Proposal Evaluation Techniques

There are several techniques you might use to evaluate proposals. Simple procurements may not need much more than a quick check against the statement of work or a price comparison. Complex procurements may need several rounds of evaluation to begin narrowing the list of sellers. This is where you might use one or more of the following evaluation techniques to get to the final winner.

You can use source selection criteria as one method of rating and scoring proposals. We discussed source selection criteria in Chapter 6. You may recall that this includes several elements such as an understanding of the work, costs, technical capability, risk, warranty, and so on. We'll get into more detail on some of these criteria here. Keep in mind this is an input to the Conduct Procurements process, not a tool and technique, even though you'll be using it as you would a tool and technique.

The types of goods and services you're trying to procure will dictate how detailed your evaluation criteria are. (Of course, if your organization has policies in place for evaluating proposals, then you'll use the format or criteria already established.) The selection of some goods and services might be price driven only. In other words, the bidder with the lowest price will win the bid. This is typical when the items you're buying are widely available.

When you're purchasing goods, you might request a sample from each vendor in order to compare quality (or some other criteria) against your need. For example, perhaps you need a special kind of paper stock for a project you're working on at a bank. This stock must have a watermark, it must have security threads embedded through the paper, and when the paper is used for printing, the ink must not be erasable. You can request samples of stock with these qualities from the vendors and then test them to see whether they'll work for your project.

It's always appropriate to ask the vendor for references, especially when you're hiring contract services. It's difficult to assess the quality of services because it's not a tangible product. References can tell you whether the vendor delivered on time, whether the vendor had the technical capability to perform the work, and whether the vendor's management approach was appropriate when troubles surfaced. Create a list of questions to ask the references before you call.

You can request financial records to assure you—the buyer—that the vendor has the fiscal ability to perform the services they're proposing and that the vendor can purchase whatever equipment is needed to perform the services. If you examine the records of the company and find that it's two steps away from bankruptcy, that company might not be a likely candidate for your project. (Remember those general management skills? Here's another example where they come into play.)

One of the most important criteria is the evaluation of the response itself to determine whether the vendor has a clear understanding of what you're asking them to do or provide. If they missed the mark (remember, they had an opportunity at the bidder conferences to ask clarifying questions) and didn't understand what you were asking them to provide, you'll probably want to rank them very low.

Now you can compare each proposal against the criteria and rate or score each proposal for its ability to meet or fulfill these criteria. This can serve as your first step in eliminating vendors that don't match your criteria. Let's say you received 18 responses to an RFP. After evaluating each one, you discover that six of them don't match all the evaluation criteria. You eliminate those six vendors in this round. The next step is to apply the tools and techniques of this process to further evaluate the remaining 12 potential vendors.

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