In construction, an RFI (also known as Request for Information notices) is a formalized process for gathering information regarding a particular project. They are one of the more common and unavoidable administrative duties that project stakeholders will oversee. If done incorrectly, it could lead to potential legal issues, delayed project timelines, substandard deliverables, conflict, or loss of contract. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of RFI’s and even show you how to make one.
So what does an RFI do?
RFI’s are used in multiple industries and provide stakeholders with clarification on some aspects of a project. While they might seem straightforward, RFI’s are more complicated as they go beyond simply asking a question and seeking an answer in return. These are formal notices that require a lot of detail as they address any informational gaps in documents.
Specific to construction, these are legal notices that are issued to groups such as architects, designers, contractors, sub-contractors, and the client. These are typically issued early on in the project, usually during the design or procurement stage. By issuing these notices, stakeholders can address inconsistencies and seek clarification on anything that may not be clear. RFI’s are returned with detailed answers to ensure that project deliverables can be completed correctly and on time.
Another feature of RFI’s is that they are an official record of communication. This documentation is crucial to both parties in case there are disputes that arise in the future. This record can support legal claims of negligence or fraud.
When should RFI ‘s get submitted?
As mentioned, RFI’s are typically issued at the start of a project during the procurement stage, and less commonly towards the end of a project. All sorts of questions can be asked in an RFI, but you will most often see them issued for clarification on contracts, standards, specifications, materials, standards, designs, and drawings. RFI’s are issued based on the unique circumstances of each project, so they can be inquiries about almost anything.
How do I prepare one?
The key to preparing optimal RFI’s is consistency and clarity. The average turnaround time for an RFI is between 9 to 10 days. This is a time-consuming process, so it’s highly important that you make it as easy as possible for the relevant stakeholder to respond quickly. The following is a list of things that you should include in your RFI’s to standardize the process.
- Project name
- RFI number and title
- RFI submission date
- Company and contact information for both parties
- A description of the request, including the question and contextual information (such as project plans or specifications). Be extremely clear to minimize how much interpreting the relevant stakeholder will have to do. As well, limiting each RFI to one question will help simplify the process.
- Potential solutions to your problem. This will help the relevant stakeholder expedite the RFI as they will only have to validate the solution instead of inventing one.
- Be specific with what you’re looking for. Include a list of things you’re looking for in a response to help guide the process.
Our tips for better, more effective RFI ‘s
This common administrative task is a necessary component when working on construction projects. To help you get the most out of your RFI’s while minimizing costs, we’ve also included a list of tips for you.
- Standardize the process. You shouldn’t have to start from scratch every time you create an RFI. To avoid this, we recommend creating a template that suits the specific needs of your project. Not only will this save you an immense amount of time, but a clear RFI process will ensure that all parties will have a pain-free experience.
- Understand your timelines. Plan ahead and review all relevant construction documents as soon as you’re able to. By doing so you’ll be able to submit an RFI early on in the process, minimizing the need to do a last-minute submission (which could cause delays).
- Help the other party understand your question. By including any relevant contextual information in the RFI, you’ll be able to minimize any potential back-and-forth inquiries to improve clarity. This will help the other party evaluate the RFI while saving both parties time.
RFIs at ContractComplete
So you’ve made it this far and you’re looking to find the ideal solution to submitting and reviewing RFI’s. Contract Complete is a comprehensive construction project management tool that streamlines the oftentimes frustrating administrative side of the job. One of the amazing things that you can do with Contract Complete is easily generate, track, and respond to RFI’s. This tool will help you stay organized and save your valuable time for other more important components of your job. Further, ContractComplete allows you to store the document digitally, thus reducing the need to store a physical copy. Above all, our process reduces inefficiencies and ensures that all parties have a clear understanding at all stages of a project.
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Having a consistent and reliable procedure in place allows for simplicity should the need for a change notice arise. We recommend outlining this process from the beginning with project owners. Most importantly, being upfront ensures that everyone is on the same page when changes happen. Being proactive requires deviation from industry norms, which at ContractComplete, we are eager and prepared to provide.