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Source: Wikipedia

Request for Proposal

A request for proposal (referred to as RFP) is an invitation for suppliers, often through a bidding process, to submit a proposal on a specific commodity or service. A bidding process is one of the best methods for leveraging a company's negotiating ability and purchasing power with suppliers. The RFP process brings structure to the procurement decision and allows the risks and benefits to be identified clearly upfront.[1] The RFP purchase process is lengthier than others, so it is used only where its many advantages outweigh any disadvantages and delays caused. The added benefit of input from a broad spectrum of functional experts ensures that the solution chosen will suit the company's requirements.

The RFP may dictate to varying degrees the exact structure and format of the supplier's response. The creativity and innovation that suppliers choose to build into their proposals may be used to judge supplier proposals against each other, at the risk of failing to capture consistent information between bidders and thus hampering the decision making process. Effective RFPs typically reflect the strategy and short/long-term business objectives, providing detailed insight upon which suppliers will be able to offer a matching perspective.[2]

Similar requests include a request for quotation and a request for information.

Key objectives
Obtain correct information to enable sound business decisions.
Decide correctly on strategic procurement.
Leverage the company's purchasing power to obtain a favorable deal.
Enable a broader and creative range of solutions to be considered.
Key benefits

Informs suppliers that your company is looking to procure and encourages them to make their best effort.
Requires the company to specify what it proposes to purchase. If the requirements analysis has been prepared properly, it can be incorporated quite easily into the Request document.
Alerts suppliers that the selection process is competitive.
Allows for wide distribution and response.
Ensures that suppliers respond factually to the identified requirements.
By following a structured evaluation and selection procedure an organisation can demonstrate impartiality - a crucial factor in public sector procurement.

Other requests

A request for quotation (RFQ) is used when discussions with bidders are not required (mainly when the specifications of a product or service are already known) and when price is the main or only factor in selecting the successful bidder. An RFQ may also be used as a step prior to going to a full-blown RFP to determine general price ranges. In this scenario, products, services or suppliers may be selected from the RFQ results to bring in to further research in order to write a more fully fleshed out RFP.

RFP is sometimes used for a request for pricing.

A request for information (RFI) is a proposal requested from a potential seller or a service provider to determine what products and services are potentially available in the marketplace to meet a buyer's needs and to know the capability of a seller in terms of offerings and strengths of the seller. RFIs are commonly used on major procurements, where a requirement could potentially be met through several alternate means. An RFI, however, is not an invitation to bid, is not binding on either the buyer or sellers, and may or may not lead to an RFP or RFQ.

A request for qualifications (RFQ) is a document often distributed before initiation of the RFP process. It is used to gather vendor information from multiple companies to generate a pool of prospects. This eases the RFP review process by preemptively short-listing candidates which meet the desired qualifications.

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