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RFI - RFP - RFQ: Which one do you need?

Posted by Bertrand Duteil on 26/04/2018


When launching a new project or a new product, you will often need new supplies and new suppliers. In order to get a qualitative product for the best price, you will need to go through a long phase of supplier selection and to compare the different offers you get.

To make the selection easier, you can request several documents from your potential new supplier such as an RFI, an RFP and/or an RFQ.

We will today learn more about those three documents and give you tips to always request the one you really need.

Request for Information - RFI

A Request for Information (RFI) is a document demanded when companies are looking for new suppliers for a specific product. It is generally requested to get general information about a company and technical specifications about a product or a service. As a first contact with a company, the RFI can be sent to a broad list of potential suppliers in order to shortlist the ones able to fill in the requirements. A specific template can be sent to these potential suppliers in order to facilitate the comparison and the selection.

An RFI generally includes:

  • Table of contents
  • Introduction and purpose of the RFI
  • Explanation of scope
  • Abbreviations and terminology
  • Template to complete
  • Details of next steps - RFP or RFQ

If the potential buyer is interested by the RFI, further information will generally be requested through an RFP or an RFQ.

Request for Proposal - RFP

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a document demanded when companies need technical expertise or a product which does not exist yet. Often sent after an RFI, it informs potential suppliers that a budget has been allocated to a specific project and companies can try and bid for it. The document sent by the potential supplier should be complete and comprehensive, in order to help the buyer choose him over another. An RFQ can be added to the RFP to complete it.

An RFP generally includes:

  • Table of contents
  • Confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement
  • Basic information about the client and the process
  • Extent and scope of the project
  • Proposed time frame
  • Detailed design information and requirements
  • Commercial requirements
  • Budget
  • Evaluation and award criteria
  • Submission instructions

Request for Quotation - RFQ

A Request for Quotation (RFQ) is a document exposing the prices and offers to the potential buyer. Generally used for standard products or services, it invites suppliers to participate to the bidding auction for new services or products. Considered as a legal document, it has to be as precise and accurate as possible. There can be several RFQ and several rounds of bidding in order to get to the final offer, eventually sealed with a contract when the vendor accepts this offer.

An RFQ generally includes:

  • Price per item
  • Payment terms
  • Quality level per item
  • Contract length
  • Technical specification of the product

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Tags: supplier documentation, document types, tips, product documentation