Request for Information

Request for Information (RFI)

Request for Information Do's & Don'ts
Top purchasing professionals use a Request for Information (RFI) as a way of investigating the market for new suppliers for a given item or service before they embark on a formal sourcing project. It is particularly useful where the item or service has not been sourced for some time, where the need has changed, or where the current supplier is entrenched. Find out more about the suppliers out there who can compete.

DO

  1. Start with assembling a long list of potential suppliers from research you have done on the internet, trade journals, trade associations, affiliates and customers
  2. Open up to all potential suppliers on a global basis. You will get ideas about what is possible, not possible and what would be difficult to manage.
  3. Articulate your purpose, scope and proposed timeframe clearly in a much detail as possible. Surprisingly, suppliers will provide you with guidance and advice on how to move towards your objective.
  4. Explain all abbreviations and internal jargon in the Request for Information as these potential suppliers may not be familiar with your choice of language.
  5. Provide a simple, unstructured template for suppliers to complete. Make sure it is easy to complete and allows for free-form additional input. Always include a contact person and email and phone numbers for questions.

DON'T

  1. Don't exclude any potential suppliers from your Request for Information based on prior reputation, location, or size of organization and do include the suppliers of your competitors.
  2. Don't commit to timing on the sourcing strategy for this commodity. The respondents will expect to be told the next step, only some of them will be shortlisted to receive a Request for Proposal.
  3. Do not ask for information that is not relevant to the project or that is "just nice to have". Suppliers can choose not to respond if your Request for Information is too long and tedious.
  4. Do not ask for pricing or force their responses into tables or graphs. This is not a request for quotation, it is an information gathering exercise.
  5. Don't make grammatical errors in the documents or leave out vital information such as what to send it in, where to, and by when. Poor administrative instructions cause suppliers to decline to submit.

Why use a Request for Information at all?

It allows you to compile detail about potential suppliers and their capabilities and show that are acting fairly and including all participants. Using an RFI ensures that the next step in the process is based on fact, not fiction.

Next week's tip focuses on Outsourcing transactional procurement. More organizations are focusing on strategic procurement and outsourcing the day-to-day activities. Follow our tips on how to achieve this successfully.