Your RFP deadline has passed. You’ve collected submissions from qualified vendors. Congratulations! You’re almost there. But before you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done, you need to complete the scoring stage of the RFP process. And we’ve developed some RFP scoring guidelines to make it easy.
Sifting through a mountain of responses to your RFP can seem like a daunting prospect. Beyond the sheer volume of the information you need to go through, you may also face concerns about transparency or internal conflicts between departments in your organization with differing priorities.
Still, RFP response scoring doesn’t have to be a monumental task. Approaching it in an organized, systematic way can simplify the process. These RFP scoring guidelines help ensure you choose a vendor all your stakeholders can get behind.
Once you’ve written your RFP and gathered responses, it may seem like all the hard work is over. After all, the winning proposal is probably in the stack of responses in front of you. All you have to do is find it.
Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done.
Hopefully, you’ve already involved all stakeholders when developing your RFP, to ensure that your needs are comprehensively covered. But different stakeholders will have different priorities — and those can clash when it comes down to selecting the winning proposal.
We’ve developed these RFP scoring guidelines to help simplify the process by making it transparent, fair, and based on hard numbers. Using this process will help keep the process transparent and ensure buy-in from all your stakeholders.
(Full disclosure: Ideally, some of these steps should be done before your RFP goes out. That said, if that ship has sailed, these steps should still help.)
Forming an RFP Scoring Team is the first step in your scoring process. Make sure to include stakeholders who are already on your RFP team (think members of IT or operations departments that will be affected by this purchase). They’ll already be familiar with your project goals and requirements.
The second — and perhaps the most critical — of our RFP scoring guidelines is to create your scoring matrix.
You’ll use this to determine a vendor’s ability to deliver on your requirements. To create a scoring matrix, work closely with your team to assign a weight to each requirement in your RFP, based on its importance. Assigning a weight in a simple number range (for example, between 1 and 10) provides a quantifiable measurement of the importance of that requirement.
Ideally, we recommend creating this before you issue the RFP so all your stakeholders can sign off beforehand. This avoids dealing with conflicting priorities different departments will have and lets you build an RFP that incorporates their requirements, and a scoring system considers those requirements into consideration. If you work in the public sector (where transparency is essential) the scoring matrix will help demonstrate how you’re grading RFP responses.
Next up, it’s time to create RFP scorecards. Your scoring team will use these during their independent evaluations of the submissions. Keep the design simple — we recommend using a table format.
Create a space for the vendor’s name at the top of the card. Below the name field, include a simple three-column table with your requirements listed in the left-hand column. Scoring team members will input their scores in the middle column, and the far-right column is where you’ll indicate the weight of the requirement you determined earlier in your RFP scoring process.
Once you’ve created your cards, have your RFP scoring team review them. Be sure to go over project requirements and remind your team of your most important requirements.
In this step, also show your team members how to calculate the final vendor scores. You’ll calculate the score of each requirement based on the weight and tally up all requirement totals to determine the vendor’s score.
With scorecards in hand, it’s now time for your team to review the submissions. We strongly recommend that all team members conduct their reviews individually.
This strategy offers a level of transparency into your ultimate vendor selection. Your individual scorecards are part of a transparent, measurable scoring system that provides insight into your final decision. Allowing individual members of your RFP scoring team to rank each vendor independently ensures that every stakeholder’s priorities and agendas are considered.
Once all team members have individually reviewed and scored the RFP responses, your team should collectively evaluate and determine the winning vendor. It’s also wise to do a peer review of scoring card totals to ensure all calculations are accurate.
You’re nearly there! After you’ve selected the winning vendor, the scoring team should present the selection to your company’s executive body for final review and sign-off before contacting the vendor.
In our next post, we’ll show you how to simplify your RFP scoring using multiple choice questions in your RFP. Want more personalized assistance? Contact the team at DirectRFP® for help with all your RFP needs.