Request for Proposal

What Does Request for Proposal Mean?

A request for proposal (RFP) is a document that describes in detail specifically what product or service a customer wants to purchase and how bids will be evaluated. RFPs are used when a company knows what they want to buy and is soliciting multiple offers.


An RFP provides a procurement framework that can streamline the initial stages of contract solicitation. Once RFPs have been received, the issuing organization will create a short list of the best proposals and open contract negotiations. The contract will be awarded to the bidder that best met the organization's needs as defined by the RFP.

RFPs are often confused with requests for information (RFI) and requests for quotation (RFQ). RFP also may refer to a request for pricing.

RFP Request for Proposal The customer knows exactly what product or service they want to purchase.
RFI Request for Information The customer knows what business problem they want to solve, but is not sure how a vendor's product or service could provide a solution.
RFQ Request for Quotation The customer wants to compare prices between suppliers.

Techopedia Explains Request for Proposal

The process for solicitating RFPs begins when the soliciting vendor issues their first draft of an RFP. This initial step allows potential bidders to ask questions and learn more about what problem the organization is trying to solve. Any information gathered during this stage will be used to improve the final draft of the RFP document.

How Do You Write a Request for Proposal?

There are many different ways to format and write an RFP, but they all follow a similar framework. The document begins with an introduction. This section of an RFP will include an overview of what the purchases is looking for. It will also often include information about the organization to give bidders some context for the project. Information about the organization helps the bidders to decide if they want to work with the organization on their project.

The next section of an RFP will focus on the goals of the project. This is often the most important section of the document. The expectations must be specific and the goals must be clear. The bidder will use this section to determine the requirements of the project and estimate the cost and time required to complete the project. If a specific process must be used, or a task completed, it is important to include it here. If this section is not clear the resulting proposal estimates may not reflect the scope of the project.

The selection criteria section is next. In this section, the process to determine how a bidder will be selected is outlined. This could include a scoring system that awards points to proposals based on different categories. Information about the proposal schedule can be included in this section as well. This includes information about deadlines. It can also be helpful to schedule time for bidders to ask questions about the project.

The RFP then has a section about the project timelines. This section describes how long the project is expected to take and any important deadlines. It is important to set an appropriate timeline. Bidders will use this information to determine if they can work within your time restraints.

The final section outlines the proposal process. It should include how the assessment process works and when bidders should expect to hear back. This section can also include an outline of how bidders should format their proposals.


Related Terms

Latest Data Management Terms

Related Reading

Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…