RFI or Request For Information
One of the acronyms for RFI is a reference to a request for information. This is a standard practice in business to collect information that is needed on a particular subject matter. The request itself is usually in the form of a written document that has a set format. This is done so the responses can be competitively compared.
The RFI is primarily an information-gathering device businesses use to find out what is available to them that can be used in their business. The information that is sent out in response to one of these is generally information that is publicly available. Proprietary information and details are generally reserved for later communications, if so desired.
An RFI document is at times sent out alone. There are other instances where a RFP or request for proposal, a RFT or request for tender, or a RFQ or request for quotation accompanies the request for information document. When this is done, it is a clear indication that some sort of interaction between the two businesses could occur.
If just a RFI is sent out, most of the time it is sent to many prospective suppliers. The responses will then be compared so the best decision on the product concerning cost, quality, and availability can be determined. In many cases, there is a section on the request that is to be filled out. This is formatted so an easy comparison can be made on the different statistics that were requested on the product or services.
What a RFI does not include is any indication that a contract or award of business will certainly follow any response. This is only a request for information that might lead to a business interaction, but no guarantee that it will.
An RFI is generally done in the planning stage of a project when information is needed that is not obtainable by other means. This can include purchasing options of a product, its specifications, and any product requirements that may be needed to use it.