Whether you are a small or a large business aiming to do business with the Government, Requests for Information (RFIs) are something you should not be ignoring. Responding to RFIs is the first step in the long journey of winning government contracts.
An RFI is a document issued by the Government to gather information about the capabilities of various suppliers in the market and their products and services. It is released in the early phases of the procurement process to acquire detailed information about the potential suppliers. Through RFIs, Government agencies generally request prospective suppliers to submit specific information such as technological capabilities, financial condition, or quality controls related to the future contract requirement of the Government. These responses inform the agency to resolve any gaps in their requirements, approach to the procurement before moving on to the Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Quote (RFQ), Invitation for Bid (IFB), or sole source.
In this blog, we have explained the importance of responding to RFIs, and how you can use them to get noticed by the Government, give feedback to the Government to understand any gaps, disparities, and conflicts in their requirements, and in the longer run, make wins.
Importance of Responding to RFIs
There are six reasons why you should respond to RFIs relevant to your business capabilities:
- It Helps You Get Noticed and Build Relationships: If you are a new company, responding to RFIs helps you introduce yourself in the market and build relationships with the Government agency. It helps the Government agency stakeholders such as the Contracting Officers (COs) to understand your abilities and interest in the requirement. It helps the new companies to introduce themselves to the market. Moreover, the open-ended nature of RFIs allows you to get noticed even if you have little experience.
- It Helps You Showcase Your Capabilities: Responding to an RFI gives the Government agency an idea of the types of solutions that you have to offer and the capabilities you possess. It is from this pool of solutions that agencies determine which solution or set of solutions caters best to their requirements. This enables the Government to narrow down the list of vendors and the type of solutions available and can help you stand out from your competition.
- It Gives You a Chance to Shape Future RFP Requirements: Your response to an RFI can help shape the requirements of the future solicitation released for that particular requirement. In multiple instances, before releasing the RFP/RFQ, Government agencies release RFIs. By responding, you can provide your comments, suggestions, and feedback to the Government that can help shape the final solicitation.
- It Can Be a Means to Winning Sole Source Contracts: Many sole source contracts are often awarded as a result of RFIs. To be considered as a sole source awardee, offerors often have to send their responses against the RFI notice released by the Government. All the responses then pass through the evaluation and the vendors with best solutions stand a chance of being awarded the sole source contract for that requirement.
- It Can Help The Government Decide Set-Asides: Responding to RFIs as a small business can help the agency to determine the potential for a small business set-aside (SBSA) and what particular socio-economic category to set an opportunity aside for.
- It Can Help You in Understanding and Preparing for a Solicitation before its Release: RFIs and their accompanying draft requirements can also provide you with an early insight into the Government’s need under a particular requirement. This can help you get a picture of what the agency is looking for and plan accordingly for the long term.
The manifold importance of responding to RFIs can be understood from the fact that many contract vehicles in the recent past have required mandatory participation at the RFI stage for offers to be eligible for the RFP submission process. A recent example of this is FAA’s eFast. Similarly, industry feedback that was received through RFIs and discussion with interested offerors led to updates in GSA’s Polaris GWAC. Changes were made in order to encourage participation by small businesses, emphasize customer requirements, and reduce barriers to entry for small businesses. Similarly, industry feedback given through RFIs is helping shape GSA’s BIC MAC (OASIS successor).
RFIs are golden opportunities to make a mark in the Government marketplace, and take your business to the next level. iQuasar’s Proposal Development team can help you prepare the most effective RFI and RFP responses, and guide you through the process of developing a winning proposal. iQuasar supports Small Businesses in bidding for contract vehicles, including GSA MAS, OASIS, GSA FSS, Alliant SB, 8(a) STARS, HCaTS, Navy SEAPORT-E, CATS+, MOBIS, RMAS, other GWACs, and NIH CIO-SP3/CIO-SP4. Our team is well-acquainted with the Federal market and is proactively helping Small Businesses in preparing for winning business in it. Our team of experts will manage the entire process by helping you assess your eligibility, increase your readiness levels, prepare a proposal development strategy tailored to your firm’s unique requirements, and create a high-quality and compliant proposal response to help you win. Feel free to reach out to us.