Wikipedia defines an RFI as “a standard business process whose purpose is to collect written information about the capabilities of various suppliers. Normally it follows a format that can be used for comparative purposes. An RFI is primarily used to gather information to help make a decision on what steps to take next. RFIs are therefore seldom the final stage and are instead often used in combination with the following: request for proposal (RFP), request for tender (RFT), and request for quotation (RFQ).”
The first issue is to differentiate between an RFI, RFQ and an RFP. As we stated above, an RFI is a merely a request for information and should be primarily utilized to determine the suitability of a company to move to the next step, namely participation in the RFQ / RFP process. An RFI should not be used to request prices. An RFQ on the other hand, is a straight forward request for pricing for a clearly defined part, product or service. An RFP is a more sophisticated request for pricing and will often include a requirement for a detailed statement on how a prospective supplier will meet a technical specification, the quality requirements of a project and the schedule.
Examples of information that might be requested in an RFI are:
- Supplier facilities, including manufacturing capacity and capabilities,
- Certifications, such as ISO 9000 / 9002,
- Current order book / major projects under contract,
- Financial statement(s),
- Engineering resources,
- Company Quality Plan,
- Company culture,
- Profiles of Senior Management,
- Company goals over the next 5 or 10 years,
- A complete list of products and / or services that the potential supplier might offer.
- To enable information to be gathered in a formal, structured and comparable way.
- Suppliers understand that there is a competition going on.
- You show that you try to act without a prejudice or with a preferred supplier.
- You get a formal reply from the suppliers