A request for information (RFI) is a document used to gather information from vendors or suppliers in order to create a shortlist of potential suppliers for a project. The purpose of an RFI is to collect information and compare businesses that are offering products or services that you require to complete a project. You typically collect this type of data for comparison as an initial step, to be followed by a request for proposal (RFP) to gather bids and move toward a formal contract. Note, however, that you can also direct an RFI at a single party; for example, a construction contractor may only need to request information from one specific client or vendor before moving forward with a work contract.
Below you will find a collection of free templates, including an RFI response template, a log for tracking RFIs, and a simple request for information template. Word and Excel options are available to download and print. All of the templates are easy to use, save you time and effort, and offer a professional appearance and customizable formatting.
Why Use a Request for Information?
Sending out an RFI provides clear communication with suppliers by defining your requirements, the scope and purpose of the RFI, and how respondents should reply to the RFI. The document may include specific questions that suppliers need to answer as well as information for them about your organization, the procurement process, and project needs. The goal of an RFI is to collect information in order to inform the next step of your decision process. If the objective of the RFI is to create a shortlist of potential suppliers, having detailed written information from each potential vendor can accelerate this process and help narrow your choices so that you can efficiently choose appropriate suppliers. An RFI also provides a standardized process for collecting information, which shows suppliers that you are acting both fairly and competitively as you compare participants.
What Are the Differences Among a Request for Information, a Request for Proposal, and a Request for Quotation?
RFIs are used to collect summarized information, not detailed bids or work proposals. This distinguishes an RFI from an request for proposal (RFP), which is a formal, comprehensive request for a proposal (usually with the intension of purchasing goods or services). A request for information typically precedes a RFP, which provides details about the scope of the project being undertaken, the timeline and budget, and the requirements that a vendor needs to meet. Proposal submissions will be equally comprehensive so that you can adequately compare and select a supplier.
Similar to an RFP, a request for quotation (RFQ) solicits price quotes for specific products or services. Use this document to compare vendors based primarily on pricing differences. You may send an RFQ prior to or as part of an RFP, or it may go out after you have collected proposals if you need a more detailed pricing bid from shortlisted suppliers.
What to Include in a Request for Information
The information included in an RFI will depend on its intent. If you’re using an RFI to shortlist vendors for a project, it will typically include an introduction that explains the purpose of the RFI, a description of the process that you will follow for reviewing responses and distributing RFPs, rules for how suppliers should respond to the RFI, and the requirements that suppliers need to meet. You should provide details for whatever data you’re seeking from suppliers, such as pricing, delivery methods, products, and other business information. An RFI may also include a request for acknowledgement from the supplier that they have received the document. It is also important to include a confidentiality clause for suppliers to agree to or otherwise address in their responses. Of course, RFI templates are preformatted to save you time and help standardize your process, but you can easily edit them to serve your specific needs.
Construction Request for Information Template - Excel
Contractors and subcontractors use RFIs to get clarification on an issue before proceeding with work. A request for information may serve the same function as a change order if the scope of work needs to be modified. This is the case unless you need a more formal change request for approval. On this template, contractors can specify a drawing number for reference and indicate possible changes in cost or schedule. This template includes a section at the top for listing the project name, location, and other details.
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Request for Information Log - Excel
It’s not unusual for multiple RFIs to be sent during the course of a construction project, as questions about plans and specifications arise. This RFI log template can help keep the requests organized and track their progress. You can identify the priority and current status for each item on the log, who initiated the request, who is responsible for addressing the RFI, and deadlines.
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Request for Information Response Template
This RFI response template provides preformatted sections for participants to fill out, but you can modify the included fields to match your particular requirements. Providing vendors with detailed questions to answer makes it easy for them to respond and helps ensure that you get a comprehensive picture of what they have to offer. Questions may relate to the scope of work, a vendor’s ability to meet certain requirements, cost estimates, and more.
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Government Contractor Construction Request for Information - Excel
This construction request for information template is designed specifically for government contractors. It includes sections for contract details, recommendations from the contractor, a response from a government entity, and attachments. This is a simple RFI template that you can easily modify for any construction project.
Creative Agency Request for Information Template
If you’re looking for marketing or advertising agencies (for a specific project or as potential partners for future projects), this RFI template outlines a simple yet thorough request. Collect information on agency background and success stories, team members, previous clientele, potential conflicts of interest, and any other relevant information. Use the template to create a shortlist of agencies to engage in an RFP process.
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Request for Information Response Comparison Template - Excel
Use this spreadsheet template to support the RFI comparison process. By placing vendor responses side-by-side, you can quickly see how they compare based on pricing and your essential requirements. After evaluating the results of this comparison, you can note on the template which vendors should be shortlisted and which do not match your needs.
Request for Information with Cover Letter Template - Word
Including a cover letter with your RFI allows you to briefly and clearly state the purpose of the RFI and the closing date for responses. While not required, a request for information letter template adds a professional tone, especially when printed on company letterhead. In addition to a cover letter, this template provides an outline for you to follow as you add the details of your RFI, from the opportunity being presented to instructions on how to submit a response.
Simple Request for Information Template - Word
This RFI template offers a simple layout and is best suited to construction projects. You can include an RFI number at the top of the template for tracking, indicate references for drawings and specifications, and note any included attachments. You can easily print or share the template via email.
Collaborate With Vendors in Real Time with Smartsheet
Issuing RFIs is intended to make the bidding process more efficient, not more time consuming. However, if you’re sending out RFIs to a large pool of potential vendors or suppliers, it can be difficult to manage paperwork and ensure you receive responses in a timely manner. That’s why it’s helpful to create an RFI with a software tool that updates in real time, so both client and vendors can move through the process quickly.
Smartsheet is a work management and automation platform that helps companies around the globe work better. In Smartsheet, you can use one of the pre-built templates to create a simple, professional RFI and customize it to fit the needs of your organization or project.
Attach relevant documentation to rows in your sheet to provide additional project information, and add comments to clarify specific points. Then, share your RFI with the potential vendor so they can respond quickly and directly, without having to download, manually update, and re-send the document. Adjust editing and sharing permissions to protect confidential information, and track cell history to see changes. As a cloud-based app, you can access Smartsheet from any device, anytime, anywhere, so you’ll never miss an update.
Get started with Smartsheet and begin issuing RFIs instantly.