What Is An RFI? (Request For Information)

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A Request for Information (RFI) is a conventional business process for collecting written information regarding various suppliers. It is used in market research as a solicitation issued to a large number of potential suppliers with the goal of conditioning suppliers’ minds, establishing strategy, and building a database in preparation for an impending contract competition. 

When there are a number of potential suppliers and you don’t have all of the information you need about them, an RFI should be employed.

An RFI is a market research document to get general information about vendors regarding the products and services they provide in order to conduct market research.

RFI Benefits

Some of the prominent benefits of RFI include: 

  • Information is collected in a structured and formal way.
  • Suppliers comprehend the nature of competition.
  • You try to act without a prejudice or with a preferred supplier.
  • You get a formal reply from the suppliers

The Request for Information (RFI) in the Solicitation Process

A Request for Information is typically used in the first phase of procurement.

Planning for Market Research as part of Procurement

Market research is led to regulate the availability of commercial products and services and to determine and assess market practices. It is a constant process of finding viable sources of products and services to meet government requirements and is mandated for all acquisition programs.

RFIs are rarely the last stage of a contract solicitation. However, they are often used in conjunction with the following for a contract request:

  • Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Request for Technical Proposal (RTP)
  • Request for Tender (RFT)
  • Request for Quotation (RFQ)

How to Write a Request for Information (RFI)

Starting with the information you want from suppliers is the key to writing a good RFI. To do so, make sure that all key stakeholders have agreed on the goals and objectives, and that the requirements have been identified. 

Writing an RFI follows the same processes as writing any other important document, such as a Request for Proposal (RFP).

  • Build A Strong Team

The most critical step involved in writing an effective RFI is to collect the most experienced and effective team members. The main players responsible for implementing the development process include: 

  • Program Contracting Officer (PCO)
  • RFI Manager 
  • Program Manager (PM)
  • Develop A Plan

A well-developed plan specifies how the RFI content should be created while the main goals are also achieved. An effective strategy provides all proposal team members with a timeline for roles and duties along with the items that are due.

  •  Create An Outline

It is preferable to use a template since it ensures that all content is included in the RFI. The initial rough copy of the draft is prepared by team members and evaluated by the program manager and stakeholders to ensure that it obtains all of the information required by suppliers and assists in meeting market research needs.

  • Finalize RFI

The final RFI is prepared for all the team members and presented to the program manager. The RFI is then sent out to the industry.

Elements of a Good RFI

Any RFI developer’s goal is to ensure that they get the information they need to make decisions.

The following is a list of key elements that will assist you to determine whether the RFI you produced will achieve its goals:

  • Does it apply to the information that is required from your suppliers?
  • Is it easy to compare the obtained information?
  • Is there any certain format or timeframe for response?
  • Is the supplier informed about what the information will be used for?

Concluding Thoughts

RFIs contain less information than RFPs or RFQs. However, they are less complex to prepare and can help you weed out providers right away if you already know that they don’t supply what you need. A good RFI request will yield replies and essential information that will help the supplier become viable, resulting in the building of a valuable vendor portfolio for future purchasing strategies.