request for proposal (RFP)

A formal request by a company or organization (customer) presented to one or more potential vendors asking for a formal proposal to supply goods or services based upon specifications set forth in the request. An RFP typically includes specifications of the product or service required, quantities required, time and place of delivery, method of shipment, packaging, materiels to be furnished and other technical requirements. The RFP also asks for prices and payment terms for products, services and maintenance.
Proposals sent in response to an RFP assist the customer in making an educated purchasing decision. An RFP can be as simple as a one page letter of request to a multi-thousand page document outlining specifications in minute detail.

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