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6 min read

How to Set Up and Manage an RFI Tracking Log

Chris Lee
Published Dec 8, 2023

 

Download your free RFI tracking log template. 

A big part of using an RFI (Request for Information) efficiently is understanding the current status of the RFI. This is crucial because many RFIs can be in play at any given time and knowing when to expect a response back can be critical to keeping the work going.

Let’s break down what is essential to include in your log and walk through how to use our downloadable template.

The best way to manage multiple RFIs is by developing and actively maintaining a good RFI tracking log. An RFI tracking log is a list of all of the RFIs that have been generated on a project. For each RFI, it includes a brief description of the issue, when it was submitted, what scope it pertains to on the project, and when a response is expected back from the design team. The log is usually in the form of a spreadsheet.

This information is critical for members on the project management team to know. The project manager, as well as the superintendent, should keep a close eye on the RFI tracking log. They need to know which questions have been answered, which ones have not, and how much pressure to apply to the design team, via the owner or owner’s rep, in order to get the responses to RFIs in a timely manner and avoid delays.

👉🏼 If you haven’t already, check out our guide to writing successful construction RFIs

What to include in your RFI tracking log

Let’s break down some of the key information that should be in the RFI tracking log:

  • RFI number – It might seem simple, but a good numbering system goes a long way towards keeping RFIs organized in a log. Often, many RFIs are generated throughout the course of a construction project, and many RFIs will overlap similar scopes of work. So, the RFI number allows you to differentiate between two similar RFIs.
  • Description – A concise description that can fit onto one row of a spreadsheet allows members of the project management team to quickly scan and differentiate between different RFIs and the issues they are addressing. Making sure this description is detailed and concise allows the project manager or superintendent to quickly see the status on the RFI that they are looking for, rather than getting bogged down trying to decipher which RFI they need.
  • Drawing/Specification Reference – While this information should be included in the RFI document itself, it’s also important to include it on the RFI tracking log. This allows the project management team to quickly isolate which RFIs affect a certain scope of the project.
  • Individual responsible for creating the RFI – When you are managing multiple members of a project management team, knowing who created what documentation is important because there are often questions related to when they drafted that document and what they included. This holds true for RFIs as well. If a project manager or superintendent has a question about what was included in the original RFI document, they can look at the tracking log, identify the individual who generated it, and ask them directly, rather than having to pull up the original document and dig through it.
  • Date submitted – When the RFI was submitted is a vital piece of information to include on a tracking log. The contract will state a timeframe in which the design team is obligated to provide an RFI response, so typically a formula can be created in an adjacent cell for when the response is expected. That way the cell will automatically fill in the date based on the language in the contract, leaving you with one less math equation to do in your head.
  • Due date for response – Related to the “date submitted”, the date when the response is expected is one the the most important pieces of information that someone on the project management team can expect to find by looking at the RFI tracking log. Knowing when you can expect an answer is the key to how you plan the work around the issue in the RFI. Making sure the response timeline, as dictated in the contract, is reflected in the log is an easy way to provide leaders on the project with the right information, fast.
  • Status – Having a color-coded status as a column on the RFI tracking log is important because it allows members of the project management team to look at the log and quickly identify which RFIs have been answered and which ones are still outstanding. Then they can essentially highlight which RFIs on the log represent risk to the project and need further action to get them moving along.

Creating a good RFI tracking log is important in its own right. Just as important, if not more so, is maintaining the log and making sure that the information on it is accurate and up-to-date. The value of the log is completely lost if a project manager or superintendent can’t trust the information in it. Make sure your team fills in all of the different fields within the log, closes out RFIs and updates the status when a response is received. This way the project management team can have confidence in knowing that they do not have to focus their efforts on the wrong RFIs.

At the end of the day, the RFI tracking log is a great tool that can help to drive efficiency and mitigate the risk presented by RFIs, but only if it is being used and maintained effectively. Usually, one member of the project management team is assigned to be responsible for uploading information into the RFI tracking log and maintaining it as the RFI manager. While the number of people on the team can vary from project to project, having one person be the master of the log and making sure it is accurate and up-to-date ensures that it functions as intended.

How to Use This Template

Creating an RFI tracking log can be simple; all you really need access to is a spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. We’ve included a template to help get the process started, and the steps to getting your RFI tracking log up and running are as follows:

1. Customize the log columns and information to the format that fits your project. – You may need more or less information in your RFI log, depending on the nature of the project and the requirements set forth by the owner. Ultimately, less is more, as the less information you have to visually sort through will allow you to glean what you need faster.

2. Assign one individual to be responsible for adding information to the log. – By assigning a project team member to manage the RFI log, it eliminates confusion between different team members as to who is supposed to perform what functions when it comes to tracking the information. It also allows for accountability if the log is not being maintained or the information is not being uploaded correctly into it.

3. Make sure the entire team funnels RFIs to the RFI manager when they are generated. – In addition to maintaining the log, the RFI manager should receive the RFI documents from across the team, log the necessary information into the log, and then file the original documentation, as well as the corresponding response documentation, in a centralized folder system that is organized and accessible. This ensures any member across the team can access the information when they need to.

4. Communicate across the entire team how the log and system should work. – While it is important to have one person manage the log as the RFI manager, making sure the rest of the team knows how the RFI manage process, to include how the log is set up and why the information in the log is important, will help to ensure that there is less redundant work and communication on the part of the RFI manager. Getting everyone on the same page with the workflow will reduce mistakes and information gaps, making the tool that much easier to maintain.

How to Maintain Your Log

Here’s a quick recap to ensure you are taking the right steps to keep your RFI tracking log maintained the right way:

1. Structured Log Format – Use a standardized template for the RFI log that includes key fields like the RFI number, date issued, date responded, description of the RFI, originator, responsible party, and status. Make sure that all project team members know what information is required to go in the log.

2. Regular Updates – Update the log promptly with new RFIs and any changes in their status. The RFI manager responsible for the log should be checking for updates on a daily basis and updating accordingly.

3. Track Response Times – Record the date each RFI was issued and the date a response was received. Monitor the response times to identify any delays and address them promptly.

4. Status Categorization – Categorize the status of each RFI (i.e., open, in progress, closed). Updating the status on a daily basis is important for the tracking log to function accordingly and should be handled by the RFI manager. This categorization helps in prioritizing RFIs and managing the workflow and, again, provides that easy visual for anyone to look at the log and know where each RFI is on its journey.

5. Integration with Project Management Tools – Integrate the RFI log with other project management tools and software for streamlined communication and documentation. Ensure there is compatibility between the existing project management systems and your RFI tracking log.

6. Review and Analysis – Regularly review the log to identify patterns, like frequent delays or common issues, and address underlying causes. Use the log data for continuous improvement in project management processes. A well-maintained RFI tracking log can give you a lot of really useful information and insight into how the document control system and communication, in general, is working on your project.

Your RFI Log Should be a Single Source of Truth

An RFI tracking log can be a massively helpful tool, consolidating the information of multiple RFIs into one single source of truth. Making sure it is set up correctly, having one person be responsible for managing it and the RFI process, and keeping the information in it current and accurate will help mitigate risk on your projects that RFIs pose.

Further Reading:


Author
Chris Lee

Chris combines his experience in tech and construction to build products that actually help SMB contractors improve and streamline their business operations.

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