RFP vs RFQ vs RFI: Understanding the Difference

RFPs, RFQs and RFIs can all be used for different purposes during the procurement process. And understanding the unique value of each process is crucial to efficient and successful procurement. But what are the key differences between these processes, and when does each request prove valuable to procurement professionals?

In this guide, DeepStream explains the differences between RFP, RFQ andRFI processes, including why each one is useful and their key roles in the procurement process.

Introduction to Procurement Processes 

Procurement processes are essential in the successful sourcing and purchasing of key products and services. They include RFIs, RFPs, RFQs, contracts and purchase orders.

These processes outline the requirements, specifications, terms and conditions for sourcing goods or services.

They prove crucial in business transactions as they clarify expectations, establish legal obligations and ensure a fair and transparent procurement process.

‘Request for X’ (RFx) processes help procurement teams communicate their needs, evaluate potential suppliers, negotiate terms and, ultimately, facilitate successful business transactions – while minimising legal and financial risks and ensuring compliance with industry regulations.

So, what are the key RFx processes?

What is a Request for Information (RFI)? 

An RFI is designed to gather general information about vendors' capabilities, products or services – before initiating the first stages of the procurement process or drafting a vendor shortlist.

It is typically the first of the processes to be issued and differs from the others as it primarily focuses on gathering information and assessing vendor capabilities rather than requesting detailed proposals or quotations.

The RFI may determine the details included in – or the recipients of – future processes, such as RFPs and RFQs.

Find out more about RFI processes in our helpful guide!

What is a Request for Quotation (RFQ)? 

An RFQ is a procurement process used to request price quotes from vendors for specific products or services.

Its purpose is to gather pricing information, compare quotes and help procurement professionals select the best vendor based on price and other factors.

RFQs are most appropriate in scenarios where a company has clearly defined requirements, knows the exact specifications of the desired products or services and needs to compare pricing from multiple vendors before making a purchasing decision.

They differ from RFIs and RFPs, as they specifically seek pricing information, while an RFI gathers more general information and RFPs solicit detailed proposals from suppliers. 

Find out more about RFQ processes in our helpful guide!

What is a Request for Proposal (RFP)? 

The purpose of an RFP is to invite vendors to submit comprehensive proposals that outline how they will meet specific project requirements, deliverables, timelines and pricing requirements – enabling effective vendor evaluation and selection.

Procurement teams issue an RFP when they have clearly defined project requirements and are ready to evaluate detailed proposals from qualified vendors.

Find out more about RFP processes in our helpful guide!

Comparative Analysis of RFIs, RFQs, and RFPs 

RFIs, RFQs and RFPs work together in the procurement process – providing essential preliminary information to help procurement teams make informed decisions.

These processes can be used together or sequentially within the procurement process.

RFIs are typically issued first, to gather general information, followed by RFQs to obtain pricing details. Finally, RFPs can be used to request detailed proposals for vendor evaluation and selection.

However, there are some key differences that make each process unique in terms of content, purpose, and outcome:


RFIs gather general information, RFQs focus on pricing and RFPs include specific project requirements and proposal details.


RFIs assess vendor capabilities, RFQs solicit quotes and RFPs invite detailed proposals for evaluation.


RFIs provide preliminary vendor assessment, RFQs determine pricing and RFPs help with vendor selection based on proposals.

Best Practices in Using RFIs, RFQs and RFPs 

When deciding which procurement process is most effective in a specific situation, procurement teams should consider the following:


Determine the specific goals and requirements of the procurement process, such as gathering information, comparing prices or selecting a vendor.

Informational Needs

Assess the level of information required. If general information about vendors is needed, an RFI is appropriate. If pricing details are the focus, an RFQ is suitable. For comprehensive proposals, an RFP is the right choice.


Consider the stage of the procurement process. RFIs are typically used in the early stages to gather information,RFQs are issued when pricing is a priority and RFPs are used when detailed proposals are needed for vendor evaluation and selection.

Scope and Complexity

Evaluate the complexity of the project or requirements. RFIs solicit more general information, while RFQs andRFPs involve specific project details, making them suitable for more complex or advanced procurement projects.

Resources and Timeline

Assess the available resources, including time and personnel. RFIs are generally quicker to execute, while RFQs and RFPs require more time and effort to analyse and evaluate responses.

How Can Deepstream Help?

Keeping track of individual procurement processes can create potential challenges – whether they’re saved on a shared drive or handled physically.

With Deepstream’s RFx software, all procurement processes can be saved in a centralised and secure location – accessible by authorised personnel, from anywhere.

Your RFPs, RFIs, RFQs and other eProcurement processes can be edited, accessed and stored on a completely transparent and secure software that protects against procurement fraud – providing peace of mind.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Does RFQ or RFP Come First?

A: An RFQ typically comes before an RFP in the procurement process. This is because anRFQ is used to solicit pricing information from vendors, while an RFP is issued to request detailed proposals that include pricing along with other specific requirements.


Q: Is An RFI Before An RFP?

A: In the procurement process, an RFI usually comes before an RFP. This is because an RFI is used to gather general information and assess vendor capabilities, while an RFP is a more detailed process requesting specific proposals from qualified vendors.


Q: Who Usually Writes the RFP?

A: The RFP process is typically written by the project or procurement teams, who are responsible for outlining the project requirements, scope of work, evaluation criteria and other pertinent details to invite vendors to submit their proposals.


Q: Is an RFP Synonymous With an RFI?

A: No, an RFP is not synonymous with an RFI. While both are procurement processes, an RFI is used to gather general information about vendors and their capabilities, while an RFPis a more detailed solicitation for specific proposals that address project requirements, pricing and other specific criteria. An RFI is typically issued before an RFP – and both are used together for successful procurement.

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