When should you issue an RFI versus an RFP?

So, your organization is looking for a solution or services to meet a set of business requirements, but where do you start?

How do you know which companies would be able to meet your requirements, or which companies have done this type of work before?

You could issue a Request for Proposal (RFP), but these tend to be lengthy and you could end up getting dozens, if not hundreds of responses, which you would need to go through and evaluate.

This is where the RFI (Request for Information) comes in. The RFI is an efficient way of finding out who would be suitable bidders when you eventually issue an RFP.

An RFI can also be useful when you do not yet clearly understand all of your requirements.

By stating a broad set of requirements in an RFI, you can usually ask for the capabilities of potential bidders for each requirement.

Usually, responders will provide more details of their capabilities, which may help you further define your requirements.

How do you go about structuring an RFI? There are many different methods and structures but typically you would want to include the following:

  • Your organization’s basic information (name, location, telephone, email)
  • The purpose of the RFI
  • The business problem you are trying to address
  • The scope of the RFI (as you understand it)
  • The objectives – what you hope to achieve
  • Time period to respond
  • Mandatory information for responders
  • A contact person for responders to ask questions and make submissions to

Try to provide as much information as possible up front. This helps potential responders understand the business problem and saves you time answering lots of questions. If you can be specific, then do so, but if you are unsure in a certain area, state that you are looking for the responders to provide information that would assist you.

Ensure that your questions and requirements are clearly numbered, and state that all questions and requirements must have a response otherwise disqualification will occur.

State that no contract will be awarded based on the information provided, but that a short list of responders will be invited to respond to a future RFP based on our new understanding of your organization’s credibility and capabilities.

Then, issue the RFP in a timely manner.

Interested in finding out more about RFIs or RFPs? Give us a call to find out how we can help you get started finding the right organization to meet your requirements.