Requests for proposal, requests for quote and requests for information are three types of bid requests employed by purchasing side organizations when soliciting bids for significant business-to-business purchases of goods or services. RFPs are used to determine the feasibility of each potential supplier's bid. RFQs are used to compare costs between competing vendors. RFIs are used to learn about each supplier's capabilities.
An organization may use one, two or all three of these requests when sourcing a project. For example, if a government agency is buying 500 computers that all have the same operating system, it is likely to use an RFQ alone. Because the needed computers are a standardized product that many technology companies can deliver, RFIs and RFPs aren't needed. The buyer can assume that all the bidders are capable of providing the computers.
An RFP is likely to be used when there are multiple methods by which a project can be completed. An RFP is designed for the bidder to propose a specific solution. For example, a construction company bidding on a highway project presents the reasons that its approach is more efficient in an RFP.
RFIs are used by purchasing companies or organizations to learn about the capabilities of the bidders. For example, questions about the bidder's size and capacity are answered in an RFI to qualify the bidder as capable of completing a project.