Ten Tips on Managing RFIs for Your Construction Projects

RFI ManagementIn a previous blog post – The Whys and Wherefores of RFIs – we reviewed Navigant Consulting’s report on the potentially serious impact of Requests for Information (RFIs) on construction projects.

Today we’d like to offer the Aconex perspective – specifically, actionable tips for owners, contractors and project managers on managing the RFI process for their construction projects. This is especially critical for reducing risk on projects involving professionals from a number of different organizations.

Best Practices for RFIs

In an ideal world, RFIs would be managed consistently right across your project, according to the following guidelines:

  1. Use a pro forma RFI template for all subcontractors and consultants to raise issues, and limit their input to one issue per RFI.
  2. Make it clear to all team members that responses to RFIs are to be delivered within the time period specified in the contract.
  3. Instruct the team to attach to their RFIs any information – specifications, manuals, sketches, drawings, models, photos, videos, etc. – that helps clarify the issue being raised.
  4. Have the RFIs recorded in a project-wide register with a unique number, the date of creation and the date by which a response is required.
  5. Send the RFIs to the responsible team member(s), as specified in the contract, and ensure that receipt of each RFI is logged in the project-wide register.
  6. The initial recipient may need to send an RFI to another team member or organization better able to address the issue – if so, the subsequent receipt of the RFI should be logged in the register and that recipient should respond.
  7. The original recipient should review the response, ensure that it addresses the issue and determine any impact on the project schedule and budget – which should be logged as a potential variation and reviewed by the appropriate members of the project team.
  8. When the response is returned to you, review it for accuracy, completeness and relevance – and confirm or clarify any impact on the project schedule and budget.
  9. In the project-wide register, update the RFI status accordingly so that the appropriate team members are aware of it.
  10. If the RFI response meets your requirements, mark it as ‘closed out’ – if not, tag it as an outstanding issue for resolution, as well as historical reporting purposes.

Looks like a long list, right? Here’s a flow chart to help you visualize the Request for Information process:

RFI Flow Chart

Automating Best Practices for RFIs

We know what you’re thinking: “Wow, that’s a lot of work! How do I automate and control the RFI process for the entire project team?”

The answer is Aconex – the world’s most widely used Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform built specifically to manage information and processes between different organizations on construction projects. Aconex gives you total control of the RFI process by automatically tracking all requests and responses at every stage of the project – and recording them in a permanent audit trail.

Controlling the RFI Process

Requests for Information are logged in a project-wide register and processed as Aconex mail, and you can prioritize them according to your own criteria. You can automatically route RFIs for approval before sending them, or save them in draft form for others to update and send later. The Aconex platform clearly flags outstanding and overdue responses. This enables you and your project team to efficiently manage time-critical correspondence and keeps you up to date on issues requiring attention – before they impact the project schedule and budget.

On demand, Aconex can generate comprehensive reports on the status of RFIs and their responses. Open, automated reporting of RFI issues and status for all organizations on the project provides a single, transparent source of information. This improves accountability and reduces the likelihood of disputes during the project, and the permanent audit trail helps resolve disputes that may arise.

Requests for Information – Seeing is Believing

Creating and responding to RFIs in Aconex is a straightforward process which maps directly to the best practices listed above. Contact us for a demo today, and ensure that you effectively manage risk on your next multi-company construction project.

Tod Bottari
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Tod Bottari

Communications Director at Aconex
Tod Bottari is the Communications Director for Aconex, the world's leading collaborative construction management software.
Tod Bottari
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