What is a request for information (RFI)?

An RFI, or Request for Information, is a standard business process for collecting written information about the capabilities of various suppliers. Typically used in the early stages of procurement, an RFI is primarily a fact-finding document used to gather market intelligence. It is not as detailed as a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a Request for Quotation (RFQ), which are used later in the procurement process.

Key aspects of an RFI include:

  1. Information Gathering: RFIs are used to gather information to help make a decision about what steps to take next in the procurement process. It's often used when a buyer does not have a clear understanding of the market or is not sure of what is available.
  2. No Commitment to Purchase: An RFI does not require the vendor to submit a proposal or a quote, and there is no commitment from the organization to purchase.
  3. Clarification of Requirements: It helps in understanding the range of solutions available and may be used to refine the requirements for an eventual RFP or RFQ.
  4. Vendor Identification: An RFI can also help identify potential vendors or suppliers who can be invited to participate in future RFPs or RFQs.
  5. Preparation for RFP or RFQ: Information gathered during the RFI process can be invaluable in creating a more effective and targeted RFP or RFQ.