Choose and manage your IT supplier

Identifying and contacting potential IT suppliers

At the outset of any IT system procurement exercise you should establish and document your requirements. You can provide potential suppliers with these details. It will also provide a framework to compare the different quotations you may receive.

The next stage is to research the potential solutions and suppliers. Try to identify three to five suppliers who are able to propose a solution for the budget you have set. Sources of information include:

  • the internet, including the suppliers' own websites and sites offering independent guidance
  • recommendations from trusted colleagues
  • recommendations from trading and business partners
  • IT seminars and conferences
  • computer trade magazines
  • advice from relevant trade associations and professional bodies
  • IT exhibitions

This research may highlight further options which should be reflected in your statement of requirements.

Having identified the potential suppliers, you can contact them. Two commonly used approaches are a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for quotation (RFQ).

The RFP asks for suppliers to submit formal proposals. This is usually followed by a shortlisting of candidates who are required to provide a series of presentations and/or demonstrations. The RFP should include:

  • the agreed statement of requirements
  • an indication of what format the proposal should follow
  • an indication of the level of detail required in the proposal
  • the timescales within which the proposal should be submitted
  • the procedure for obtaining any further information from you should the suppliers have any queries

The RFQ asks for potential suppliers to competitively provide a cost for the product or service in question. A customer sends solicitations to possible suppliers containing a list of requirements. These can include:

  • part descriptions, specifications or numbers
  • quantities or volumes
  • a description or drawings of the product needed
  • personnel skills or competencies for the product or service
  • terms and conditions
  • term of the contract
  • any other value-added requirements or terms
  • delivery requirements
  • a draft contract

Read information about requests for procurement processes on the Negotiations website.

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