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Optimizing Your RFI Process and Workflows

An RFI is one of those necessities GCs will have to encounter during the span of any construction project – and it’s a task that’s generally tedious, time-consuming and extremely expensive. According to Navigant Construction, the average number of RFIs submitted on a $1 million construction project is around 10, usually costing more than $800,000. 

RFIs are extremely important to a project, as they are used to clarify drawings, specs, standards, and contracts. These documents aid in the collection of written information to help partners better understand the capabilities of others on a project.

Managing the RFI logs becomes critically important as the risk of not having the right answers or not documenting that the right questions were asked could be very costly. Many contractors will use manual tracking processes which can be the source of many communication breakdowns, how could this process be more automated? This is possible with the help of construction software, specifically RedTeam’s cloud-based solution. By leveraging cloud-based project management software, you can set up robust workflows to accurately track the management of these critical documents.

Reducing the Amount of RFIs Upfront

When specific design elements are not clearly laid out in the contract, project teams send out RFIs looking for answers. On average, RFIs go unanswered 22% of the time, leading to delays in project delivery.

One solution is to use the “Design-Assist” strategy as a way to include subcontractors in the design and preconstruction phase. Cogence Alliance defines design-assist as:

“A term used to describe the strategy of engaging key construction subcontractors early in the design and preconstruction phase, to assist the design team and the construction team with value engineering, constructability analysis, and other preconstruction services. As examples, this may include a construction manager hiring separate A/Es or simply bringing in trade subcontractors early before bids, to assist in preconstruction during the design process.”

By including key project stakeholders from the start, it ensures that critical details are included in the design phase, allowing subcontractors to provide faster project delivery, better design coordination, and better pricing. While this process does add more time and money to the design phase, it would lead to fewer RFIs down the line.

Improving RFI Practices

Because of the time-consuming nature of RFIs, it’s important to find ways to expedite the process and create a cheaper and more efficient experience for project teams.

Below are actionable steps GCs can take to improve this process:

  1. Focus on One Problem – When submitting an RFI, it is important to understand what you want the receiver to take from that document. To do this, GCs should clearly state the problem they are addressing. By avoiding industry jargon and shorthand, you can clearly define the problem leading to a simple and straightforward response.

2. Create a Process – There are many ways to submit an RFI, so it is important to make sure that everyone is using the same form or template. Through the development of a standardized RFI process, project teams can better track and understand each document submitted and keep everyone on the same page.

3. Understand the Importance of Timing – Timing is everything during a construction project. The earlier documents are submitted, the more time individuals have to respond efficiently.

 

The Benefits of Using RedTeam For Your RFIs

Clear communication is the key to success on any project – RedTeam allows GCs and subcontractors to create open communication channels, which reduces the cost and time associated with RFIs.

RedTeam’s cloud-based software allows everyone working on a project to better track the progress of RFIs to help keep response times down drastically.

Additionally, RedTeam’s collaborative console allows project teams to collaborate and ensure that critical documents are not misplaced – reducing the need for a high quantity of RFIs.

GCs should work with construction technology companies that aim to improve current practices rather than reinventing them altogether. Better yet, they should find a tech partner who has worked in the construction industry and has lived through the daily struggles first-hand. By using RedTeam’s collaborative platform, GCs and subcontractors can reduce the everyday time, stress, and cost challenges associated with the RFI process.

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