A request for information template, also known as a request for information (RFI), is an important document describing the type of business you are trying to develop or the service you are currently providing. This helps explain what you want from a vendor, supplier, or agency.
It’s common for businesses to request this type of information about a service or product before making a deal. You can use a template to define or improve your scope of work when requesting an RFP.
What is RFI (request for information)?
Your business needs to collect and process information from them in your processes with suppliers. RFI is the process of collecting written information from various suppliers (mainly potential suppliers). It includes a format that helps with actions such as comparing suppliers. Information is collected to assist in making decisions about what steps to take.
Unlike RFPs and RFTs, RFIs are preferred for conditioning suppliers, developing strategies, and building a database. RFIs also define the requirements and expectations of organizations. It asks for specific answers on how the seller will meet them. RFP or RFT is usually used before an RFI request.
In RFIs, price leveling, the buyers can ask more detailed information about the product/seller. RFI, which is generally preferred in international markets, is one of the factors affecting the decision mechanism about whether to buy the product or not. Providing this information by suppliers and giving serious responses to buyers can constitute the beginning of long-term commercial relations. Subjects such as references or customer satisfaction are also important for suppliers in this regard.
To summarize, RFI involves gathering information about available ERP options. It allows you to narrow down potential suppliers in line with the needs of your business. It will appear as a purchase form. It is used with RFP. RFPs, on the other hand, are more goal-oriented.
The use of RFI can be found in the construction industry. RFI is used in case of a lack of information required to continue any work in the documents related to the construction of a project. RFI is used to address concerns about neglect or misuse of a product. RFI management is a common practice in the early 21st century. Many companies have created and used these claims through spreadsheets. RFIs have helped businesses reduce costs, save time, deliver more error-free projects, and improve quality.
When you send RFIs to your suppliers, you generally know what you want. But you will have to understand that this is still not enough. You may need different perspectives and new ideas. RFIs provide this for you. Open-ended questions help you capture different perspectives. You can get examples and detailed information such as additional meetings, demos, and pilot applications with the information you get. You can refer to more specific methods to decide. You can also support your RFP processes with this information.
Why is RFI Important?
Information Request Form; They are documents that are used to research, compare, and condition suppliers, even develop a strategy and create a pool for later use in the procurement process—aids in decision making and transitioning to an effective RFP phase. In fact, it is a step that not only businesses but individuals often take without realizing it, even when they want to buy any goods or services. If the preparation is not sufficient and robust, the person or the business may have to bear more costs.
Request for Information (RFI) Purpose and Progress
When you submit an RFI, you may generally know what you want and need from the ERP supplier, but you are still open to new ideas and different perspectives. Therefore, you can keep your questions in RFI more open-ended.
An effective RFI gives you an overview of the ERP vendor environment, allowing you to see what is available in terms of technology and support. You can use the information you get from RFI to decide which suppliers you would like to get to know in more detail through additional meetings, demos, on-site visits, or pilot application examples. The main objectives of RFI are:
Discover Cultural Relevance
As with all business relationships, “cultural fit” is a critical factor to consider. You want to explore ways of working and collaborative approaches to see if there is a good fit between your own business and the potential ERP supplier. For example, many abas customers worldwide say they love working with us because we are not too corporate and too big, but rather a software where you can always find something for yourself, and we have responsive employees who can build good relationships with us our customers. These distinguishing factors are as important as partnerships between an ERP supplier and a manufacturing/distribution business.
Explore Functional Requirements
This will be the most important and most detailed part of the RFI. Here, you will explain your ERP project’s objectives and system requirements to the suppliers.
For example, maybe you want to start selling your products online in a webshop, or plan M&A activities that will require you to integrate different companies into your ERP, or maybe you want to improve your quality management processes in manufacturing and distribution. Perhaps you will move to the cloud and mobile computing.
Whatever your plans, RFI is one way you can evaluate which ERP systems can meet your needs.
Ask Rational Questions
Ask RFI questions focused on your strategic goals. Here are some examples:
- What is the approximate ERP implementation time for a company of our scale?
- What kind of experience do you have with the businesses in our sector or our production type?
- How do you track and manage the progress of the project, the completion, and the financial aspect of the project?
- What is the experience of your support team?
- What makes you different from other ERP suppliers in the market?
The responses you get for RFI not only allow you to gauge the expertise of each supplier but also help prepare you for the next steps in the process.
RFQ vs. RFP vs. RFI: What’s the difference?
RFIs are request forms that enable businesses to obtain more detailed information from suppliers and are mostly used in decision-making. They are not goal-oriented and contain a data collection that enables adequate information to be obtained in supplier selection and to turn it into an advantage. RFPs are considered genuine requests for proposals. They help to get effective results when used with RFIs. RFTs are forms that describe what the buyer wants and how he wants it. Many things are included in these forms, such as the draft contract, including details on preparing the proposal. It involves complex arrangements, such as how the proposal will be evaluated. RFIs make your RFP preparations easy.
RFQs, on the other hand, can respond as a price request. With these forms, the purchasing officer only requests price information from the suppliers. Suppliers should respond to this request with details such as price, payment terms, and delivery time.
By combining all these processes in a single software, you can provide many conveniences for your business. Purchasing and supply systems, where you can easily manage your purchasing requests, help to eliminate risks and reduce costs. Employees can easily make transactions with a few clicks. As the workload of the employee’s decreases, the time allocated to strategic activities will increase. It will save time as well as save money.
How to write an RFI
Request for Information (RFI) templates are commonly used when a business wants to send a survey or questionnaire to multiple potential suppliers. While there is no industry standard for RFI templates, it’s important that a document address certain pieces of information, particularly related to budget and requirements. When using an RFI template, be sure to change any of the details within the form before sending it to potential business partners. This allows you to standardize how you request information from your vendors without the risk of making any mistakes when filling in their questionnaires.
Open-ended, comprehensive questions are asked to candidate suppliers, and they are expected to give answers within the required time, depending on the situation of need.
The candidate supplier can approve the preparation made or submit any counter-opinion, questions and suggestions, if any.
So the priority is to understand suppliers’ perspectives, not judge their skills and competencies. It should be noted that only the intent and scope are stated at this stage, and no purchase promises are made. On the other hand, These questions, comments, and suggestions provide valuable clues to the purchasing professional about the supplier’s expertise and thinking and can also quickly become educational.
Its purpose is to condition, gain knowledge, prepare for an RFP or RFQ, formulate a strategy, or build a database. Such data to be provided is useful later in negotiations with the supplier:
- Supplier facilities, finance, attitudes, and motivations
- State of the supply market
- Supply market dynamics
- Trends and factors causing change
- Alternative pricing strategies
- Supplier competition
- The breadth of products/services that the supplier can offer
- Supplier strategic focus, business, and product plans
The questions in the form should be rational and target-oriented, as strategic options and scenario alternatives in which costs can be reduced will gradually become evident thanks to the analysis of the responses to a properly prepared RFI form. The responses you get for RFI not only allow you to gauge the expertise of each supplier but also help prepare you for the next steps in the process.