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  • Writer's pictureJordi Vandenhouwe

What is an RfI (Request for Information)?

In the competitive world of e-tendering, the foundation for any successful tender process begins with a deep understanding of what is being sought after. Whether you're a small business diving into the public procurement process for the first time or an experienced enterprise looking for efficiency, it’s essential to understand the role of an RFI (Request for Information). With digital e-tendering platforms like Valcori the, the process has never been smoother. But first, let’s get back to basics.

Request for Information

A Request for Information, commonly abbreviated as RfI, is a structured method used by organisations to collect important information from potential vendors of a product or service (suppliers). Think of it as an initial scouting mission; an RFI is designed to scout potential vendor candidates and sharpen the focus of the subsequent procurement steps. Its core functions are:

  1. Preliminary Market Exploration: The RFI process helps organisations scout the market terrain, identifying potential suppliers who might fit their criteria.

  2. Vendor Filtering: RFIs filter out the vendor landscape, shortlisting potential suppliers who can meet the requirements of a more detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quotation (RFQ).

  3. Information Consolidation: By using an RFI, companies can assemble vital data like technical proficiencies, corporate credentials, and functional capabilities, often saving both time and money.

The Blueprint for Crafting an RFI

RFIs can vary in structure depending on the industry in question. Nevertheless, a typical RFI contains:

1. Introduction

  • Background: Provide context about the organization, the project, and why the RfI is being issued.

  • Objective: Clearly state the purpose of the RfI and what you hope to achieve.

2. Scope of Requirements

  • Overview: Summarize the overall requirements, including the goods or services being sought.

  • Detailed Requirements: Break down specific needs related to different aspects like finance, operations, technology, etc.

3. Instructions to Respondents

  • Submission Guidelines: Detail how and when the information should be submitted.

  • Contact Information: Provide contact details for inquiries related to the RfI.

  • Confidentiality and Legal Considerations: Outline any legal or confidentiality requirements.

4. Information Requested

Here, you may break down the information request into various topics that pertain to different aspects of the business or project.

  • Company Information: Background, experience, and qualifications of the potential supplier.

  • Financial Information: Pricing models, payment terms, financial stability of the supplier.

  • Operational Information: Manufacturing capabilities, supply chain management, quality control procedures.

  • Technical Information: Technical specifications, technology platforms, innovation capabilities.

  • Compliance and Certifications: Information related to legal compliance, industry certifications, and adherence to standards.

  • References: Request for client references or case studies demonstrating relevant experience.

Clarity and conciseness are of utmost importance while drafting an RFI. Remember, the primary goal is to enable a rapid, yet thorough evaluation of potential vendors.

Discover some free RFI templates here. (including templates for IT services, energy supplies, road transport, and many more)

RFI: Best Practices and Recommendations

  1. Precision is Key: Limit requests to essential information, and provide clear guidelines for responses.

  2. Set Fair Timeframes: A typical RFI response can be expected within a week or two, depending on its complexity.

  3. Closed questions: Make clear to the point questions so that their is no ambiguity left. This will make it easier to compare the answers of your RfI's between companies.

  4. Swap roles: Ask your current suppliers which questions he needed to answer on his last tenders to gain valuable insights about sector specific questions!

Performing your RfI digitally?

RFIs are the trailblazers of the e-tendering process. They set the stage, ensuring that businesses embark on their procurement journey with the right information. Large e-Procurement platforms like SAP Ariba, Coupa make navigating this journey more efficient. Looking for a more a more affordable solution? Then Valcori might be a good fit for you as a tender management tool.


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