of the project runs over budget, it won’t affect other aspects of the project. Effective communication can prevent serious budget problems down the line.
Constantly update the RFI process – Organizations evolve, new tools become available, employees come and go… your RFI process should be as flexible as your business and its goals. To stay ahead of the curve, regularly review the way you run RFIs: once a month, or quarterly—whatever works for you. As part of your review, listen to suggestions from the entire team. Consider sending out a survey to other managers (and departments) to see what they think of your system. The more information you collect, the more useful any changes you make will be.
The more organized you are, the better – Remember, the RFI is an opportunity to ensure a detailed and organized approach to the project. This includes establishing which team members need to complete each task, how long each phase of the project will take, and who is responsible if deadlines are not met.
The construction industry is moving towards full digitalization. To ensure you keep pace with the competition, you need to be able to communicate quickly and effectively. Assessing your RFI process is essential, including whether it’s time to move them to the cloud (short answer: yes!) and which processes can be automated.
When your software does the heavy lifting, you have more time to dedicate to new projects that will build your reputation and help your company grow.
How eSUB Can Help
eSUB is a cloud-based project management platform built especially for subcontractors. It seamlessly integrates with leading construction software systems so you can easily switch from your current RFI process to a cloud-based system to upgrade RFI process.
eSUB organizes all of your project information in one place, allows for smooth collaboration, and streamlines communication through its intuitive interface. It also works on your mobile, so you can track projects on the go—no matter where or when—and stay up-to-date.