A Request for Proposal (RFP) process can be intimidating for any project. This is because there’s a lot riding on selecting the correct partner, one who is not only like-minded and aligned to your ways of working, but who can execute on your requirements in a way that is matches your company’s strategic outlook.
After you’ve gone through the effort of putting together a detailed RFP information pack that fully describes the project mission, goals and objectives, the focus needs to shift how you will evaluate each respondent in order to determine the winning bid. At Analyze, we suggest doing this in 3 easy steps:
1. Define your evaluation criteria
Evaluation criteria will differ from project to project. There is no one size fits all. It’s important, therefore, to not make this decision in isolation, but rather to include as many people as possible from different levels and departments in order to create a comprehensive view of what you should be looking for.
This could include, but is not limited to: Costing considerations (both upfront project investment and ongoing operating costs), time to market, vendor experience and expertise, references from other companies within your industry, delivery approach (agile vs waterfall as an example), size and growth plans of the company, capacity to take on new work, and warrantees and support model. This step will give you the evaluation checklist or questionnaire to be completed by each respondent.
2. Assign a priority ranking and associated weighting to each requirement
Using the evaluation checklist created in step one, you now need to assign a priority ranking to each critera in order to separate the must-haves from the nice-to-haves. We like to keep this step very simple by ranking each criteria as high, medium or low:
High: No compromises, this requirement is a must.
Medium: There is some room to flex by looking at alternatives.
Low: You’re open to dropping this item if needed.
Each priority ranking should also get an associated weighting. You can choose how you break your weightings down, as long as your weightings add up to 100 (if using a number) or 100% (if using a percentage) as a general rule.
3. Apply a standard scoring system
A scoring system helps to score your respondents side-by-side based on how well they match each of the evaluation criteria you defined in step one. A 5-point system usually works well, with the following as a rough guide:
5 points: Meets your requirement 100%.
4 points: Some minor gaps, but easily accommodated.
3 points: More moderate gaps and potentially more work needed.
2 points: Only partially meets your requirement, compromise and/or additional effort will be high.
1 point: Does not meet your requirement at all.
An overall score is then derived by multiplying each criteria’s weighting by its individual score before adding those together to get to an overall, weighted score. This score will point you to your top bidder(s), ensuring that your decision is one that’s based on hard facts, and not one based on any gut feel or personal prejudices that may exist.