The most common goal of issuing an RFP is to find the “best” vendor – a vendor that is the most suited to provide the product/service to the RFP-issuing organization. A well-written RFP is responded to by several vendors and these responses should be thoroughly vetted before making a decision. The RFP Response Evaluation & Vendor Selection model is a transparent and collaborative model that helps the evaluation teams to objectively examine the proposals and select the best one with which to move forward.
This model guides organizations through the following steps:
- Assembling the evaluation team
- Evaluating written proposals
- Selecting vendors for presentations/demos
- Final evaluation and selection
This model is intended for project managers, proposal managers and procurement specialists in any organization.
Preparing and issuing RFPs is only half the battle; it is equally important to fairly evaluate the received responses to reach your goals. The standards set for creating the RFPs must extend to the evaluation criteria and the evaluation process (Right Track Associates, n.d.).
While the vendor selection process for smaller projects/commodities is relatively straightforward, reaching consensus and selecting vendors for bigger projects or multifaceted services is more complicated. Because of the high stakes involved, it is crucial to minimize the influence of human emotions and political positioning in vendor selection to arrive at a decision that is of the most value to the organization (Bucki, 2016).
“To ensure the correct vendors are shortlisted, the evaluation process must focus on objective measures of the vendors’ capabilities. Recording and evidencing that the decisions are supported by an auditable trail of supporting information will provide confidence to the key internal stakeholders that the right decision has been made.” (Deloitte, 2013)
Only when the evaluation is bias-free and comprehensive will an organization realize the full benefits of neutrality, integrity, and transparency of the procurement process.
The first step in evaluating RFP responses is assembling an evaluation team. This team then vets all the received responses using the evaluation criteria set when creating the RFP. The vendors that submitted the best written proposal will then be invited for presentations/demos. After this phase, the evaluation team assesses the proposals and the presentations/demos to determine who is awarded the bid.
Assemble evaluation team
- NOODLE/COMMENT: Identify representatives from each of the listed departments to be part of the evaluation team.
- DISCUSS COMMENTS and identify the best-suited representatives.
Evaluate how well each proposal meets the requirements
- RATE: Rate to which degree each proposal and vendor meets each requirement.
- DISCUSS RESULTS and review alignment.
Select vendors for presentations/demos
- RATE: Based on the written proposals, how interested are you in the demo/presentation of each vendor.
- DISCUSS RESULTS and invite those vendors whose presentations/demos the team is interested to see.
- RATE: Rate each vendor based on the written proposal and presentation/demo.
2. DISCUSS RESULTS and decide as a team which vendor should be awarded the bid.
- Unbiased selection of the best vendor
- Audit trail of the team’s ratings
BENEFITS & IMPACT
This exercise will enable:
Quality – Effectively select the best vendor through a transparent and bias-free process.
Efficiency – Use your organizations’ limited resources efficiently by having stakeholders participate in the process only when they are required to.
Engagement – Engage (synchronously or asynchronously) a diverse set of relevant stakeholders to make the selection process comprehensive and thorough.
Agility – Quickly bring all relevant stakeholders on the same page through consistent criteria and rating scales.
Right Track Associates. (n.d.). How to Evaluate Responses to a Project Request for Proposal. ITtoolkit. https://www.ittoolkit.com/how-to-it/projects/rfp-process.html
Bucki, J. (2016). How to Evaluate a Vendor in 6 Easy Steps. The Balance. https://www.thebalance.com/proposal-evaluation-and-vendor-selection-2533818
Deloitte. (2013). The Outsourcing Handbook: A Guide to Outsourcing. London: The Creative Studio at Deloitte. https://www.deloitte.co.uk/makeconnections/assets/pdf/the-outsourcing-handbook-a-guide-to-outsourcing.pdf