Sometimes, the thing holding up your latest construction project isn’t the weather, or the lack of crew, or the need for more materials such as concrete formwork ties. Instead, it’s information. Sending out a request for information (RFI) is necessary when you find your crew doesn’t have the intel they need to keep working on a task.
This lack of information isn’t always due to someone’s mismanagement or lack of cooperation. A construction project, especially one very large in scope, involves many different parts. It’s inevitable that something won’t be addressed or fully explained in the planning stages.
When that occurs, you need to submit an RFI to the right party and hope that they respond quickly. Here are a few strategies to create better RFIs that get you the information you need as soon as possible.
1. Submit RFIs as Soon as You Can
The more time someone has to answer your RFI, the better. By submitting your request as soon as you realize you need information, you (hopefully) won’t be sitting around waiting on a response.
Your crew will still have some work they can do until they absolutely need the information, and the person answering your RFI won’t feel rushed. While your ideal construction timeline will include a buffer just in case you do face delays, it’s better not to need that extra time.
2. Use an RFI Tracking Program
Some RFIs are written up as a document and emailed around. This works, but it’s not as efficient as it would be if you used a platform designed specifically for RFIs.
These platforms allow you to create standardized forms, submit them to the correct people, and track them throughout the entire process. With emails, there’s a chance your RFI will be missed or will even get caught by an aggressive spam filter.
3. Be Clear With What You Need
When writing out the problem, be as clear as you possibly can. Clearly identify the task you’re working on, the information you’re missing, and what you need from the other party.
Read over your RFI after writing it to make certain it clearly explains everything. Keep the technical terms to a minimum whenever possible, and while you should include relevant details, don’t include anything that’s not connected to the problem.
4. Create a Standard Process for RFIs
When you don’t have a standard approach for RFIs to be written or communicated, you end up with some people sending emails, others using an instant messenger program, and some even picking up the phone and calling.
Having a standard way of sending and tracking RFIs helps ensure that nothing is missed and that there’s a central location for all of the information to be saved and shared. Having a template for writing your RFIs, as mentioned in the previous section, also helps make sure everyone is including all of the necessary details in both the request and in the answer.
5. Create an Escalation Process
What happens if an RFI goes unanswered for several weeks? What if one subcontractor simply can’t get the architect or other party to answer them? Having a path for escalation will help ensure that your project doesn’t get hung up due to these issues.
Outline when an RFI needs to be escalated, who should be contacted, and what consequences should be involved when someone doesn’t quickly answer RFIs. Make certain this process is clearly communicated and shared with everyone involved.
Likewise, have a process for critical RFIs that need to be answered as soon as possible. This fast-track system needs to have clearly defined rules regarding when it can be used.
Otherwise, someone may begin flagging all of their RFIs as critical. Not having a fast-track process, though, can leave you waiting on crucial information for days, delaying work and putting the project behind schedule.
Don’t Be Held Up Due to a Lack of Shoring Equipment
While we may not be able to provide answers to all of your RFIs challenges, we can make certain that you have all of the shoring and concrete forming equipment you need. Contact Forming America today to discuss how we can help you.