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RFP Definition

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What is an RFP?

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An RFP, or request for proposal, is a document that invites suppliers to bid for a contract. This can be used to procure outsourcing partners, services, products, components, parts and materials. An RFP is an extensive process that is typically used for major contracts where your needs are unique.

Why Issue An RFP?

An RFP is a way to communicate your requirements to potential suppliers and request a detailed proposal back from them. This is useful when your requirements are unique such that their are no standard products and services on the market that can meet your needs. A request for proposal may ask the vendor to outline how each requirement may be met. This information can then be used to evaluate bids to select the supplier that is offering the highest quality solution relative to price.

RFP Template

A typical RFP contains the following sections.
The template above is explained in detail here with an example here.

RFP Process

The RFP process begins with planning a project and identifying the need for suppliers. An RFP is developed that documents your needs and requirements for an RFP response. The RFP is communicated and vendors are provided with a question and answer session. RFP responses are received back from vendors and a process of validating, scoring and awarding a contract is conducted.
The process above is explained here.


An RFP is a request for full commercial proposals. An RFI, or request for information, is a request for vendors to provide information regarding their products, services or capabilities. An RFI often proceeds an RFP and may be used to qualify vendors for participation in an RFP process.


An RFQ, or request for quotation, is a request for a quote that includes a detailed price, terms and quality information. This is far less information than required by an RFP. Generally speaking, an RFQ is used when you are purchasing a standard product or service. An RFP is used when you are purchasing a non-standard item that is built to your specifications. For example, a firm may use an RFQ to purchase heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units for a building and an RFP to outsource construction of the building.


An SOW, or statement of work is the core content of an RFP that states the work that will be performed by the selected vendor including a list of deliverables, acceptance criteria and a schedule. The statement of work is also typically included in the contract with the vendor.
Overview: RFP Definition
A document that invites suppliers to submit a detailed proposal bid for a contract.
Related Concepts
Next: RFP Template
More about RFPs:
RFP Definition
RFP Example
RFP Process
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An RFP template with explanations and a completed example.

RFP Example

A complete example of an RFP.

RFP Process

A complete guide to the RFP process.

Statement Of Work

A complete overview of statement of work.

Price Analysis

An overview of price analysis for purchasing and procurement with examples.


Procurement explained.

Cost Goals

An overview of cost goals with examples.

Administration Examples

An overview of administration with examples.

Logistics Examples

An overview of logistics with examples.

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The potential for failures of a procurement process.

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