What Makes an Effective RFI?

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Part of our everyday Data HQ life is receiving ‘requests for Information’ from potential clients. These vary in length, in detail and in structure but the purpose is always the same….. are we the right agency for the task in hand and will we make a perfect partner!

As seasoned experts, we thought we would look at what we think makes an effective RFI.

What is a Request for Information?

A request for information (RFI) is the formal way of requesting information from potential partners with the ultimate aim being to purchase their services. The RFI is usually a document containing a description on why the information is being requested and a specification to what information that actually is requested. The RFI is mainly used if you need to involve an agency in a new project or if you want to review the market for other potential agencies. The number of agencies that are available could be vast, and the RFI creates a structured process to narrowing down a longlist to a shortlist of better matched partners. When having a shortlist it is possible to go for the next step, an RFP (request for proposal) or RFQ (request for quote).

When to use a Request for Information?

An RFI is best used when you have a lot of potential agencies and you need comparable information. It also good to use a RFI when you have a set list of requirements/criteria which a potential agency needs to meet e.g. accreditations, compatible software systems etc

Distinction between the Request For Proposal and the Request For Information

The difference between the RFI and RFP is that the RFI is requesting information only, while the RFP is a request to get a proposal usually to a set brief. The RFQ in contrast is a request to get a quote or set price. This is something you do not usually do in an RFI.

Benefits of a Request For Information

  • Information is gathered in a structured and comparable format
  • Understanding that there is a tender process taking place
  • Demonstrating you’re acting without prejudice
  • Receive a formal reply

What makes an effective RFI?

This is a suggestion of what to cover in an RFI :

1. Confidentiality (is a NDA required?)

2. Introduction and purpose of the RFI

3. Scope

4. Abbreviation and terminology

5. RFI procedure

- How to deliver the answer

- Contacts

- Timeframe

6. Background description of what is requested:

- Of your company

- Of the context in which the service will be used

- Statement of need

- Requirements

- Qualifications

7. Conditions which will be terms for future RFPs or RFQs


Finding the right partner to help you with your data marketing requirements can be a daunting task. However, with a little pre-planning and drafting an effective RFI the process should be a lot easier than expected!

  • Do you think a RFI will help with your tender process?
  • Have you successfully completed a tender process which started with a RFI?
  • Are you looking to improve the way you find new agency partners?