Project Management

What Project Managers Should Know about RFIs and RFQs

Jargon abounds in business and in the legal realm. People can especially be confused with acronyms like requests for information (RFI) and requests for quotes (RFQ). Knowing the difference and how to best implement each will help craft a good sourcing strategy for project managers. In an article for TechRepublic, Moira Alexander provides a “cheat sheet” to make crafting and responding to RFIs and RFQs much simpler:

  • RFI: fact-finding document to seek more information from vendors. An RFI will state the business goals and challenges that you’re having, and then the vendor can tailor its response to fit the goals and the context of these challenges.
  • RFQ: detailed document that is usually based on price in order to draw exact specifications or expectations required by the company. Companies usually send RFQs to vendors to determine which of them will most likely meet project goals and budget.

Don’t Play It Safe

When it comes to RFIs, companies should be descriptive and transparent in communicating their goals, their current challenges, and their expectations from vendors. Too often, the company requesting information often doesn’t create detailed enough descriptions of what they are looking for. Because of that, the responding vendors make too many assumptions. In order to avoid this, the initiating firm should schedule meetings with different vendors to review the request and reveal details so that specifications and requirements are clearly understood and interpreted.

For vendors, responding to RFIs is not purely “getting the business done,” but it’s more about getting it done right. Grammar, spelling, and written mistakes matter when companies review the response. Plus, vendors should always address the root problems and propose their solutions. Playing it too safe will not help create a unique impact on a company. In cases where the company will not be satisfied with what the vendor has to offer, then that is the deal breaker for the vendor. Alexander says that the less obvious deal breakers are these:

  • The inability for the two sides to work together
  • Schedules that do not meet expectations
  • The company expecting the vendor to bear all of the risks

The RFQ is yet an even more detailed document that drills down to the exact requirements of the company. The company knows enough about its current system and how it wants to change or improve it in the future, so it attempts to make vendors meet certain specifications. Unlike the RFP, which allows for more flexibility in which the vendor can suggest creative solutions to the problem, an RFQ isn’t looking for creativity. It’s looking for predetermined specifications to be met. Vendors sometimes don’t even get considered for an RFQ if they have not met requirements cited by the company. Other vendor mistakes can include missing deadlines, overly high prices, or lacking compliance with rules.

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