How To Differentiate an ERP RFI and an ERP RFP?

PostedOn: 2018-07-20 11:25:11

We often hear questions about the differences between an ERP RFI and an ERP RFP. When should you use each, and what is its purpose?

An RFI, or Request for Information, is a procurement document used by an organization to:

  • gather relevant information about available ERP options and
  • help narrow down prospective ERP partners.

RFIs are therefore crafted and issued at an early, exploratory stage of ERP project development, and are often used in combination with a later RFP.

An RFP, or request for proposal is more targeted than an RFI. Instead of asking prospective ERP vendors for information, an RFP tells them your specific project needs/goals and asks them to send you a specific, customized proposal to meet your expressed needs. You’ll analyze these proposals and make a decision about which ERP partner to go with for your implementation.

The Purpose and Parts of an ERP RFI

When you send out an RFI, you likely have a general idea of what you need and want from an ERP vendor, but are still open to new ideas and perspectives. Your RFI questions can, therefore, be more open-ended.

An effective RFI gives you an overview of the ERP vendor landscape, letting you see what might available in terms of technology and support. You use the information you learn in the RFI to decide which vendors to get to know better through additional meetings and demos, on-site visits, or proof-of-concept examples. Here are the primary goals of an ERP RFI:

Explore Cultural Fit

As in all business relationships, the cultural fit is a critical factor to consider. You’ll want to explore working styles and collaborative approaches to see if there’s a good match between your own company and the potential ERP vendor. 

Explore Functional Requirements

This is the most significant part of an RFI and will be the most detailed. Here you’ll explain your ERP project goals and system requirements to vendors.

For example, maybe you want to begin selling your products online in a Webshop. Or maybe you’re planning M&A activities that will require you to integrate other companies into your ERP. Or maybe you want to improve your quality management processes in production and distribution. Maybe you’re ready to start the move to the cloud and mobile processes. 

Regardless of your plans, the RFI is the place to start assessing which ERP systems will be able to meet your requirements.