RFx (request for x) encompasses the entire formal request process and can include any of the following:
- request for bid (RFB)
- request for information (RFI)
- request for proposal (RFP)
- request for quotation (RFQ)
- request for tender (RFT)
The RFx process is conducted business-to-business (B2B) during the negotiation process and helps to manage expectations prior to purchase or procurement. Each request requires standardized documentation and is submitted directly to the company. Companies may choose to have entire teams dedicated to resolving RFx requests while others may have a process that spans across multiple channels.
During the RFx process, some requests, like the RFI, can include "what if" scenarios to better understand compatibility or problem-solving ethos. These requests can be very helpful during the sales process or prior to switching from another product or service provider.
RFB vs. RFP
A request for bid, also known as an invitation to bid or request for quotation, is when a company or organization invites contractors or product suppliers to bid on specific projects. The RFB, or RFQ, is focused more on pricing for the products or services than other project details.
In these instances, the price is the determining factor so, typically, the contractor or product supplier that fulfills the project needs at the lowest price wins the contact.
While RFBs use pricing as the deciding factor, a request for proposal is used when other considerations are high priority, such as the quality of the products, the expertise of the company providing the bid, their ideas around how the project could be done most efficiently and project management capabilities.
This means that with RFPs, companies are expected to bring something of unique value to the project and may win the contract even if their price to complete it is much higher than other bidders.
RFT vs. RFP
A request for tender is similar to an RFP, with a few key differences. An RFT is typically used by the public sector. It's an open invitation for suppliers to bid on a specific project, rather than a B2B request. The RFT often involves public funding, so the RFT is put out into the public arena in a way that ensures equal competition and impartiality. Bidders are often expected to meet specific regulatory standards, suitability requirements and legal requirements.