Sometimes, in the early planning stages of projects,
ou don’t always know who’s going to work with
you on a project
. You know what you need to accomplish, you probably have a few contractors in mind, and may even have a budget range established, but you don’t have a preferred contractor you want to work with.
When this happens, you’ll end up needing a request for quotation (RFQ) in your inbox. If you’ve never encountered one of these before, they can be confusing. But, like most project management documents, it’s nothing that a little information and a template can’t fix.
Get started with this RFQ template.
What is a request for quotation (RFQ)?
A request for quotation (or request for quote) is pretty much what it sounds like - you ask potential contractors to submit a project bid that outlines how much it would cost if they took on your project. This happens early in the project planning process, when companies are trying to determine who’s going to help and how much you can expect to spend (information you can use to inform your
RFQ are typically sent out when you’re sourcing for a project to any company that you want to work with and will work with whoever meets their criteria. Using a template is a good idea for RFQs because it helps you better gather the information that you need and prevents you from organizing all your data in an Excel spreadsheet, which isn’t super user friendly in most processes, let alone the RFQ process.
4 main types of RFQ documents
Like all things in business, there isn't just one kind of RFQ. The different kinds of RFQs are usually determined by factors like the industry that you’re working in, the kind of project, whether or not you’re working with a government agency or private business. Because of the differences, it helps to have specific templates for each option. Luckily templates are modifiable enough that it doesn’t take much to alter them.
This first type of bid is the open bid. With this, everyone can see what other businesses are bidding. This can help you make a more competitive bid by undercutting the competition. However, it also puts contractors in a position to think of value-adds that make a higher bid worthwhile.
A sealed bid is the opposite of an open bid. Here, the details and pricing are hidden, so you can’t change your quote based on what you’re seeing. This allows you to get a true sense of what contractors are charging, so you can make fair and informed decisions.
With invited bids, only companies selected by you can submit. Invited bids can be both open or sealed.
With this approach, bidders are competing against each other by first providing their lowest price and reducing the costs as the auction goes on. It’s basically the opposite of a standard auction, where the prices increase incrementally. Only with the reverse auction, you see how low companies are willing to go to get the job.
The reverse auction is common for open bid government contracts.
Why use a request for quotation template
Templates are an excellent tool for helping you put together strong, professional looking RFQs quickly. You get a boost from having all the information you need to gather laid out for you and, as we mentioned already, you’re not trying to organize everything in a spreadsheet (because no one wants to get a spreadsheet full of numbers they’re supposed to make sense of). Keeping this template in
can help you have it ready when you need it.
RFQs are a good starting point for negotiations. They let you provide a baseline expectations for vendors and help you outline exactly what it is they’ll be doing and how much you’re looking to spend. As you get deeper into the procurement process, you can fine-tune your RFQ to better align with what you’re looking for.
RFQs give you a tool to balance what you’re offering potential clients against how much it costs to do the job. Because you’re often providing a pretty detailed set of requirements with an RFQ, you can use these necessary requirements to assess how much you’d need to make from the project for it to be worthwhile. It’s similar to how it works as a negotiation tool, it gives room to add value.
RFQs help you pick out companies who pay attention to the details. The more specific you are in your request, the more you can choose contractors who notice all the little things and provide you with the information that you really need. It’s like the old story of
Van Halen’s contract
requiring all the brown M&Ms be removed. It wasn’t because they hated brown M&Ms. They put that in their rider to see
A strong template avoids deviation from a process that works for you. You let potential contractors know exactly what you’re looking for and how you want that information presented to you. This ultimately makes it easier for you to to the key information fast.
9 steps involved in creating and approving RFQs
So what does the process look like when you’re creating an RFQ? It can be fairly straightforward once you get used to it, but if you’ve never done it before it can seem a little overwhelming (which is why we’re helping you streamline the process)
1. Define your business needs
You can’t start a project if you don’t know what the project is, yet. Start by defining what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. This helps contractors better understand the motivation behind your project and why you’re looking for a price quote.
