What are RFI, RFP, and RFQ?

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min read time
February 8, 2023
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"Procurement is about creating value for the organization, not just about buying things."

Procurement is a complex process that involves detailed analysis, negotiation, and the purchase of products from suppliers. Organizations need to ensure that they are getting the best value for their money and that the products and services are of the highest quality.

To achieve this, organizations follow a string of processes such as Requests for Information (RFI), Requests for Proposal (RFP), and Requests for Quotation (RFQ).

So, understanding the different types of requests (RFI, RFP, and RFQ) is essential in any business setting. Different projects, contracts, and situations require different approaches to finding the right vendors and suppliers for your needs.

Knowing which one to use and when can be difficult if the teams are unable to understand what they are in the first place. So this article will discuss the various types of requests, their roles in the procurement process, and their benefits.

RFI vs. RFP vs. RFQ

RFI, RFP, and RFQ are the three main components of the procurement process.

  • An RFI or Request for Information is used to gather information from vendors about their capabilities, products, and services to verify before making the right decision.
  • Once requirements are identified, a Request for Proposal(RFP) is sent to attract proposals from vendors that address the organization's requirements. It is used to evaluate and close down a single vendor from a qualified pool of suppliers.
  • And finally, a Request for Quotation(RFQ) is used to request quotes from suppliers for specific products and services. Quotations can help select vendors for future purchases.

These three terms are used throughout the procurement process. Moreover, they all share the same goal: to procure the best products and applications at the best price.

Let's take a closer look at each one.

What is a Request for information (RFI)?

RFI is a valuable tool for organizations to use when gathering information about a product or service. “It allows them to get a better understanding of what is available in the market and make more informed decisions.

RFI is used when an organization wants to collect information from potential vendors to understand the market better and determine which vendors may be suitable to partner with. As it is the first step in the procurement process, it does not require vendors to submit a formal proposal.

An illustration of RFI

Role of RFI in procurement

RFI’s role is to provide the organization with valuable information about the supplier's abilities and the services they offer. This information can be used to pinpoint the right vendors.

Usually, this document is used when more information is needed before deciding whether or not to move forward with a project, contract, or other agreement. The document should include a list of questions related to the project, the timeline, delivery requirements, and other information.

Additionally, the RFI should include a deadline for vendors to respond so that the company can make an informed decision promptly. It can also gather information about industry trends, new technologies, and market conditions.

An illustration of RFI process

Benefits of RFI

“A survey by the Institute of Supply Management found that 43% of organizations use RFIs to gather information on products or services.”

There are several benefits to using RFIs in procurement.

  • First, they can help an organization quickly and easily gather information about potential suppliers and their products or services. This can save time and effort in the procurement process.
  • Additionally, RFIs can help ensure that all suppliers are given an equal opportunity to provide information, promoting fair competition.
  • Furthermore, RFIs can help organizations identify new suppliers and stay up-to-date on industry trends and new technologies.

Example of RFI in SaaS buying

RFI in SaaS procurement would be a company looking for a new customer relationship management (CRM) system.

They may issue RFIs to multiple vendors, asking for information about their CRM software, including features, pricing, and implementation timelines.

The RFI is not intended to result in the purchase of a product but rather to gather information and determine which software options are available and suitable for the company's needs.

What is a Request for Proposal (RFP)?

RFP is a powerful tool for organizations to use when purchasing goods or services." It allows them to get detailed proposals from different vendors and compare them to find the best fit for their organization.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a document used to gather proposals from potential vendors to determine the feasibility of a project or acquisition. It is used in the procurement process and outlines the specific needs of the organization issuing the RFP.

An illustration of RFP

Role of RFP

RFPs' role in procurement is to provide a structured process for identifying and evaluating potential suppliers or vendors. It allows organizations to communicate their needs and receive detailed responses from potential suppliers to make informed decisions about which vendors to choose.

