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In-Focus: PlanGrid for Apple iOS and Android and Desktop has new RFI Lifecycle Solution

PlanGrid’s new RFI module tackles the time-wasting RFI process from within the context of a drawing collaboration and centralized storage app, offering advantages not seen in other solutions.


PlanGrid is a company that has risen quickly within the AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) industry by delivering PlanGrid to the mobile space, first on Apple’s iOS key device for construction industry—the iPad.

PlanGrid with RFI

Architects, engineers and contractors know how time-consuming the RFI (request for information) process can be. With a complete paper-based process—even if the initial RFI request is sent via email—it tends to transition to, and terminate with, digital tools if people are working smartly. PlanGrid, a very popular CAD drawings viewer and cloud-collaboration tool in AEC, introduced a dedicated all-in-one RFI solution.

Launched in late October of 2014, the new RFI features are added tools to the existing PlanGrid cloud-driven app, which is on both iOS and Android platforms and works through standard web browsers at the desktop. The new features are free.

01 - PlanGrid's new RFI module is free and the company is claiming the first all-in-one solution.

01 – PlanGrid’s new RFI module is free and the company is claiming the first all-in-one solution.

The new RFI system is handled under its own tab in the PlanGrid user interface at the dashboard level. RFI statuses can be fully customized to project needs in states like Open, Draft, Submitted, etc. Users can generate snapshots from blueprints, across all platforms, which automatically synchronize to the cloud for easy referencing. Users can also attach related materials from their accounts such as photos and spec sheets. RFI PDF reports can be generated for distribution to the team via email.

Most importantly however is that users can track RFI statuses and manage the RFI process more effectively by having a real-time, constantly updated and sync’d to the cloud tool dedicated to the task.

Recently PlanGrid added commenting across projects so general communication, and more specific follow-through communication, can take place—eliminating finger-pointing and accountability issues. PlanGrid records every edit to the RFI and all edits are viewed in the RFI history, so details aren’t lost and past decisions can be reviewed.

The above YouTube video shows the new RFI features in PlanGrid by demoing adding a new RFI. 

A really cool feature is that users can post RFI responses directly to drawings which then can be published to the whole team in seconds.

“PlanGrid is excited to be providing the first all-in-one RFI solution to the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry,” said Tracy Young, PlanGrid co-founder. “PlanGrid’s new RFI feature is easy to use and will save AEC professionals time, money and frustration—which in turn will create additional value for their own customers.”

You can read the company’s blog post about the new RFI features here.

Architosh Analysis

PlanGrid is one of the hottest construction collaboration and punchlist software tools for contractors and architects on the market today, making a stellar claim of over 90,000 construction projects and more than 9 million pages of CAD drawings in its online cloud. The company made a big splash by talking so enthusiastically about “How the iPad Will Change the Construction Industry” in one of its earliest blog posts.

It is interesting to look at the rapid success of PlanGrid when placed in the context of more complex project collaboration tools aimed at the AEC market. Remember the days of the AEC project portals? Buzzsaw? While PlanGrid is claiming they have the first all-in-one RFI cloud-based tool, the truth is here on Architosh we wrote about Rform™ from Canada, which tackles the whole CA (construction administration) process via a web app. Yet, Rform doesn’t work from within a drawing collaboration and markup tool. We probably shouldn’t get hung up on the term “all-in-one” here in this context. A RFI often generates changes to contract price and contact time, necessitating an understanding of the whole CA process.

MORE: In-Depth: Architosh talks to the makers of Rform

It will be interesting to see PlanGrid evolve and how it may compete with such tools as Bluebeam, Autodesk’s 360 online tools and more, like Rform.

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