If you’ve ever ordered products or services from a supplier or vendor, you might be familiar with the initialism “RFI.” Also known as a Request For Information, this document helps businesses evaluate potential suppliers for their operations. It makes it easier to streamline the collection of data and compare candidates based on relevant metrics.
While it’s a straightforward document, writing it can be complicated if there are multiple factors that you want to evaluate. In most cases, a business will seek out an RFI template to simplify the process and move on to negotiations more quickly.
What Is an RFI?
In simple terms, an RFI is a document that allows businesses to learn more about a supplier and its products and services. It can be used to gauge the capabilities of multiple candidates and compare them in a simple and streamlined fashion. As a result, a business can collect all relevant data and enter into the market prepared.
As you might expect, an RFI is especially useful for businesses that must organize multiple vendors before making their choice.
What Information Is Included in an RFI?
The information required for an RFI will depend on the business in question, as well as the products and services that they seek. Because of this, every RFI is different, and it can be customized to fit the needs of a business. However, there are certain bits of information that should be included in every request.
For starters, the business should provide basic information about their organization in the request, such as their contact details and business function. At the same time, it should also ask the prospective supplier for this same data. A confidentiality agreement is also recommended, to prevent the parties from sharing any protected information.
The other terms and data will vary from one business’s RFI to another. Common elements include the supplier’s references, statements for the reason for an RFI, and questions about the supplier’s experience in similar fields.
How To Create an RFI
An RFI can be considered a multi-purpose tool for businesses. Not only does it make it easier to collect relevant business information, but it also provides suppliers with insight into the company making the request.
When writing an RFI, you should always include the goals, background, and confidentiality policies of your business. This will help build trust with prospective suppliers. Afterwards, it’s recommended that you describe the skills and competencies required for a project or business agreement. If the receiving party can’t match them, you’ll be able to move on to more viable candidates.
Before you add specific questions, you must understand the needs of your company for the agreement. Ask about the supplier’s infrastructure and transportation capabilities, as well as their credibility, working methods, and quality control.
Include a response expectation in the RFI as well. It can include your expectations when it comes to information, as well as a deadline for the document.
How Does an RFI Template Help Your Business?
Creating an RFI can be a tedious and time-consuming task, depending on your line of work. You have to be exact with your questions and leave no room for ambiguity. Otherwise, the process would only take longer and require more of your resources. If you’re searching for many different types of suppliers in a similar timeframe, creating relevant and useful metrics can be challenging.
A well-crafted RFI template can shorten the process significantly and give you the most relevant questions and information upfront. Not only would it help you save time and energy, but it would also provide a more comprehensive request that is filled with all the information you need. Finding a quality RFI template is the more cost-effective option, as creating a custom request may not produce an equally efficient and polished result. Even when crafting an RFI on your own, it can help to have a template at hand to help with formatting.
When Should You Issue an RFI?
An RFI is used as a first step in the procurement process. It allows you to weigh your options before making a decision on how to solve a problem. Whether you intend to cooperate with a supplier in the short or long term, you should utilize an RFI to gauge their capacity. In practice, many businesses send RFIs once they’ve identified a problem and come into contact with various suppliers that could potentially resolve it.
However, an RFI can be sent alongside an RFP (Request For Proposal) and RFQ (Request For Quotation) to gather as much data as possible simultaneously. This helps speed up the process of acquiring a suitable supplier, and it gives businesses insight into potential financial arrangements.
When seeking a supplier, a business needs to gather all relevant information before making a decision. RFIs streamline this process and allow them to organize the data in a useful way before comparing candidates. With the help of a proper template, this process becomes even simpler and more straightforward, without requiring extra time or resources.
Written by Lara Harper