The RFP should also include a section for vendors to provide their qualifications and experience related to the project or contract. This will help the organization determine which vendor best suits the requirements.

Additionally, the RFP should include a section for vendors and suppliers to provide their pricing and payment terms. This will help the organization compare the bids and select the most cost-effective option.

An illustration of RFP process

Benefits of RFP

On average, companies source 33% of their sales revenue through deals involving RFPs.

The benefits of RFPs include

  • RFPs allow organizations to communicate their needs and requirements to potential suppliers.
  • It provides a structured process for evaluating potential suppliers.
  • RFPs assist businesses in shortlisting suitable vendors to partner with.
  • It allows organizations to identify potential cost savings and other benefits.
  • It can also increase competition among suppliers, leading to better prices and services.

Example of RFP in SaaS buying

An example of RFP in the SaaS industry would be a company looking for new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. They may issue RFP to multiple vendors, asking for detailed information about their software, including features, pricing, and implementation timelines.

The RFP also includes a section for vendors to provide detailed information about their company and their qualifications to provide the software. The RFP process is more formal than the RFI and RFQ, and it's used to make a final decision on the vendor selection and the software's purchase.

What is a Request for Quotation (RFQ)?

The RFQ process is a great way to ensure that an organization gets the best value for its money. It allows organizations to compare prices from multiple vendors and select the one that offers the best deal.

A Request for Quotation (RFQ) is a document used in procurement to receive bids from suppliers for products or applications. It typically includes details about the requested products, the amount needed, and the onboarding time.

RFQs are often used when the buyer clearly knows what they need but wants to compare prices and terms from multiple suppliers.

An illustration of RFQ

Role of RFQ

RFQ's role in procurement is to establish a competitive process for suppliers to bid on a specific project or purchase order. It allows the buyer to compare the proposals and pricing from multiple suppliers and select the one that best meets their needs and budget.

RFQs are commonly used in the procurement of goods and services, especially in the construction, manufacturing, and engineering industries. But in the recent time, an abundance of RFQs can be seen across SaaS buying processes as the procurement teams are reluctant to proceed with the purchase unless the vendors are transparent in their quotes.

The document should include a detailed description of the requested products, the quantity needed, and other pertinent information. It should also include a timeline and any specific requirements.

An illustration of RFQ process

Benefits of RFQ

According to a survey by the e-Sourcing Forum, 63% of organizations use RFQs as a way to gather information on pricing and availability.

  • Establishing a competitive process for suppliers to bid on a specific project or purchase order
  • Allowing the buyer to compare proposals and pricing from multiple suppliers
  • Helping to ensure that the buyer gets the best value for their money
  • Facilitating the selection of the best supplier for a particular project or purchase order.

Example of RFQ in SaaS buying

An example of RFQ would be a company looking to purchase a new human resources management system. They may issue RFQ to multiple vendors, asking for specific details such as cost, implementation timeline, and references to the software.

The RFQ is used to determine the pricing and terms of the software and to compare the prices and terms of the different vendors.


There you go, the three musketeers of procurement, RFI, RFP, and RFQ. A procurement process will be incomplete without these. Now you know the definition and chronological order of RFI, RFP, and RFQ.

Having a clear understanding of these documents is essential, which is why we created this article and talked about the roles they play in the procurement process and their benefits.

These official documents make the difference between a transparent procurement process and a regrettable one. Never make the mistake of overlooking them, when done the right way, you can secure the best vendor and build a long-lasting relationship with them.

Frequently asked questions

1. Is RFI legally binding?

It varies from business to business. RFI is an official document sent to the vendors to obtain information relevant to their business and about the product. It is not a legally binding document as far as SaaS procurement is concerned.

2. Is RFP legally binding?

Yes, a Request for proposal is legally binding for a certain period of time until the buyer accepts the proposal and proceeds with the purchase. The buyer uses the time to compare and verify multiple RFPs before accepting a proposal.

Written by
Kevin Lee
SDR, CloudEagle
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