How Bluebeam Can Help the Public Sector Send RFIs, Submittals

Those involved in delivering built assets need access to the right data and information. For public sector organizations, this can be made easier using digital technology

Charged with delivering a range of services and construction projects, local authorities and other public sector organizations are under huge financial pressure. Some predict that a growing number of local authorities will soon literally run out of money and have to go bankrupt.

Like their private sector colleagues, many in the public sector are turning to digital technology to help them deliver better.

Bluebeam can help by managing the process of requests for information (RFI) and submittals—two aspects of a project’s delivery that are seemingly run of the mill but are crucial to the success of a construction project.

Information, information, information

An RFI is a way for stakeholders in a construction project to get information about a particular aspect of the job.

These can range from design clarifications, which can include resolving conflicts and clarifying incomplete plans and specifications, to requests for a design change, which are often due to errors in construction or sequencing problems.

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An RFI can also take the form of a request for substitutions, such as value engineering and material availability. In addition, it can resolve issues around constructability and circumstances arising from different site conditions. 

An RFI is usually required to clarify information in the contract documentation. Additionally, it can result in obtaining information that was not complete when the contract was signed.

Greater understanding

Submittals are a “cousin” of an RFI. They take the form of documents sent by a subcontractor or supplier to a project’s main contractor or designer to get the go-ahead to proceed with a specific aspect of the work.

A submittal can take the form of a design blueprint or schedule. It can also be used to spell out information on a particular product to be used on the project. It also can take the form of a product or material sample or a mock-up.

Both RFIs and submittals enable stakeholders to gain a better understanding of a project’s status.

Those public sector organizations that are unfamiliar with RFIs and submittals could learn from the experiences of the private sector and its use of Bluebeam.

Time, work saved

In the US, general contractor Balfour Beatty Construction was charged with building a 205,000-square-foot, $80 million church in North Texas. The Balfour Beatty team knew Bluebeam would deliver in terms of making digital delivery of submittals a reality.

It used Bluebeam’s PDF template feature to create a standard PDF submittal coversheet, featuring text boxes for easily typing comments and fields for digital signatures and stamps. This coversheet was inserted into every submittal using Bluebeam’s PDF page editing features.

Additionally, Balfour Beatty used Bluebeam to create and save a custom submittal stamp with fields for inputting the submittal number and date. And it used Bluebeam’s PDF markup tools, including change clouds, text and highlights, to add design changes and clarifications directly onto PDF drawings.

According to Robert Feille, Balfour Beatty’s senior project manager, apart from physical material samples, all submittals were completed digitally. “The amount of time and work we saved eliminating redundancy [was] incredible,” he said.

Quicker resolution

When it comes to RFIs, Bluebeam can assist with the creation of documentation, subsequent mark-ups and changes.

In addition, using Bluebeam Studio in Revu, the program’s collaboration capability, means contractors can query other project partners if they have questions or need more information.

This means those asking the questions get quicker resolutions to get RFIs completed faster and more accurately. 

It’s worth looking at the specific benefits of using Bluebeam when considering creating an RFI or compiling a submittal.

Bluebeam benefits

Users will be able to connect easily with their documents and tool sets from Bluebeam to manage RFIs, site inspections and submittals wherever they are.

Creating PDF forms from scanned or digital documents becomes simplified, while the process also automatically detects fields for signatures, dates and tick boxes.

Mark-up tools mean that project data can be shared with customizable, in-depth annotations, while custom mark-ups and measurements can be easily saved for reuse and dissemination to colleagues and other stakeholders.

PDFs—both 2D and 3D—can be created using a variety of existing programs, which can then be easily extracted, combined and organised, with essential layouts, page assembly and collation options.

Hyperlinks can be configured to open websites or network files, or alternately to jump to specific pages or “snapshots” within a given PDF.

Empowering organisations

Bluebeam empowers teams in the office and the field to easily manage RFIs and construction submittals on any device.

While it is under severe financial strain, the public sector will still be required to deliver a range of built assets to cater to the needs of ordinary people. It can benefit from joining the many organizations that have discovered the benefits of Bluebeam to seamlessly bring together the activities of design, planning, onsite delivery and much more.

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