RFP Meaning in Procurement Explained 

The world of procurement can be stressful, with plenty of moving parts, logistics and compliance requirements to consider.

Procurement professionals are, therefore, always looking for ways to streamline the process – benefitting from forward planning to avoid extortionate prices and paper trails to ensure compliance.

This involves employing key documents that make the procurement process simple and traceable. One of these is an RFP.

In this guide, DeepStream explains what RFPs are, the key elements they include, and the basic RFP process most procurement teams will need to navigate.

What is a Request for Proposal? 

A request for proposal (RFP) is a formal document used by procurement professionals to solicit offers from potential vendors or suppliers.

It outlines the specific needs of an organisation, as well as any additional requirements or objectives related to timings and budgets.

An RFP typically includes details such as project scope, timelines, evaluation criteria, costs and contractual terms.

Vendors or suppliers are then invited to respond to the RFP by submitting proposals detailing how they will meet the organisation’s requirements, along with price bids and implementation plans.

The organisation evaluates the proposals and selects the most suitable vendor based on factors such as expertise, cost and alignment with company objectives.

What Does an RFP Include? 

An RFP typically includes the following elements:


Background information about the organisation and the purpose of the RFP.

Project Scope

A clear description of the project, including specific deliverables and objectives.


Detailed specification and functional requirements.


Project milestones, including deadlines and the expected project duration.

Evaluation Criteria

Criteria used to assess and compare vendor proposals.

Submission Guidelines

Instructions for vendors on how to format and submit their proposals.

Contractual Terms

Any specific terms or conditions that vendors need to adhere to if selected.

Contact Information

Point of contact for any clarifications or enquiries.


Additional documents of references that provide further context or support.

Why Do Organisations Issue RFPs? 

Organisations issue RFPs to solicit competitive proposals, evaluate vendor capabilities and make informed procurement decisions.

A successful RFP process allows procurement teams to access the highest quality products at the most affordable prices, with contractual terms that suit their needs.

But when would you issue an RFP, instead of continuing with existing vendor contracts? The most common reasons for RFPs include: 

Accounting For Complex Considerations

Procurement teams won’t always simply opt for the best vendor based on price, but there may be other complex requirements that need to be fulfilled, such as culture or security protocol.

Encouraging Competitive Pricing

RFPs encourage vendors to compete for the contract. This places the power in the client company’s hands, with vendors attempting to provide the best deal.

Ensuring a Fair and Unbiased Process

The RFP process puts all vendors on a level playing field, with no vendor having an advantage over the other. This helps procurement teams meet fairness and compliance requirements.

Reducing Risk

Due to the formal nature of the RFP arrangement, vendors are required to remain transparent about what tasks they can and can’t perform, reducing the risk of procurement fraud.

Why are RFPs Important in Procurement?

RFPs provide a range of benefits for procurement teams, including:


RFPs clearly define project requirements, ensuring vendors understand the organisation's needs and can assist with wider project management.

Competitive Bidding

RFPs encourage multiple vendors to submit proposals, fostering healthy competition and, as a result, more attractive pricing.

Vendor Evaluation

RFPs allow organisations to compare and evaluate multiple vendor capabilities, expertise and experience.

Decision Making

RFP responses provide valuable insights for informed procurement decisions.


RFPs establish a structured and consistent process, promoting fairness and transparency.

Risk Mitigation

RFPs enable organisations to assess vendor reliability, financial stability and risk management strategies.

Contract Negotiation

RFPs serve as a foundation for negotiating terms, pricing and service-level agreements with selected vendors, pre-contract.

The RFP Process 

The RFP process typically follows a set of important steps to ensure consistency and fairness and allow businesses to get the most out of their vendor partnerships.

These include:

Needs Assessment

Identify the company’s requirements and objectives for a particular project.

RFP Creation

Prepare a comprehensive RFP document, outlining project details, specifications, evaluation criteria and submission guidelines.

Vendor Identification

Identify potential vendors or suppliers who can fulfil the client’s requirements.

Proposal Submission

Distribute the RFP to selected vendors, allowing them to submit their proposals in the form of RFP responses, within a specified timeframe.

Proposal Evaluation

Evaluate the received proposals based on predetermined criteria, such as vendor qualifications, pricing, expertise and alignment with project objectives.

Vendor Selection

Select the preferred vendors based on the evaluation results, often through a combination of objective scoring against key criteria, and subjective judgment.

Contract Negotiation

Initiate contract negotiations with the chosen vendors to finalise terms, pricing, deliverables and other relevant aspects.

Contract Award

Award the contract to the selected vendor and proceed with the implementation of the project.

What Does an RFP Look Like?

While RFP documents are unique to the procurement team and project, there are a set of common criteria and fields that populate most forms. Here, DeepStream provides an example template of an RFP.


An example of an RFP for a supermarket supplier would be:

[Supermarket Name]

Request for Proposal: Supermarket Supplier Services

Background: [Provide a brief overview of your supermarket, including its size, location, and target market.]

Product Categories: [Specify the product categories for which you are seeking suppliers, such as fresh produce, dairy, meat, bakery, etc.]

Quality Standards: [Outline the quality standards and certifications required for the products to be supplied.]

Pricing and Terms: [Indicate the pricing structure, payment terms and any specific pricing requirements, such as discounts or promotions.]

Product Specifications: [Detail the specific product specifications, including size, weight, packaging, labelling and shelf-life requirements.]

Sustainability: [Outline any sustainability initiatives or requirements, such as eco-friendly packaging or responsible sourcing.]

Delivery and Logistics: [Specify the desired delivery schedule, transportation arrangements and any specific delivery requirements.]

Proposal Submission: [Specify the format, deadline and submission instructions for proposals.]

Evaluation Criteria: [List the criteria that will be used to evaluate proposals, such as product quality, pricing competitiveness, delivery capabilities and sustainability practices.]

Contractual Terms: [Highlight any specific terms, conditions or legal requirements that suppliers must adhere to.]

Contact Information: [Provide contact details for any inquiries or clarifications regarding the RFP.]

DeepStream RFX Software

DeepStream RFX software simplifies your procurement processes. Automate proposals – to save time and reduce error with RFP documents and make the process more efficient – tailor workflows and make collaboration easier, to give you time back to spend on strategic, value-add tasks.

Enjoy a centralised, digital space to keep track of RFx documents, including RFPs and RFQs, and conduct eAuctions and straightforward supplier analysis in a single, intuitive platform.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Q: What is the Difference Between RFP and RFQ? 

A: RFPs and RFQs are both used in the procurement process but for slightly different requirements.RFP stands for Request for Proposal, which is used to solicit proposals from potential suppliers or vendors. RFQ stands for Request for Quotation, which is used specifically to request pricing information for defined products or services.

Q: What are the 7 Steps of an RFP?

A: The seven steps of an RFP (Request for Proposal) process typically include:

1. Define project requirements
2. Create the RFP document
3. Identify and invite potential vendors
4. Receive and evaluate proposals
5. Conduct vendor presentations or interviews
6. Select the preferred vendor
7. Negotiate and finalise the contract.

Q: What is an RFP in Simple Terms?

A: An RFP, or Request for Proposal, is a document that businesses create to tell suppliers about the products or services they need. It includes details on how potential vendors or suppliers can bid to provide these products or services and win the business’ custom.

Q: What is an RFP in the Supply Chain?

A: In the supply chain context, an RFP (Request for Proposal) is a formal document issued by a company to solicit bids or proposals from potential suppliers or vendors to provide goods or services. It helps streamline the procurement process and enables companies to evaluate and select the most suitable suppliers for their needs.

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