RFT vs RFP, EOI, RFI… We Explain The Differences

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What’s the difference between an RFT and an RFP?

If you have ever gone through a procurement process for a government or private contract you could be forgiven for being confused by the titles given to purchasing documents. Request For Tender (RFT), Request For Proposal (RFP), Request For Quotation (RFQ), Request For Information (RFI), Request For Offer (RFO), Expression Of Interest (EOI)… the list appears to be endless.

It doesn’t help that some organisations muddy the waters with their own naming conventions, such as “Request For Expression of Interest”, or the minimally worded “Request.” Government departments, large purchasers as they are, are often renegades in this respect.

All of these documents do, however, have an important place in the purchasing process: that is, the process whereby a company or government department (the purchaser) will seek offers for the provision of products or services from a range of suppliers.

Purchasing documents: it all depends on how ready the purchaser is to buy

If you’re confused, it helps to view these documents as tools used by buyers at different stages of purchasing readiness. At the beginning of the purchasing process when the purchaser is researching, they might seek to test the market to see who is out there (eg through an Expression Of Interest). At the other end of the process, when the purchaser understands who the main players are and knows exactly what they need, they may issue a detailed Request For Tender (RFT) to objectively choose the best option.

Depending on the product or service, you may need to go through two or three of these stages, competing with other sellers along the way, before you have the opportunity to sign a contract. If this is the case, the purchaser is effectively gradually getting to know you, and you have the opportunity to gradually convince them as to why you are the best supplier for the job. Below we outline the differences between each type of procurement document. This information is based on standards used in Australia.

RFT vs RFP vs EOI and more: what do they mean?


Request For Information (RFI)

A Request For Information (RFI) is usually used when the purchaser does not have sufficient information or understanding to write a detailed Request For Tender (RFT) or Request For Proposal (RFP). An RFI is, in essence, a market research and planning tool to help purchasers identify the scope for a second, more formal request. Purchasers might want to identify the type of service they need, best practice standards, pricing structures, the providers who are capable of delivering the service and what processes they will use. They may even seek industry input into the scope of a contract that will later be put to tender.

At the RFI stage the purchaser is often not committed to buying – they are simply assessing the market. In other words, the purchaser may decide not to proceed and not appoint a supplier at all. If this is the case, it will be stated in the RFI. It’s unlikely that a purchaser would appoint a contractor following an RFI alone and they would usually progress to a more formal RFP or RFT.

Expression Of Interest (EOI) and Registration Of Interest (ROI)

An Expression Of Interest (EOI) or Registration Of Interest (ROI) is similar to an RFI and is used in the same way. A company releasing an EOI may need to assess the market’s ability to supply, or gather additional information before progressing to an RFT. An EOI is often also used as a screening process in the early stages of procurement in order to generate a shortlist for a more specific and formal RFT. As with an RFI, it is unlikely that a purchaser would appoint a contractor directly from an EOI and the process would usually progress to a second, more formal request such as an RFT.

Request For Proposal (RFP) and Request For Offer (RFO)

A Request For Proposal (RFP) or Request For Offer (RFO) is a flexible procurement document used when purchasers seek solutions-based responses to meet their needs. An RFP might be used when factors other than price are central to the evaluation of each offer, or where there is no clearly defined specification or solution and the purchaser is seeking a range of options or innovations. RFPs therefore provide greater flexibility than an RFT (which usually have very clearly defined specifications), although they may appear to be similar in practice. An RFP may be more suited to professional services, where the ‘best’ solution is often not easily defined.

Request For Tender (RFT)

A Request For Tender (RFT) is a process used to appoint a service provider via formal response. A purchaser uses an RFT when they have very clearly defined criteria or specifications. Notwithstanding this, RFTs are normally judged based on both price and qualitative factors and purchasers usually follow strict assessment criteria to ensure a fair and objective process. An RFT usually has both a Price and Qualitative components. In the Price section respondents summarise the fees they will charge to provide the service. In the Qualitative section respondents respond to a range of questions about their experience and capabilities.

While an RFT usually contains a very specific scope, purchasers sometimes encourage innovative solutions outside of the scope of the tender, or ‘alternative bids’. A respondent typically has to make one ‘conforming’ bid within the scope of the tender before it can make a second, alternative bid.

Request For Quotation (RFQ)

A Request For Quote is used by a purchaser when they have very clearly defined criteria or specifications, are not seeking alternative or innovative options and will make an assessment based largely, or solely, on price. The purchaser may make additional qualitative assessments based on other factors such as capability statements or an earlier EOI or RFI process.

Confused about RFTs and RFPs? Contact the experts

We’ll ensure your next tender submission gives you the best chance possible to secure the contract. Learn more about our tender writing services or contact us for a free quote.

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Chris Vincent

Chris Vincent is a communications specialist with expertise in copywriting and content strategy for traditional and online platforms. Chris helps organisations to communicate in a way that engages and motivates audiences to act. Chris is also an experienced tender writer with a background including multi million dollar bids through to helping small businesses to respond to government tenders. Chris is owner of Write House where he is both a working writer as well as manager of a small team of contract writers working with businesses around the country.
Chris VincentRFT vs RFP, EOI, RFI… We Explain The Differences