2. Write detailed specifications and add relevant documents
In this step, there is no such thing as too much information. Gather up all the specifications or requirements that your project has and include them. If you’ve got a
, include it and any other related documents (like
or a list of deliverables) that you’ve got. The more, the better.
3. Make a list of vendors to outreach
This step depends on what kind of RFQ you’re sending out and only really applies if you’re doing an invited bid. However, even if you’re not doing a specific invited bid, having a
gives you a little bit more control over the bids you receive back. If nothing else, it gives you a way to keep an eye open for specific vendors. You’ll want to capture information like contract information (and a contact person), along with any pricing information you may have from past experience.
4. Send your RFQ document
Send the RFQ out to those selected (or those who reach out) and wait for the goodness to arrive in your inbox (aka, the bids).
5. Agree on the vendor selection criteria
While you’re waiting, decide what the selection criteria are going to be (internal stakeholders are great for this). You’ll get a lot of varying responses, so take the time to decide what’s most important before you start reviewing. You can, of course, use
(in fact, we practically insist you do).
6. Compare different vendor bids
After the window for RFQs closes, the real fun starts - assessing all the bids. As we just said, these are going to be all over the place. Some are going to ignore almost everything you requested (they’re the easiest to disqualify), but others are going to be very close. That’s where having very specific selection criteria can help. Sometimes the difference between the vendor you choose and the one you don’t is very small.
7. Select the best vendor offer
Once you’ve looked at everything, make your selection.
Send the selected vendor all the contracts they need to sign and enjoy the fact that you don’t have to go through the selection process again.
9. Send proposal rejection letters
Always, always, always take the time to thank each and every vendor who submits something, whether you work with them or not. Along with just being the nice thing to do, it shows vendors that you value their time and the energy they put into submitting, even if they weren’t successful.
Get started with this RFQ template.
After you copy this template, you can start utilizing this free RFQ template to help you and your team work with 3rd-party vendors and contractors.
How to write a request for quotation with Coda’s RFQ template
Step 1: Edit RFQ details to fit your company
page, you can customize the look and feel of the RFQ template. Include your company logo, set the cover image, and more. You can include other background or contract information on the RFQ template so that the vendor can best fill out the RFQ. You may even include a timeline of your project so the vendors know when they might hear a response.
Step 2: Send RFQ template
You probably want to create a new Coda doc for each vendor. Simply copy this doc →
and share that copy with the vendor directly. Delete all other pages except for the
page since that’s the main form you want the vendor to fill out. This may be easier for them to fill out compared to a Word or Excel file since everything’s online, and the vendor can share the doc within their team as well.
Step 3 (Optional): Compare bids
You can also manage your team’s entire RFQ process in a Coda doc. On the
page, you can start entering in each bid as they come in into the
table. This allows you to compare the quotes from each vendor. If you do decide to use this Coda doc to manage your RFQ process, make sure to create copies of the
so that vendors cannot see the bids from other vendors. All the bid information should be internal to your team and company (unless you have an open bid RFQ process).
Who is this free RFQ template for?
This template is for anyone who needs to send out an RFQ form and wants a more standardized process.
How to decline a request for quotation?
It depends on the relationship you have with the vendor. But, a polite thanks but no thanks is usually enough. If it was close, let them know. This is a good chance for you to build a relationship that you may need in the future.
What is the difference between request for proposal and request for quotation?
An RFQ, as we’ve been discussing, is when you’re looking to understand how much a project is going to cost. An RFP, on the other hand, allows potential vendors to outline additional factors like
they plan on running the project, any technical specifications they may have, as well as cost.
What is the difference between request for information and request for quotation?
Similar to above, the difference is intent. With a request for information (RFI), you’re looking to learn more about potential vendors, like what they’re capable of, how they work, and more. This can be a good step when you’re looking to put together a list of potential vendors to send an RFQ to.