RFPs: Everything You Need to Know About the RFP Process

RFP request types and general timeline

Request for Information:  A request for information[10], or an RFI, is useful for organizations or teams that need a little help before they’re truly confident they know what they’re looking for. An RFI is sometimes referred to as an expression of interest (EOI).

RFI sample

Image courtesy of SlideShare[11]

An RFI sometimes indicates that the stakeholders are on the fence about purchasing these external services, and they need more details or information before they can truly decide. Because of this, vendors may not put as much effort into providing the information as they would into drafting a proposal.

While information might be vital to your company determining what direction to take a project, you also want vendors to feel their time is being used wisely. Consider beginning with your own research and issuing an RFI for things you just can’t figure out on your own.

Request for Proposal: Does this look familiar? Good! It’s what we’ve been talking about this whole time. After receiving the information you needed, it’s time to send out those RFPs. These are also often referred to as RFOs, or a request for offer. Don’t be confused if you see the two interchanged throughout your research or solicitation process.

sample RFP

Image courtesy of SlideShare[12]

RFPs indicate that you’re looking for submissions to help you reach a solution to your business problem or venture. Because RFPs are more actionable than RFIs, vendors may feel more of an incentive to respond. By the time you’re ready to send out an RFP, you should be certain that, as an organization, you are ready and able to put money down on this project. 

Request for Quote: So you have everything you need to know except for the price tag. If numbers are the only thing keeping you from hiring a vendor, submit a request for quote (RFQ[13]).

This is basically a document stating, “I know what I want, I’m committed to investing in this project, and I need to know how much you would charge for it.”  

Request for Tender: A request for tender[14], also referred to as a request for invitation, is more common in reference to government projects or proposals.

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