May 12, 2020

Effective RFI Template - Why you need one and what to include

Request for Information (RFI) 

A Request for Information (RFI) is a standard business process that will enable you to gather written data in relation to the expertise and capabilities of various suppliers so that you can make an informed decision when making your purchase orders. The primary objective of the RFI is to lay the groundwork from which the customer can then proceed to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a Request for Quotation (RFQ).


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RFI Template

RFI Template

Without an RFI template, you may find your strategy is reduced to scanning and browsing multiple websites, a pointless and time-consuming exercise. Generally speaking, most consumers don’t require all of the information listed on a company’s website and sifting through what is relevant and what is not consumes time and energy. Time is money, and a reduction of time in one area usually results in a reduction of expenditure as your staff can utilize this time to a more productive end.

Conversely, by providing a watertight RFI template, the potential supplier can fill in the details and provide you with the specific information you have requested. This, in turn, enables you to require information about your potential suppliers without having to tell them too much about your business or project. This is important not because you might be wanting to hide anything, but because it could result in you receiving information which is more objective from each potential supplier.

That being said, an RFI template allows you to provide clear guidelines on the information you are requesting. It enables you to seek clarifications if necessary and ascertain if the product or service they are offering does everything you need it to do.

Another key benefit of utilizing an RFI template is it provides you with an inherent ability to show your potential suppliers your key values and what you want to see in their products or services. This helps you align your business needs with those parties that share the same values very early on in the process and disregard those which are incompatible with you and your needs.

An RFI template will increase the level of transparency between you and the potential vendors at a very early stage of the transactional relationship. A Request for Information template further helps foster a competitive environment, especially if you share it on a public platform at the outset. Unsurprisingly, this is also useful for you when you do a comparative analysis of the competition, especially as all of your answers will be laid out in the same standard format of the template.

Must-Have RFI Template Features for Better Results

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Request for information template

In order to provide you with the most successful possible outcome, your RFI template should be a 3-5 page document in an established format. To assist you further, here are the key must-have features your RFI template will need:

Request specific and limited information

The more specific your RFI template is, the more likely you will receive the information you require very early on. It helps if you have a predetermined list of questions that you intend to ask through each RFI. If your questions are too general or too vague, you will likely find you receive equally irrelevant and redundant responses.  A vague and general template will also likely lengthen the process, as parties will be forced to communicate back and forth seeking clarification on each point.

By following a format, asking only one question at a time, and being specific, you can maximize the usefulness of the responses you receive. In that same light, your RFI template should not ask for too much. What you want to obtain is formal, structured, and comparable information in relation to your potential suppliers.

Examples of specific information you could request are the vendor’s abilities to perform a specific service, financial statements, details of the management, company structure, and other projects underway.

Provide context

Your RFI template should include a statement of need that layout your goals and objectives. It should also provide some background to your organization and what you do, which helps create some context for the supplier to know what they are involving themselves in. Your RFI template will ideally also lay out the skills and qualifications that you are seeking from the other side, which will very quickly weed out the competition to a great extent.

Be considerate

Your RFI template should not be overly time-consuming for your potential suppliers. You will need to bear in mind that in order to prepare an adequate response this will come at a cost to the supplier. The more demanding you create your RFI template the more costs you add to each of your potential vendors. They may even seek to recover those costs in one way or another if they are the successful party.

At the end of the day, one of the main goals of this exercise is to establish a business relationship with which you can proceed to a formal RFP or RFQ. If you are considerate from the outset you increase the likelihood that this respect will become mutual.

Timeframes and deadlines

Following on from the latter point, the response deadline should also reflect this desire to form a respectful business relationship and should not be too onerous. 
Most vendors would appreciate a one-week minimum in which to turn around a response, though ideally the vendor would be given at least two weeks.

RFI Template User Guide:

RFI often has a similar structure and its uniqueness of the format with the responses gives you a good grounding in crafting effective results. It covers:
  1. Overview:
    Brief background and introductory information about the company. After reading the information, the vendors or the respondents should understand who you are and what deliverables you require.
  2. Details of Requirements:
    You should detail the products/ services that you need with precise specifications such as costs, delivery timelines, personnel requirements, etc.
  3. Guidance:
    Include details as to how a recipient should respond and also include a deadline for response.
  4. Points of Clarification:
    Any additional and further details into the sections should be added.
  5. Submission of Requests
  6. Evaluation 

Why Use RFI?

  1. In the construction firm, RFI offers efficient communication with suppliers by defining your requirements such as materials, specifications, etc. It helps shortlist potential suppliers that give detailed information on the vendor and the estimated costs and choose suppliers wisely.
  2. Contractors use RFIs to get detailed understanding and clarification of the project proceedings.
  3. This template includes a section of the top to list the project details with name, location, and contractors specify drawing number and specify possible changes in cost or schedule. 
  4. RFI Template help keep requests organized and track progress as according to plans and specifications.
  5. RFIs are very useful in IT Sector because companies require tailored solutions for a long time as these solutions imply high investment so the selection is crucial. By placing Vendor Responses together you can easily compare based on cost requirements.
  6. RFIs are very valuable in saving time and money. They enable them to quickly evaluate dozens and hundreds of vendors, gain the best possible price, and form new win-win relationships.

Delivering Successful RFI Templates with Techno-PM

Techno-PM has been providing high-quality templates for all aspects of project management for six years.

To learn more about our RFI templates, and what we can do to assist you on your journey to project management success, visit our website and contact us today.



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