The purpose for using the Request for Quote (RFQ) Process is to obtain price and availability information of product from either a single or range of suppliers. The RFQ process typically targets two activities

* Establishing a part – supplier – price – relationship
* Obtaining Value for Money through running RFQ through multiple vendors.

The RFQ process however is often bureaucratic – a typically non-automated process it can attract substantial overhead in its administration coupled with the evaluation of responses. This is especially true for organizations which manage substantial volumes of parts. If the market lacks price and availability instability the value add for the process is often questionable.

A common issue is that the RFQ process is utilized on established (and long term) runner repeater product where there is no need (i.e. supplier relationships and price/lead-time criteria is already well established) and the costs of the RFQ process outweigh the benefits found by competing the part. It’s not uncommon to find that despite numerous suppliers being tendered the part is always procured from the same one at the same price.

So why is the RFQ process used in these cases? The RFQ process is utilized in these processes because

• The previous quotation validity has expired
• Perceived variability in price and lead-time

Example Request for Quotation (RFQ) Process

A Typical RFQ process will include a variety of steps such as:

• Obtaining a Specification of the product to be bought
• Sourcing suppliers
• Producing and communicating a RFQ document which is typically built up of a
o Statement of requirement
o Applicable Terms and Conditions of Purchase
• Expediting suppliers for return of information
• Evaluation of responses and selection of source of supply
• Approvals

The Criteria for evaluating the responses is typically defined through analysis of price, lead-time and compliance against specification – different organizations may place particular weighting on an individual facet (often price!). Other aspects may also come into play such as payment terms and quality releases.

Given that the process can attract administrative cost there is a need to ensure the process is both efficient and only used as required (such as for stranger product or where supplier relationships are not established). This can be supported by a methodology deployed with the buyer and a focus on developing a long term supplier strategy when known.

Establishing long term agreements with suppliers with fixed pricing can often negate the need for an RFQ process – this establishes a long term pricing model and dictates terms and conditions – the downside of this approach is that it does reduce flexibility and can miss out on beneficial pricing adjustments in the market.

In order to mitigate the administrative overhead many organizations automate the process relying on e-procurement software and enabling workflow – this can provide all the benefits of a RFQ process but with much reduced overhead (although there is a reliance on technology which may or may not be present). The downside for this is that it relies on established rules (i.e. commodity structures) and again can’t cope with stranger product.

In most organizations the RFQ process is a necessary evil – commodity led organizations that procure raw material often have a requirement to verify pricing and or lead-time and despite common methods to move towards longer term agreements the RFQ process usually remains in some guise – it’s therefore necessary to ensure that the process is efficient and human intervention is minimized.

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