Submittals and RFI’s – A better way?

collaboration meeting

As we continue to field-test lean and ‘IPD-Lite’ methods on our HHD project at Penn State, a key area of focus is our Project Information Management (PIM) processes.

During design-phase collaboration sessions the project team identified the Submittal process and Request for Information (RFI) process for enhancement.

The submittal review process runs more efficiently when high quality (complete, complying, coordinated) documents are obtained in the initial review; especially for complex, high-value scopes of work (e.g. structural steel shop drawings). We responded to this challenge by requiring ‘Pre-Submittal Meetings’ for those scopes of greatest concern. In the case of the steel shops, the team held a face-to-face meeting primarily to allow the structural engineer and the detailer to meet each other, discuss the design intent, share concerns and expectations, and answer questions. That meeting was followed by a series of information exchanges and online meetings leading up to the review. As a result, many questions were answered and scope issues clarified in advance. The final shop drawings were promptly approved.

To improve the RFI process, our team is utilizing Autodesk BIM 360 Field to capture and share ‘Issues’ as they are being generated. Contractors tend to produce RFI’s and the clock starts for response. However, taking advantage of our colocation field office, we are requiring personal contacts to review and close issues whenever possible prior to elevating to formal RFI’s. It is our belief that the more direct the interaction, the more quickly the issue is likely to be resolved. Through this approach, the team communicates better, ‘easy’ RFI’s are reduced, and greater attention can be directed to answering the tougher questions.

Early results from these PIM process improvements are encouraging and the team is reporting high levels of satisfaction with the information flow so far on the job.

For more information on these initiatives, check out our previous blog.

Article by Dave Parker AIA, NCARB, Project Manager

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