Request for Information (RFI)
Request for Information: This article explains a Request for Information (RFI) in a practical way. After reading it, you will understand the basics of this powerful project management tool.
What is Request for Information (RFI)?
A Request for Information is simply just that: a request for information. An RFI is a common business process for the purpose of collecting and transferring information to the person making the request. Information requests are common, whether we know it or not.
Since RFIs are primarily used to collect information for decision-making processes, it is rare that these requests are made at the last stage of a business process. Other common requests made in business are a Request for Quotation (RFQ) and a Request for Proposal (RFP).
RFIs are often written by customers (B2B) and sent to potential suppliers. It is usually a first set of requests intended to narrow down the list of candidate suppliers. It is a very useful method for collecting information, especially if the organization in question has little in-house knowledge of potential suppliers.
In order to properly distinguish the differences between suppliers, it is necessary for the RFI to focus on requirements that are unique to the customer. RFI recipients are often asked to reply in standard format, making it easier to compare suppliers.
Where is an RFI used?
A Request for Information is valuable in various scenarios, such as in IT, the construction sector and marketing sector.
In the IT sector, an inquiry is often used to acquire and test software from suppliers. Software is often used for a longer period of time, so it is important that everything is in order and that the right supplier is chosen. An RFI must therefore provide insight into technical and business requirements of the software, use cases, management options and integration with other software.
In the construction industry, RFIs are used to identify business and construction requirements. They can be sent from, for example, the contractor to a designer, or from a contractor to a client. The information request is often about building materials, specifications, design drawings or other matters related to construction work.
Companies and organizations that operate in the health sector often also make use of a Request for Information. This often concerns functional, technical and operational requirements of equipment or other matters.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a complex matter for many organizations. A good system is therefore indispensable. RFIs in this area often deal with criteria for business systems regarding accounting, inventory management, production management or personnel technology.
An RFI is usually sent in a specific format, depending on the requested information and the supplier. The most common components of an RFI are:
- Evaluation criteria
There is no fixed or correct way to set up an RFI. Each company decides for itself which elements are included in the request form. In addition to the above elements, the following items can also be found on the form:
- Basic information such as contact information
- Explanation of the reason for the information request
- Request for basic information and supplier contact information
- Possible nondisclosure-agreements
- Customer references
- Questions about working methods and action plans
- Questions about suppliers’ experience and expertise on similar projects
Buyers may confuse different suppliers and confuse communications. This can damage the relationship. Often, buyers do not provide accurate details about their requirements. This in turn can lead to inaccurate and unnecessary communication. Suppliers, in turn, make mistakes by, for example, not looking at a request carefully enough and sending back wrong answers or information.
RFI can offer enormous benefits, especially for smaller companies that do not have much in-house knowledge. A wealth of information can be obtained about requirements and conditions without any obligation. The list of potential suppliers can also be expanded. The method is very effective ic to build relationships.
Below are some tips for preparing an RFI. Keep these in mind as much as possible to ensure clarity in the request.
- Limit the information in the information request to only the information that is really needed. Keep it concise.
- Be specific in describing the requested information, but avoid going into too much detail.
- Look at previously asked RFI’s and try to do the information request in the same way, making it easy to compare answers.
- Limit information requests to information about products, resources, capabilities (services). Use a Request for Quotation (RFQ) for a pricing request.
- Give fair response opportunities. Set a deadline that is not too short for receiving the requested information. Give the company a chance to come up with an accurate answer. Usually a lead time of one or two weeks is used.
- The RFI must not show that you want to buy something (purchase intention).
- If necessary, use attachments such as photos or other overviews to better understand which information is required (for example, construction drawings).
Request for Information template
As discussed, there are many elements that can be included in an inquiry, depending on the purpose of the RFI. A Toolshero template for a Request for Information is available in this article, which contains most of the basic elements.
Now It’s Your turn
What do you think? ADo you recognize the explanation of a Request for Information? Do you use information requests in your work environment? Do you send them? Or do you take them on yourself? Let us know about your experience with RFIs in the comments.
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Hanna, A. S., Tadt, E. J., & Whited, G. C. (2012). Request for Information: benchmarks and metrics for major highway projects. Journal of construction engineering and management, 138(12), 1347-1352.
- Center, F. C. (1999). Request for Information.
- Berners-Lee, T. J. (1989). Information management: A proposal (No. CERN-DD-89-001-OC).
- Choo, C. W. (2002). Information management for the intelligent organization: the art of scanning the environment. Information Today, Inc.
How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2022). Request for Information (RFI). Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/project-management/request-for-information/
Published on: 09/05/2022 | Last update: 01/16/2023
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