The answer is that it depends on who you talk to. This author believes that an RFI should be used almost as often as an RFQ particularly if you have been using the same supplier for a number of years.
As we have discussed in a prior posts, a Request for Information or “RFI” is in its most simple form a document distributed to new sources of supply prior to inviting them to participate in a Request for Quote or RFQ. The process assists you in your decision as to whether or not you wish to invite new suppliers to participate.The document lets potential suppliers know the information you require in order for them to be considered for participation. This is also a great way to update the information for your incumbent suppliers. This is particularly important in light of our recent economic woes.
Some of the information contained in an RFI can include but certainly is not limited to the following.
1. General education relative to your procurement process.
2. Certification requirements such as safety or environmental.
3. Rules of engagement
4. Supplier general information.
5. Sourcing tree information.
6. Country of Origin Information.
7. Near Shore or Off Shore Practices
8. Financial Information
A Request for Information is a great tool that when used properly enables retailers to evaluate potential new sources of supply while also holding their incumbent suppliers accountable to the same standards they would of new suppliers. Although most often used in complex sourcing events, RFI’s are very helpful in almost all e-negotiation events.