What’s the difference between an EOI, RFP, RFT and RFQ?

What’s the difference between an EOI, RFP, RFT and RFQ?  If you’re confused by the plethora of terms around bid management, tender consulting, proposals and the equally confusing list of acronyms related to procurement you’re not alone. The various acronyms used in the procurement process has a lot to do around the buyer’s readiness to purchase.


For example, an EOI (Expression of Interest) – often done in the early stages of the procurement process – may be released if the buyer is just looking, or is seeking industry input into scoping requirements that will then go back out to market later on.  An RFP (Request for Proposal) is often the next stage where the buyer goes to market for solutions-oriented approaches to service or product delivery.

The RFT (Request for Tender) on the other scale is a request to really get a proposal on the table around how you would design a solution or deliver a product or service, but usually delves further into what you are like to do business with such as seeking information about organisational capability and resources, financial viability, sustainability principles and value adding. A Request for Tender may not seek pricing initially and may involve several phases of short-listing.  A RFQ is a request to provide pricing on a product or service, which is generally not asked for in the early stages of procurement such as a Request for Information.

For simplicity I have summarised the key differences below:

RFI – Request (or Registration) for information

EOI – Expression of Interest

RFP – Request for Proposals

RFO – Request for Offer

RFT / RFQ – Request for Tender, Request for Quotation

RFT differences

In summary, Expressions of Interest are useful when the number of players, market size or the approach to solving a problem is largely unknown. Request for Tenders are often used in the major infrastructure and construction industry where solutions to problems are high value, high risk and very specific.

When to use an EOI versus RFP and RFT

In most cases EOIs and RFTs have been pre-designed and specified as a result of significant amount of consultation, engagement and preliminary design work.  RFPs on the other hand, provide for greater flexibility. This format is often used in the professional services sector (such as technology, recruitment, environmental consulting and creative industries sectors) where there are many options and a variety of possible solutions.

Want to brush up on your lingo? Read our article on The difference between bids, tenders and proposals.

Have you come across any new formats to procure professional services? If so, we’d like to know.  

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