Establishing Requirements Using a Request for Proposal (RFP) and a Request for Information (RFI)
Once decisions have been made for build vs. buy and appropriate specifications have been completed, organizations need to create a document that can be examined by third-party vendors or product suppliers so that an estimate of “fit” can be assessed—fit meaning the amount of customization required or development time necessary. Two such documents can be used: a Request for Information (RFI) or a Request for Proposal (RFP).
This chapter seeks to define the similarities and differences between the two types of documents and when one type might be preferred over the other. In either situation, the main focus of the documents is to provide potential vendors or developers with enough information so that they can determine the scope of the effort and the associated costs for providing a solution. The documents also provide the selection group to be able to compare bids because the requirements are consistent—that is, the document itself requires a standard format of response thus allowing each solution to be compared, as they say—apples-to-apples. The RFI and RFP are even more important given the rapid change in new and emerging products and services. In addition, the rapid movements of products that need to operate on multiple platforms such as mobile devices are establishing new requirements that cannot be solved internally. Thus, the ability to assess what vendors can provide is now a requirement in the cycle of ascertaining replacement systems.