What is a request for information?

A request for information can be used as a basic business process to evaluate potential suppliers.

Request for Information, or RFI, is a common business strategy designed to allow potential customers to collect data about the services and support offered by different potential providers. The exact format of the document will vary depending on the type and depth of information the client wishes to obtain. A request for information is often a simple question-and-answer document that requires very simple answers, allowing the customer to send the request to multiple providers and easily compare responses.

Although the request for information shares some features with the request for proposal or RFP, clients tend to use the RFI as a means of collecting basic data in preparation for deciding which vendors will be selected for an invitation to submit a formal proposal. The typical RFI does not provide much data on the customer’s history and tends to focus more on general business practices, the provider’s range of products and services available, and sometimes the standard published price. In contrast, the RFP often goes beyond this basic information, providing additional customer data, requesting pricing based on usage volume, and inviting vendors to respond with solutions to specific customer needs.

From this perspective, requesting information can be seen as a means of gathering information that is evaluated and used to determine the next step in the process. If the idea is eventually to seek suppliers for the establishment of a long-term contractual agreement, the client can send the RFI to several companies that offer the desired basic products. Once all responses are received, the client compares the merits of each response, narrowing the list of RFP candidates to just a few. At this point, vendors who have successfully passed this preliminary stage are invited to submit a proposal, usually using a request and a specific format provided by the prospective client.

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An inquiry can also be used as a basic business process to screen potential suppliers when long-term contractual arrangements are not practical. In this scenario, RFI is intended to identify suppliers that offer the most competitive standard price for goods and services that the customer may need from time to time. For example, a local business might send an RFI to all local office supply stores as a means of finding out which has the lowest price on general office supplies, which offers volume discounts if an order exceeds a certain quantity, and who delivers. the orders. with or without shipping costs. The data is kept on file, allowing the small business to make decisions about where to buy office supplies when needed.

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