RFI (Request For Information) Definition
Requests for information (RFI) are fairly formal documents written by an organization in order to collect information from potential suppliers in order to determine their capabilities. In an RFI, customers are asked to provide information about their business and send it to potential suppliers. The RFI (Request for Information) is usually the first and most fundamental type of set of requests intended to refine a list of vendors that are strong prospects.
If you are writing a RFI in such a case, you will be presenting your organization with a great deal of benefit when you have little information about potential vendors and want to find a quick and easy way to evaluate those vendors.
There are many instances when a request for information (RFI) is used, for example, when the purchaser is purchasing a major piece of IT (information technology). It is not uncommon for a company to use an RFI, or a request for information, in order to avoid the risk of missing out on market information and gather it in a more structured and formal way. There must be a document which contains the requirements of an organization along with a specific request for the vendor regarding how it intends to meet those requirements.
As a means of identifying the differences between different vendors, a good request for information will also focus on requirements that are unique to the inquiring organization, as well as concerns that are less likely to be addressed by the vendors themselves. In order to make comparisons much easier, recipients are usually asked to submit their responses in a standard format.
When To Use An RFI (Request For Information)?
There is a wide range of scenarios in which RFIs are used. It is all about obtaining information from potential suppliers.
- In general, RFIs are used by organizations to acquire goods or services from vendors over the long term which will usually be used for a while, which is why it’s necessary for the organization to be sure to select the right vendor for the job. If the RFI is clearly written, it lays out the business requirements the supplier may face in the future as well as possible requirements that they may win a contract for, allowing them to respond or price accordingly.
- A rule of thumb is that RFIs are used before quoting and will continue to be used after the quotation process has been completed. In order to properly respond to an RFI, you would need to enclose questions about materials, specifications, design drawings, standards, or contract information.
- In a request for information, vendors can be asked to provide a list of their clients within the industry, a list of areas of conflict and a list of relevant areas in which they may excel. In addition, CV’s of potential contractors or full-time employees that will be involved in the project would be helpful.
- A request for information should detail the criteria regarding what an organization requires.
How To Create A RFI (Request for Information)?
There will be a difference in how an RFI is written depending on the industry in which the RFI will be issued. An RFI, however, will be detailed and should consist of four or five pages, and should include the following sections:
- A brief overview
- Information requested
- Expected response Timeframe
- Detailed explanation
The objective of the overview is to state a description of the organization’s goals, and how those goals converge to meet its long-term and short-term objectives. An introduction to the requestor’s organization should be included here, along with some basic information about the requestor. It is very important that the vendor knows who the organization is by the end of this section, and that the document is an RFI.
There should be a section covering the information being sought in the second section. In the vendor information section, you should explain in detail what information you expect the vendor to provide, including specifications such as the time frames for the delivery and the functional specifications. In terms of the introductory information that the vendor should provide to the customer, it should be evident from this section that there are not too many details to be provided. If a vendor is able to provide a response after reading this section, then they should have enough information to do so.
What is expected of the response should be described in the next section. A detailed description of the evaluation criteria should be included in this document as well as instruction on how and when to respond. The request for information as well as the response for the request for information can be sent by electronic means, such as by email. Ideally, information requests for information in this section should be formatted so that the vendor can use a pre-made template to answer those questions. This would allow comparisons to be made easily between vendor answers later on.
This section of the presentation should be the last in the order of the presentation and should give any last-minute details that still need to be mentioned. For example, clarifications can be given about the types of information that are not to be sought.
It is important that a structure is decided based on the needs of the sender while writing the request for information. When formatting the information requests and response templates, it is important to bear in mind that one of the main reasons for having the RFI is so we can evaluate multiple vendors quickly. You should give clear instructions for how to respond, and in a specific order.s should be given in a specific format or order. The RFI should be written in a way that makes it easy for vendors to respond. An organization should make sure the RFI is clear and concise once it’s written.
RFI (Request For Information) Tips
In order to write a good RFI, keep in mind a few best practices before you start writing it. It is important to keep these practices in mind even after writing the RFI in order to ensure that it is clear. The following are some tips to follow:
- Make sure you only request information that is relevant to the topic at hand.
- Make sure you are specific with your request, but avoid going into detailed details.
- Make sure you follow any previously established formats in order to make the comparison process as straightforward as possible.
- Don’t ask for information that isn’t relevant to what you are asking for.
- Ensure you give reasonable response times. A response to an RFI takes typically less time than a response to a different form, so it should be possible to expect a turnaround time of one to two weeks.
- An RFI is used for collecting general information. Rather than including detailed and specific information, organizations should keep their RFIs general in nature. Requests for information should not be construed as final purchase decisions.
- As part of some RFIs, visual aids are also sometimes included to help the vendor easily understand what information the RFI is requesting.
How To Respond To An RFI (Request For Information)
In response to the RFI, the vendor will reply back to an organization after the initial RFI has been sent. An organization using a response management platform such as oboloo will be able to receive RFI responses in a digital format. Furthermore the users of the platform will be able to pull from an answer library available on the management platform to make for more accurate and faster answers.
You can submit scanned documents through email, for example, as part of the whole response process. You can also send a paper response.
RFX - Understanding RFP's, RFQ's & RFI's
An RFP gathers information from potential vendors in a more structured way. The RFP specifies what the customer wants, as well as the evaluation criteria he or she will use to evaluate vendors’ proposals. In a bidding process, RFPs are commonly used between vendors. Normally, you make an RFP after an RFI because it’s more specific.
The objective of an RFI is to obtain general information and to determine whether a vendor should receive an RFP or RFQ. Once the idea of purchasing a product or service becomes closer, a request for proposals can then be used. A request for quotation may be the best option if the organization knows exactly what it needs and only needs the vendor to supply the right tools.