An RFI (request for information) is a formal process for gathering information from potential suppliers of a good or service.
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An RFI is typically the first and most broadly cast of a series of requests intended to narrow down a list of candidates. RFIs are often used for major IT purchases. Ideally, an RFI identifies the requirements or expectations of the organization and requests specific answers for how the vendor will meet them. To help identify differences among vendors, a good RFI will also focus on requirements that are unique to the inquiring business and on concerns that are less likely to be addressed by every vendor. Recipients are usually asked to submit their responses in a standard format to make comparisons easier.