Construction Term(s) of the Month: RFI, RFQ, & RFP – What is the difference?
There are more than 3 types of RFx (“Request For”) in the procurement and construction world, but today with focus on RFI (Request For Information), RFQ (Request For Qualifications), and RFP (Request For Proposals). Each one is designed to delve into the capabilities of potential vendors. However, the primary difference between the three is the expected outcome at the culmination of the process.
A Request for Information (RFI) is the least formal of the three and the smallest commitment for the requestor. RFIs are used when requestors think they know what they want but need more information from vendors. RFIs are designed to collect information from a vendor with no commitment to engage in any particular project and it is likely that minimal or no project details would be provided. Instead the document would focus on the vendor capabilities, skills and experience. It will typically be followed by an RFQ or RFP. RFIs require the least amount of work and specifics from a requestor, but since there is no implied commitment that work is imminent, vendors may be apprehensive investing time to provide a response and data.
A Request for Quote (RFQ) is commonly used when a requestor knows what they want but need information on how vendors would meet the requirements and/or how much it will cost. RFQs still do not engage vendors on specifics around completing a particular project. These are less common in project work and RFQs are more likely when the primary terms of the deal are financial or other elements of performance are not significant.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) is the most formal and intensive of the three for both the requestor and the vendor. RFPs have strict procurement rules for content, timeline and vendor responses and are used when the request has a specific project or problem. The requestor specifies a scope of work that needs to be performed (the RFP) and solicits in response a Proposal from the vendor describing how they would go about executing the project – including pricing information.
RFPs position the requestor as a potential client to move to a contract in the next step. However, because the RFP requires enough detail to specify a project (including some level of requirements and scope definition), it takes more work to write. Creating an RFP for a project where the scope is uncertain may result in unpredictable proposals from the vendors that bear little to no resemblance to the actual project you need to run.