What is a Request for Capabilites?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Often referred to as an RFC, a request for capabilities is a strategy that allows businesses and other types of organizations to invite vendors to submit proposals for products that the company is interested in acquiring. Generally, the request for capabilities will outline not only the type of products that are desired, but also the uses and applications that the company intends for the final choice of product.

RFCs are an excellent means of focusing the efforts to acquire desired business products, in that only vendors who provide the type of products that the company is seeking will be allowed to submit a proposal. Often, requests for capabilities are organized in a manner that dictates the standards that a vendor must meet in order to participate in the proposal process, and often will specify a specific format that must be used as part of the participation.

By controlling the structure of the responses to the request for capabilities, it is much easier for a company to evaluate each qualified vendor on the individual points contained within the document. Failure to comply with the terms of the request for capabilities, such as choosing to reorganize sections to the satisfaction of the vendor, demonstrate an inability to respond to queries in an efficient and capable manner, and often will lead to disqualifying the vendor from the consideration phase of the process.


The point of a request for capabilities is to determine which products on the market will meet the needs and desires in regard to some segment of the operational process. A request for capabilities may be issued for just about any type of product that is considered a major purchase. Typically, a company may choose to issue a request for capabilities for such high ticket items as customized operational or accounting software designs, equipment such as computer work stations, network servers, fax machines for multiple departments or locations, and printing devices.

From the perspective of vendors, receiving a request for capabilities represents an opportunity to secure a lucrative working relationship with a client, by responding to each point or concern presented in the capabilities request. Vendors who are willing to work within the perimeters set by the document, and perhaps find ways to add a few extra advantages that go above and beyond the stated needs and desires of the company in the right sections, will often become the vendor of choice.


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