March 7, 2017

Posted on March 7, 2017 by Synergis’ Application Consultant, Bill Knittle
Last month, Autodesk announced their latest update to BIM 360 Docs. Yes, now we can use an integrated Request for Information (RFI) management feature. The new feature is quite simple to use, follow, and implement.

If you’re new to BIM 360 Docs, it is was introduced at Autodesk University 2015 as part of the BIM 360 Enterprise which includes Glue, Field, and Plan. BIM 360 Docs is a Document Management solution for the AEC team that centralizes all project documentation in the cloud. Members are invited to the project via a Project Administrator. Those Members are assigned to a Company and given a Role within the project. The Company is the important piece to the RFI workflow in its current iteration.

Before I can dive any deeper, there is some initial setup required to utilize the RFI management feature effectively. The solution relies on assigning Companies to the RFI workflow. Companies are created from the BIM 360 Enterprise portal which is accessible from the Settings button (Gear icon) in the upper-right corner of the BIM 360 Docs user-interface. Once inside the Enterprise portal, Companies can be created.

Then, Members are added to the Enterprise portal. If Members are added within BIM 360 Docs, they will created in the Enterprise too. At which point, their profile can be further modified within the Enterprise portal. Each Member is assigned to a Company. In my case, I created Members assigned to Companies that either pertain to the role of an Architect, Contractor, Subcontractor, and Engineer.

Now, back in BIM 360 Docs, Members are invited to join the active project. After Members have been invited to the project, the Project Administrator then adds the Members to the folders by Role, Company or Member. Then, the Project Administrator sets their access permissions. Permissions give Members the ability to View, Upload, Edit, or Control the documentation in the folder.

With the membership and permissions established, the Project Administrator can now set up the RFI workflow for the project. After accessing the Project Administration page via the Settings button in the upper-right corner of the BIM 360 Docs user interface, the Project Administrator can select the RFI tab on the left to change the workflow. There are two workflow options to select from.

In this example, the workflow that will be utilized is the default RFI Workflow. This  workflow is dependent on the transactions between the Subcontractor, General Contractor, and Architect. With the workflow now selected, the Project Administrator assigns Companies to the Roles of the Subcontractor, General Contractor, and Architect. The available Companies stem from the active project membership.

To illustrate the workflow, let’s assume that our Mechanical Subcontractor has noticed a problem in a document uploaded by the Engineer. While reviewing the document, the Subcontractor realized a lack of information regarding the Hot Water Supply and Return connections to an Air Handling Unit. The Subcontractor wants clarification on what is indicated in the document. On the left, our Subcontractor will select the new RFI tab and add an RFI. Then, the Subcontractor places a pushpin on the document at the location of interest. With the pushpin placed, the Subcontractor can now fill out the RFI information.

Finally, the Subcontractor can select the Done button to complete the addition of the RFI to the project. The current Status of the RFI is set to Draft as it is filled out. Once completed, the Subcontractor can submit the RFI by changing the Status to Submitted.

This changes the pushpin from a blue color to a purple color. Simultaneously, a notification email is sent to inform the General Contractor of the RFI.

In the integrated workflow, the General Contractor now assumes responsibility for reviewing the RFI. He can either view the RFI in the web-browser or on the BIM 360 Docs iPad app.

In the web-browser, the General Contractor can select the RFI tab on the left to see the RFI log. Each RFI is numbered in sequence and provides a plethora of information.

The General Contractor can utilize the built in Filter to reduce the list based on specific parameters.

As of now, there is not a way to click on the RFI in the log to launch the document it resides on nor, is there a log on the BIM 360 Docs iPad app. However, the General Contractor can open the document, expand the RFI pane, and select the RFI. This will open the RFI and allow the General Contractor to review the information and any Comments or Attachments. Once the General Contractor reviews and comments on the RFI, the Status can be changed to Closed or Open. In this case, the General Contractor changes the Status to Open.

This changes the pushpin from a purple color to a yellow color. Simultaneously, a notification email is sent to the Architect.

The Architect now assumes responsibility for the RFI. Like the General Contractor, the Architect can now view the RFI in the log within the web-browser or open the document to see the RFI information. It is up to the Architect to collaborate with the consulting Engineer for a response. In this case, the Engineer can review the RFI in BIM 360 Docs but, cannot respond to it. The Company the Engineer works for must be assigned to the role “Architect” in the workflow in order to take part in the process. For now, the Architect will need to respond for the Engineer. However, the Architect can tag the Engineer by mention. In the Comment, the Architect enters their comment and then the symbol @. BIM 360 Docs displays a list of active Members in the project. Once the Engineer is selected and the Comment is posted, a notification email is sent to the Engineer.

In our scenario, the Engineer has responded to the Architect by providing two PNG image files for the solution. The Architect can respond to the General Contractor with a Comment and attach the two Image files to the RFI.

The images will be visible in the Comments area of the RFI. They can be selected and enlarged for viewing. In any case, the Architect can change the Status to Answered.

BIM 360 Docs will request an official response by the Architect after the Status Change. At which point, the Architect can select the Mark as Answered button. This changes the pushpin from a yellow color to a green color. Simultaneously, a notification email is sent to the General Contractor as well as, the Subcontractor. The Architect could change the Status to Rejected. This would change the color of the pushpin to red and send a notification email to the General Contractor

The Status change and official response are be visible in both the web-browser and BIM 360 Docs app.

The General Contractor now has the responsibility of closing the RFI. In the RFI, the General Contractor changes the Status to Closed.

This changes the color of the pushpin from green to gray. A notification email is sent to the Subcontractor once the RFI is closed.

Any Member added to the folder the document is stored in can view the history of the closed RFI.

BIM 360 Docs continues to evolve month by month. The development team is hard at work to make this functionality even better in the next update. Enjoy!