Reducing RFIs through Process and Technology:
An Architect’s Way Forward
Technology and processes allow architects to increase their profit margins, but many architects are slow to adapt. With a design-based business such as architecture, simplifying processes and streamlining communication is critical to increasing profitability and improving project delivery. Considering the technology that is available today, architects have a responsibility to utilize it, resulting in them providing data-rich models to stakeholders. Through architects’ embrace of technological innovation, the project lifecycle gets optimized, therefore increasing profit and making architects more valuable in the process.
The longstanding process in place for architects begins with sending a completed plan or drawing to the contractor. But, sometimes general contractors cannot execute the exact design, forcing them to go back to the architect with Requests for Information (RFI), with which the architect analyzes the issues and makes the necessary edits or clarifications. Besides being tedious, RFIs force delays in the project.
Today, BIM provides unlimited opportunities to make projects flexible, reducing RFIs. We cannot eliminate RFIs overall, but we can ensure we take the precautionary measures as a collective to reduce the number of them. Today’s models are fluid and able to shift with new demands and constraints, and BIM also opens the door to VR, allowing project members to walk through the model and make changes collaboratively. With BIM, architects can easily edit new constraints within models, simplifying communication between all stakeholders in the project.
Why hasn’t there been a quicker shift to accept new technology for building data-rich models? Architects tend to be design-oriented, and perhaps don’t heavily consider the full building lifecycle, overlooking that there is a physical structure being constructed. For these architects, creating a model that can adapt over time is not a paramount concern. However, by embracing the benefits of long-sightedness in the early stages of a project and capitalizing on recent technology, architects can improve their profitability and improve overall project delivery.
Architects must recognize the importance of added value in their relationships with owners. By providing a true data-rich model that provides long-term value to all stakeholders involved in the project, owners will want to pay architects more. In using BIM, architects will also be able to reduce human error by building a model with data embedded that is able to adapt to necessary changes. By realizing the value of design technology and how it can be used throughout the lifecycle of the building, architects are able to increase their bottom line, all while reducing human error and downtime, thereby setting up the project for success. We know we can’t eliminate RFIs, but we can embrace the changes in technology that allow us to provide data-rich, collaborative models that have a positive impact on the project life cycle.