Purchasing and implementing new solutions is a big part of the game for IT departments. Any time we deal with purchasing new gear or solutions, we are working with vendors, partners, and resellers. When working with these outside entities, there are different requests that we can draft to send to our partners/resellers/service providers. These are named request for information (RFI), request for proposal (RFP), and request for quote (RFQ). Here are my interpretations of these three request types.
Request for Information (RFI)
A request for information (RFI) is sent to vendors, partners, resellers, or service providers when an organization knows at least at a high level the business need, but they require more information about how a solution functions, the problems it solves, and how it is implemented. An RFI will generally contain at least the following information:
-Description of the need or definition of the project at hand.
-Any necessary background information on the organization or the need/project.
-Any qualifications or caveats for selection of the solution/product.
-List of objectives for the need, project, or initiative.
-Timeframe of when the organiztion wants to purchase and implement the potential solution.
Request for Proposal (RFP)
To me, an RFI would be sent early on; in the investigation process of a potential project, when an organization is trying to find out what potential solutions are out there and available. A request for proposal (RFP), on the other hand, is sent out when a business is more serious about a particular solution. An RFP is sent out when a customer wants to see the specifics on how a vendor, partner, or service provider will implement a given solution and how it will fit and operate within the customer’s environment. At a high level, the RFP should outline:
-The project or need in question.
-The customer’s budget for the project/need.
-The timeline for which the customer wants to implement the proposed solution.
Request for Quote (RFQ)
My interpretation here is that a request for quote (RFQ) is similar to an RFP, but more focused on the associated costs of a solution. The RFQ is sent out to vendors/partners/resellers when an organization is ready to make a decision on a potential solution and wants to see both how the given solution will be implemented, but also the associated costs. Once a solution is selected as a result of an RFQ, that is when the contract/purchasing process will begin.
Rounding it Out
Unfortunately, products and solutions do not just magically show up on our doorsteps when we need something. For more in depth solutions, there may be multiple phases to the purchasing process and we can use request types such as the RFI, RFP, and RFQ to help us along the journey to meeting a business need.