eSourcing – Request for Information (RFI): Definition

Request for Information (RFI)

An RFI (Request for Information) is a type of eSourcing event and a formal business process used to collect written information regarding suppliers capabilities.

It is usually used at the planning stage of a procurement activity, as the first step in the vendor selection process, and a qualification step prior to the RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFQ (Request for Quotation). It’s quite common for an RFI to also include elements of an RFQ.

The RFI comprises a number of clearly defined sections, with related questions the supplier is required to answer and submit to the buying organization. Sections often contain a mix of mandatory and non-mandatory questions with options for suppliers to attach relevant files where applicable. After suppliers have submitted their response, the buyer will evaluate them, selecting one of a number of comparison reports available. These reports are delivered along with supplier attachments linked to the individual supplier response to each question.

Information gathered can be quite general (vendor financial status, distribution network, item or service categories, quality controls, technical capabilities, …) or more specific (payment means, DUNS #, contact information, language, …). RFI’s are used for Direct and Indirect spend categories and services and some of the information gathered can be used as part of the supplier setup in the company Purchase-to-Pay system.


The process for performing an RFI event is as follow:

  • Buyer creates a series of questions for Suppliers to fill out
  • Supplier responds to the questions
  • Buyer uses responses to compare, score and qualify suppliers for further rounds or allocation of business and to store information in a central repository

There may be times when it is necessary to have multiple rounds to qualify suppliers.


An RFI is typically used to:

  • Gather information about , a supplier, category/product or service
  • Customise questions to obtain information relevant only to your project/task
  • Qualify suppliers to a shorter list that will be invited to a subsequent RFP or RFQ round


Please note that an RFI will potentially be the first interaction between your company and some of the suppliers as part of the eSourcing process. So it is better, instead of just sending an email inviting the suppliers, to call them to introduce yourself, your company and what you are trying to achieve through the upcoming RFI event. 

Article Name
eSourcing - Request for Information (RFI): Definition
Definition and description of the eSourcing event RFI or Request for information.

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