Understanding the Differences between the RFI and RFP: A Guide to Vendor Evaluation

Alison Ipswich

When is the right time to issue an RFI vs RFP? 

An RFI (Request for Information) and an RFP (Request for Proposal) are both types of procurement documents used in business transactions, but they serve different purposes.

An RFI is a preliminary request for information sent by a potential buyer to potential suppliers. Its purpose is to gather information about products, services, or solutions that may be available in the market. RFIs are often used to research and evaluate various options before making a decision on which suppliers to invite to submit proposals in response to an RFP.

An RFI is typically sent during the initial stage of the procurement process, which is often referred to as the pre-solicitation phase. At this stage, the buyer is still in the process of gathering information and researching potential suppliers, products, or services that may be available in the market.

Sending an RFI can help the buyer to:

  • Gather information about the products or services available in the market and identify potential suppliers
  • Understand the capabilities, experience, and expertise of potential suppliers
  • Identify the latest technologies and innovations available in the market
  • Identify any potential issues or challenges that may arise during the procurement process

By sending an RFI early in the process, the buyer can obtain valuable information that will help them make informed decisions about the procurement process, such as whether to proceed with an RFP, which suppliers to invite to respond to an RFP, and how to structure the procurement requirements.

When drafting an RFI for technology vendors, consider these Q's:

  1. What types of technology solutions or services do you offer?
  2. How does your technology solution differ from other solutions on the market?
  3. What is the implementation process for your technology solution?
  4. Can you provide examples of how your technology has been successfully implemented in other organizations?
  5. What is the cost structure of your technology solution?
  6. What is the timeline for implementing your technology solution?
  7. What level of customer support do you offer for your technology solution?
  8. How do you ensure the security and confidentiality of data in your technology solution?
  9. How do you handle upgrades and maintenance for your technology solution?
  10. What is your company's experience and expertise in the industry?

When to issue the RFP?

An RFP, on the other hand, is a formal request made by a buyer to potential suppliers to submit proposals outlining the details of the products or services they offer, the costs involved, and any other relevant information. The purpose of an RFP is to solicit detailed proposals from potential suppliers so that the buyer can compare and evaluate them in order to make a final purchasing decision.

In summary, an RFI is used for preliminary research to gather information about available options, while an RFP is used to request detailed proposals from suppliers and evaluate them for a final purchasing decision. 

By leveraging Traction Technology we make it easy to automate the entire vendor discovery, evaluation and RFI process. 

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