RFI, RFP, RFQ: Understanding the Differences


Share this Article:

Our content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click links to our partners. Learn more in our Editorial & Advertising Policy.

When completing projects and optimizing your business, there will come a time when you need to rely on outside contractors and suppliers for support. There are three main types of request documents: request for information (RFI), request for quotation (RFQ), and request for proposal (RFP). But what are each of these documents and when should they be used? Read on to learn more about each type as we compare RFIs vs RFQs and RFPs.

Read more: What is Project Management?

Featured Partners

Defining RFI, RFQ, and RFP


A request for information, or RFI, is a document that an organization will request when gathering information about outside vendors in order to understand how they could fit into potential business opportunities. This research-based document is requested at the earliest stage of bidding and tendering, long before any type of work offer is extended. Simply put, the RFI provides a baseline of information to an organization so they can decide how outside contractors and service providers can fit into business needs.

This request includes various components, such as background about your business, highlights about your wins, and areas of expertise and services or products you provide.


A request for proposal, or RFP, is the most detailed out of the three request types. This document is extremely personalized based on the needs of the inquiring organization and the capabilities and offerings of the responding organization. An RFP is frequently used when an organization is looking to hire a specific type of vendor to fill a predetermined business need, meaning they are comparing each individual vendor against each other to find the best match.

This request includes various components, such as project details, a company introduction, an outline of projected outcomes, costs, a timeline, and more. 


A request for quotation, or RFQ, is most frequently used when companies are looking to purchase a specific good or service and comparing pricing from multiple suppliers to get the lowest cost possible. This document is straightforward and lacks the details of an RFI or RFP, focusing only on pricing for various types of products and services.

This request includes various components, such as a point of contact for the potential buyer to speak with, pricing information, and an outline of the products and services you offer. 

Differences between RFI, RFQ, and RFP

Differences between RFI, RFQ, and RFP.

Read more: Guide to Bidding & Tendering Process for Project Management

Tips for Preparing Request Documents


An RFI is an opportunity to highlight the best your business has to offer—the time to go all out. While the focus of the RFI should be to provide thorough information about your products and services, it’s also an appropriate time to accentuate any company achievements and awards you hold. Emphasize what makes you stand out from the competition and what your areas of expertise are. 


When preparing an RFQ, it’s best to get right to the point without too much “fluff” about your business and services. At this phase, businesses are strictly interested in pricing information. When preparing an RFQ, it’s helpful to have pricing information updated already, so consider keeping your pricing information in one cohesive spreadsheet or document that can be updated frequently. 


An RFP is a detailed document and will likely take considerable time to prepare. This type of document requires you to find the middle ground between highlighting why your business is the best choice to fulfill the job while detailing, in specific, how you would carry out the task. Designs and visual aids can be helpful when preparing an RFP, as it makes it more appealing to stakeholders. 

Read more: Key Project Management Terms and Concepts


Procurement is a process that businesses use to research, vet, and obtain necessary services and products from 3rd party businesses. This process involves multiple steps and numerous unique documents that support it—from researching potential suppliers to communicating terms, bidding, and negotiating the terms of a particular contract or job.

RFI, RFQ, and RFP documents all support milestones within the procurement process, from the earliest research (which is typically aided by an RFI) to pricing comparisons (aided by RFQ) and the bidding process and vendor selections (aided by RFP).

Unlike RFIs and RFQs, RFP documents are actually part of both the procurement process and the more isolated process within procurement: bidding and tendering. Once the request for proposal has been met by the outside vendor, the document then is returned to the inquiring organization to review against other vendors. From there, the organization can choose to negotiate directly with one vendor, a select group of vendors, or open the floor for open proposals where multiple vendors compete against each other.

Sign up for our emails and be the first to see helpful how-tos, insider tips & tricks, and a collection of templates & tools. Subscribe Now

Featured Partners

Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources.

Lauren Good Avatar

Get the Newsletter

Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources.