What Can Happen When the RFI is Overlooked…
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originally posted on 23-September-2009
Many projects have started off with much anticipation and high energies between vendor and client. Some clients end up rolling forward quite readily with their project while others — well they are trying to figure out how everything cooled off to the point where they feel like they are standing in the middle of a large empty room holding an empty bag full of questions. Earlier on, the client may have found themselves in a position where they just had more questions than answers and falsely anticipated that the vendor would help them fill in the blanks as they both moved forward to a completed contract. Meanwhile the vendor is looking at the proposal and sees many issues that should have already been addressed by the client or may have a feeling the client really doesn’t know what they want. The pace and time demands of a proposal necessitate that certain events occur in quick order — and the more questions that should been researched before the proposal was presented weighs the whole process down. Meanwhile, the vendor has other prospects that are ready to move on and they – much to your chagrin – get the attention and you are wondering why they appear they aren’t interested.
Utilizing the Request for Information before sending out a Request for Proposal helps fill in the gaps that the client may have. This will also get the project sponsors as well as the Discovery team focused on the needs their company have of a new system as well as assist in providing the details to the vision they should have for this new system. Both requests processes are extensive and time consuming but so isn’t anything that has such a vast scope to it. Some would argue the RFI is not necessary however when properly utlized, the RFI is just as necessary as the RFP.
The RFI — aka Request for Information — is precisely that, it lets the vendor know you are not quite in the market yet for a system but are seriously looking… At least if the RFI is filled out thoroughly and properly the client appears to be seriously looking. An improperly filled RFI will let the vendor know that some serious assistance and time spent together will be needed once it comes time to review the RFP.
The RFP — aka Request for Proposal — lets the vendor know the client is now in the market for a system and a serious pursuit is initiated. Clients that have filed a RFP without and RFI or an incomplete RFI will only frustrate the vendor as steps that should have already been covered and clarified aren’t. For a look as to how a vendor or supplier takes towards RFI’s and RFP’s, a bulletin is available on the pros’ and cons’ of RFI and RFP’s as well as why they are necessary tools that need to be used together. CGS offers assistance and guidelines in processing both your RFI as well as your RFP. As we have experience as well as working knowledge of several HRIS and HRMS systems, we can provide valuable insight and guidance in getting your requests completed professionally.
Request for Information (RFI) – As the name suggests, RFI’s gather information to help decide what step to take next. RFI’s are therefore seldom the final stage, but instead are often used in conjunction with the other 3 requests detailed in this article. An RFI is a solicitation sent to a broad base of potential suppliers for the purpose of conditioning, gathering information, preparing for an RFP, developing strategy, or building a database about:
- The suppliers, including: facilities, finances, attitudes, and motivations
- The state of the supply market
- Supply market dynamics
- Trends and factors driving change
- Alternative pricing strategies
- Supplier competition
- Breadth and width of product/service offerings, by supplier
Supplier strategic focus, business, and product plans
RFIs may include a detailed list of products/services for which pricing is requested. The pricing should be used for comparative purposes, not as the basis of buying decisions. Through analysis of RFI responses, strategic options, lower cost alternatives, and cost reduction opportunities may be identified.
Request for Proposal (RFP)is a solicitation sent to potential suppliers with whom a creative relationship or partnership is being considered. Typically, the RFP leaves all or part of the precise structure and format of the response to the discretion of the suppliers. The creativity and innovation that suppliers choose to build into their proposals may be used to distinguish one from another. Effective RFPs typically reflect the strategy and short/long-term business objectives, providing detailed insight upon which suppliers will be able to offer a perspective. If there are specific problems to be addressed in the RFP response, those are described along with whatever root cause assessment is available. While specific data, offerings and quotations may be sought, questions about the following will make up a significant portion of both an RFT an RFP:
- The specific items on which the suppliers are proposing
- Business requirements / Performance measures
- Information / Ideas / Due Date
- Instructions on how to reply
- How will we evaluate how feedback will work
- Describe the process for selection / Request for cost breakdown (sometimes) Communication: cover letter (sets the stage), calls in advance
- Who to contact with questions / Addressee – chosen carefully
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