A Request For Information, also known as an RFI, is a document that businesses use to determine the capabilities of a particular supplier. It can grant insight into their products and services, giving business critical information that can help them decide whether or not to proceed with negotiations.
An RFI is a crucial comparative tool, as businesses often need to research multiple suppliers to see which one suits their needs most. Using the data gathered by this document, it’s possible to compare suppliers based on various metrics. However, it’s important to create a proper RFI to gather relevant information for any given market.
What Information Should You Include in an RFI?
While many business deals necessitate an RFI, the document will differ depending on the market and the suppliers involved. Knowing which information to include is a crucial part of an RFI’s effectiveness. With this in mind, certain parts of an RFI remain consistent for most business deals.
The document should always include essential information about your business, such as contact details and company activity. Similarly, there should be a request for the same information from the suppliers for which you’re crafting the request. It should also feature a confidentiality agreement that prevents both parties from sharing any disclosed information with any third parties. After this, it’s time to move on to the specifics.
How To Write an RFI
When writing an RFI, you have to keep your business’s criteria in mind and provide some information that will be relevant to the supplier.
Start with the statement for the reason for the RFI and presentation of the applicant company. From there, you can include questions about the supplier’s experience with similar projects, as well as their finances, business plan, and applicable technical skills. Ask about their references from other businesses as well. If you have a selection criteria matrix, apply it to your RFI to get relevant data for it.
These are the most common elements added to an RFI, but they’re not absolute—the requesting business can adjust them as they see fit, as numerous criteria can influence their decision for a supplier.
As this document often includes specific details that are crucial for business decisions, it’s important to include exact questions and format the RFI correctly. To make the process easier, it’s recommended that you find an RFI Template to help you plan your questions. With the right template, you can choose adequate questions for your desired market.
After you’ve received the data you require, you can move on and request an RFP and RFQ if you wish to further assess the supplier.
Why Do You Need an RFI?
With how complicated it can be to craft an RFI, it begs the question—why write one in the first place? The most straightforward answer is that it simplifies the process of gathering relevant information from various suppliers. Using this document, you can compile the data in a formal and structured manner and stay informed on your various candidates.
Most of the information you collect will be simple in nature, but it’s crucial information nonetheless. With its structure, an RFI makes it easy to communicate and understand the data you gather in a useful way. At the same time, you can also compare multiple suppliers using the metrics that they’ve provided, without having to go through business meetings and analyze data separately.
RFIs can act as the first step in an organized documentation process for solicitation. When combined with an RFP and RFQ, they provide you with all the necessary data you need to select a supplier that best matches your product or service needs.
What To Do After Sending an RFI
Once you’ve crafted your RFI and sent it to suppliers, you have to move on to the next step. We’ve mentioned RFPs and RFQs, but we haven’t gone over their function or purpose. In most cases, they follow an RFI when evaluating suppliers, but they can also be sent at the same time if necessary. They include all the essential contact and business information that an RFI does, but differ in other aspects.
An RFP, or Request For Proposal, is a document that you can use to ask suppliers to propose solutions for one or more of your business problems. At the same time, it’s used to request information about product and service prices. It’s more complicated than an RFI, as it includes exact goals with a starting point and specific expectations. Everything from the quality and safety of services to the execution of the proposal has to be included in the supplier’s answer.
An RFQ, or Request For Quotation, is more specific and helps you learn about the price of products and services in exact terms. It includes details about what these elements include for a particular price, as well as potential deadlines for submitting a budget.
RFIs are useful tools for any business that wants to find an adequate supplier for their operations. The document can help filter out inadequate candidates quickly and provide a basis for decision-making for an endeavour. With the correct template, you can save time in collecting essential data and move to negotiate with a good supplier almost immediately.