3 RFI Improvements That Strengthen Construction Project Management In The Field

June 21, 2019 Laurie Spitler

If you have spent any time in construction project management, you have probably heard the term ‘Request for Information’ or more commonly referred to as ‘RFI’ at least once or twice. An RFI is a way the industry has standardized the process of formally asking questions. For example, a General Contractor might have a question about a particular aspect of the drawings. Rather than sending a one off email or verbally asking in passing, the GC team drafts of formal written question and submits this to the design team for a response.  

There are several reasons why we use this standardized process, including the ability to track contractually sanctioned communication, but that doesn’t mean it is always an easy task. In fact, RFI’s can often be tedious and time consuming.

Digitizing the RFI process across a common data platform is the first step to eliminating some of the unnecessary pain. But with the recent feature updates to BIM 360, we are making the RFI workflow even easier!


Ability to Search RFI’s

Although this may seem basic, the ability to search through all of your past RFI’s by keyword adds some pretty powerful functionality. In the past when you search a keyword it will sift through the RFI titles to find a match. With the new features in BIM 360, the search functionality will not only read through RFI titles, but it will also scan through the text within the question field, the text within the suggested answer and answer fields, as well as the RFI ID number.

Lets use a real life example to help demonstrate how you might use this feature. You’re sitting at your desk when the Project Executive walks over and asks you a question about the progress of the installation of flashing on the roof. You remember seeing a few RFI’s related to flashing but can’t remember when. With the search functionality, you can quickly find any RFI that is related to flashing (whether it is in the title or not) and get up to speed on the status.


RFI Search

With the search functionality, you can quickly find any RFI that is related to flashing


RFI Reporting

Previously users could generate a quick RFI report directly from within the RFI tab by clicking the “export” button. Although this is still the case, with the release of the Reporting tab within the Insight module, teams can take RFI reporting a step further.

Within the Insight module, users can set up a more custom RFI report including the ability to schedule future reports. For example, you can set up a recurring report for all “Open” RFI’s that gets distributed at the end of each week to specific people on the team. This new feature helps ensure everyone is kept up to date on the status of RFI’s and gives them visibility into items that need further attention.


RFI Report Scheduling

The RFI reporting feature ensures everyone is kept up to date on the status of RFI’s


Custom Numbering

You asked and we listened, BIM 360 now supports the ability to set custom numbers for all RFI’s. A hugely requested feature, this capability allows teams to enter custom RFI numbers that meet their specific needs. A few use cases for this might be needing to match an RFI numbering system to an existing owner requested system. Or if you are transitioning out of an old platform into BIM 360, you can customize the numbers to carry over from that original system.

In addition, teams can also create a ‘point’ version of an RFI to link it back to the original RFI. For example, you may have initially created an RFI #102 and then later down the line needed to ask a follow up question from the original question. Rather than creating a new RFI that generates whatever number comes next, users can customize the number to be RFI #102.1. This flexibility helps keep all relevant information together and easy to find.

The last great feature of custom numbering is that an RFI won’t be assigned an official number until it is transitioned into an open state. In addition, if an RFI was canceled or voided, you can remove the number so that the numbering picks back up to any active RFI’s. These features allow for a cleaner number system overall and helps eliminate the noise of numbers. Now teams can easily see a consistent pattern and minimizes the numbering gaps that often occur, making it hard to track and find the right information when you need it.


Custom Numbering

With the custom numbering feature, teams can easily see a consistent pattern and minimize numbering gaps that often occur


Summary: Why these new RFI features are so helpful for construction project management

1. RFI search helps teams find the right information at the right time.

2. Reporting allows teams to easily track and monitor progress and ensure everyone on the  team is getting continual updates

3. Custom numbering gives users the flexibility and control they need to manage RFI’s and improves continuity so that information can be surfaced quickly.

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