In project procurement management, communication with the bidder is performed through documents like an RFI, RFP, and RFQ.  

Today’s article will discuss Request for Information (RFI) vs Request for Proposal (RFP).

Let’s get started.


We will start with a review of RFI and then discuss the RFP.

RFI (Request for Information)

An RFI is a communication document that requests information from suppliers about the goods or services to be procured. This may lead to a request for proposal or a request for quotation. 

Put simply, an RFI is a bid document used to gather more information from the marketplace before issuing an RFQ or RFP. It helps collect data to develop procurement plans. 

For example, suppose an organization lacks the particulars about a consumable or commodity to be used in their construction projects. In that case, they will issue an RFI and get prospective sellers to submit their responses. This will help the organization plan their budget and get approval.

A seller may also require information about the market, products, delivery strategy, or other details. They can raise an RFI to address this.

An RFI is a non-binding document, submitting a response does not guarantee that the vendor will get the contract or receive any preferential treatment.

Example of RFI

rfi example 1

Guideline for Writing an RFI

  • Maintain a professional tone
  • Be specific
  • Provide sufficient context of the situation or ask questions for clarity
  • Include images, video, or documents as necessary
  • Use a consistent format type and page numbering
  • Suggest a solution or possible explanation for the question
  • Give adequate time for responses

The purpose of an RFI is information gathering. Hence, the organization issuing the RFI should provide the best available information. 

Through an RFI, the seller may need the following information:

  • Trends of the supply market
  • Trends and factors driving change
  • Alternative pricing strategies
  • The product offerings by a supplier
  • And more

An RFI helps formalize this inquiry.

RFP (Request for Proposal)

An organization uses an RFP when they have a problem and are looking for a solution from contractors. Creativity and innovation are needed to get the award. 

The RFP is common with consultancy or services. Usually, an expression of interest is published in newspapers to call interested contractors or consultants for the service. 

The seller may decide to invite a selected list of bidders to submit their RFP response.

Content of RFP

  • Name and address of the procurement entity (PE) or the seller.
  • Preferred language of the proposal (English, Spanish, etc.).
  • The manner, place, and deadline for the submission of the proposal.
  • A statement to the effect that the PE reserves the right to reject any proposal.
  • Criteria and procedures for evaluating the qualifications of the consultants.
  • Qualifications of consultants with documentary evidence.
  • Nature of services including location and time when they are to be provided.
  • Preferred currency of the proposal (USD, Pound, Euro, etc.).
  • Statement on whether the price consists of logistics, insurance, duties, and tax.
  • The basis for selecting a successful proposal could be the lowest cost, greatest quality, or a combination of both.

An RFP can be included with any procurement contracts such as fixed price, cost reimbursable, or time & materials

In most cases, the award is given to the lowest price bidder if they fulfill the technical requirements specified in the RFP.

Similarities Between RFI and RFP

  • They are both bid documents.
  • They are outward correspondence-from seller to vendors.

Differences Between RFI and RFP

rfi and rfp comparision table

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQ-1: Can the RFI and RFP be used interchangeably?

No, the RFI is used for gathering simple commodity information. In contrast, the RFP is a bid document sent to the public for obtaining a detailed solution with pricing.

FAQ-2: Are the RFI and RFP contract documents?

No, both are bid documents. However, the RFP, when concluded, may result in a contract.

FAQ-3: What is the relevance of an RFI and RFP to a project manager?

They formalize written communication between the procurement manager and external parties such as vendors and contractors.

FAQ-4: Why is the RFP always so many pages, unlike the RFI?

When we use an RFP, we have a problem when the scope of work or solution is unclear, and we’re relying on submission from the contractors. Hence, we describe the situation and requirements to ensure contractors understand it. On the other hand, we are only seeking clarification for an RFI; therefore, it should be concise.


The RFI and RFP are procurement documents. They are different and serve different purposes. An RFI helps an organization get details on commodities while an RFP lets bidders submit detailed solutions to the organization’s problems.

This is where this post on RFI vs RFP ends.

Are you involved with creating an RFP or RFI? If so, please share your experience through the comments section.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Request_for_information
  2. https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/project-requirements-rfps-vendor-proposals-6673
  3. https://www.bpp.gov.ng/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Public-Procurement-Act-2007pdf.pdf
  4. PMBOK Guide, Project Management Institute, Seventh edition, pg. 74-75
  5. https://www.negotiations.com/articles/procurement-terms/
  6. https://constructioncoverage.com/glossary/request-for-information
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Request_for_proposal