Quite often we make the process of collecting RFI data to difficult and as a result turn them into more of an RFP. Don’t confuse the two as the prior is really just an initial stage in the process and with the right e-procurement solutions provider can be conducted very quickly.
According to Wikipedia and others a Request for Information (RFI) is a standard business process whose purpose is to collect written information about the capabilities of various suppliers. Normally it follows a format that can be used for comparative purposes.
A Request for Information (RFI) is primarily used to gather information to help companies make a decision on what steps to take next. RFI’s are therefore most often the first stage in the procurement process particularly with new sources of supply. They are used in combination with: Requests for Quote (RFQ), Requests for Tender (RFT), and Requests for Proposal (RFP). In addition to gathering basic information, an RFI is often used as a solicitation sent to a broad base of potential suppliers for the purpose of preparing a supplier’s thought process in preparing for a Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Tender (RFT) in the government sector, or a Request for Proposal (RFP).
Much of the data required for an RFI is generally available and can be found on company websites, U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings for publicly traded companies in their Edgar system, industry guides from companies like Trade Dimensions, or from sources like Dun and Bradstreet.
The challenge for most companies is that they do not have the necessary resources to complete this research. Therefore providers of supplier data should be able to make this data available in templates that companies can begin with. Simple data should always be available in any database as to Company Name, Annual Sales, Product category expertise, contact information, e-procurement experience and product specifications. This data should be easily exportable to a variety of formats such as MSFT Excel.
A simple request of your e-procurement supplier should get you well on your way to completed RFI’s that lead to quality RFP’s and RFQ’s without spending a lot of your valuable time on basic research. If they do not, we’d be glad to hear from you.
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