A Request for Information or Technical Query may be raised by anyone on a project including:
- The Client or Project Owner,
- Members of the Design Team,
- The Project Manager or Main Contractor,
- Any Subcontractor.
The content of RFI's or TQ's may cover virtually anything, and need not be restricted to just the raising of questions. They can also be used for other purposes, where the response may depend on the answers received from other people, such as:
- Proposing a Change,
- Notification of Events possibly leading to a contract claim.
The contents of the RFI should identify:
- Details of the contract or project
- The originator,
- The originators, preferably unique, reference,
- Date the query was raised,
- The question to which an answer is requested,
- Identification, and inclusion of an attachment such as an explanatory sketch or photograph.
It is common practice for any response to include relevant answers received from parties to whom the RFI has been forwarded to contribute to the response.
The organisation raising the RFI/TQ must send it either to an organisation with whom they are in contract, or to the organisation nominated to manage the project. It is incorrect [and probably contractually deficient] for example for a subcontractor to a main contractor to approach a member of the design team directly without the knowledge and or consent of the main contractor.
The process is as follows, and is generally managed by the Main Contractor's or Project Manager's document controller, and consists of a number of straight forward steps as follows:
- Receive and record the RFI/TQ, and determine its distribution,
- Make the distribution e.g. to the Work Package manager and other parties for an answer,
- Receive and record the answers made by Work Package manager and other parties,
- Ensure co-ordination of the response, and issue it to the originator.
When using a paper based system, it is common practice to use a form which is then copied and distributed for answer. The formal response is made on the form, and if required, any relevant answers received are copied and attached.
TDOC follows this generic industry standard methodology, and operates as follows:
- An RFI or TQ may be received or raised
- The RFI or TQ is distributed for answer on a form, and this may be:
- As a form printed on paper, which may completed and returned, with a copy kept by the person making the answer.
- Emailed including the form presented as an electronic document. In TDOC, distribution by email includes:
- The document in an electronic format such as PDF, which may be printed out and thus serves as a formal document.
- An EDI file allowing the information to be imported into a software system. Note that no standard for the interchange of such information exists.
- An HTML form which allows the recipient to record his answer "on line". This requires a PHP server to process the HTML form and to generate an email (with EDI file) to the distributor of the RFI, with a copy back to the person making the answer.
- The answers are collated, together with any attachments.
- When the RFI or TQ was received (rather than raised), the response is coordinated from the answers received, and despatched to the originator. This may be:
- As a form printed on paper,
- Emailed including the form presented as an electronic document with attachments and an EDI file.
People answering an RFI or TQ have a number of options when it is distributed out by email, including:
- Printing out the form, and completing it, and returning it on paper, keeping a copy for themselves.
- As above, but scanning in the completed document, and emailing it.
- Preferably, by using the HTML form, which enables them to receive a copy email.
- Using the EDI file to import into their own software system [e.g. TDOC], and using that to make their answer.
- Marking up the RFI or TQ and returning it by email. This is NOT recommended.