A guide to RFP evaluation criteria: Basics, tips and examples (2022)

When issuing an RFP, it’s important to create your RFP evaluation criteria early. In fact, it should be one of the very first steps in your RFP process. An RFP without evaluation criteria is like a ship without a rudder ⁠— it may eventually get to the destination, but the trip there will be meandering, time consuming and difficult. Clearly defining your RFP evaluation criteria gives your procurement project focus and direction.

In this blog, I’ll explore everything you need to know about RFP evaluation criteria. To start, I’ll provide an overview of the basics including the definition, strategies for organizing RFP criteria and a few real-world examples. Then, you’ll learn how to establish customized RFP criteria as a part of your RFP process. Finally, I’ll offer some best practices and tips to help you get started.

What is RFP evaluation criteria?

  • Ways to organize your RFP evaluation criteria
  • RFP evaluation criteria examples

How to write RFP evaluation criteria

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Best practices for using RFP evaluation criteria

What is RFP evaluation criteria?

Request for proposal (RFP) evaluation criteria is a set of standards that guide the scoring of vendor proposals. When put into practice, your RFP evaluation criteria standardizes scoring and removes subjectivity from the process. Proposal issuers use criteria to organize the proposal evaluation process and select the right vendor for their procurement projects.

Generally, both internal and external teams receive the RFP evaluation criteria. Specifically, vendors review scoring criteria as a part of the RFP documentation. And, your internal stakeholders who will participate in RFP scoring use it as a reference document.

In addition to improving confidence in vendor selection, having clear evaluation criteria sets expectations, ensures high-quality RFP responses and delivers fairness and transparency to the process. Indeed, scoring guidelines help to guide vendors to focus on the issues and areas of the RFP that are most important to you.

Ways to organize your RFP evaluation criteria

As you might expect, the evaluation criteria will vary depending on the project at hand. So, you can create a standard RFP evaluation scoring guide, but you will need to use it as a template and update it for each project.

Simple evaluation criteria

The most straightforward approach to RFP evaluation criteria is a simple list. If your RFP project is a low-risk, simple purchase, you may not need to develop a complicated scoring system.

In this case, note your highest priority factors along with minor considerations in the introduction and background section of your RFP. Then, when you’re ready to score the proposals, remind your evaluators of the stated criteria. Finally, verify your results by comparing your selected supplier’s responses to the criteria.

RFP evaluation criteria matrix

One of the most popular ways to organize your scoring data is in an RFP evaluation criteria matrix. Often created in a spreadsheet, it can be as simple or complex as needed.

For example, a simple matrix lists criteria on the left hand side with the potential vendors along the top, allowing scorers to broadly evaluate and compare options. On the other hand, a detailed matrix breaks down scoring to the question level. This enables you to focus on detailed components and nuanced responses. Typically, strategic sourcing projects use detailed evaluation criteria matrixes.


RFP weighted scoring

The weighted scoring approach breaks down your RFP evaluation criteria and assigns a value to each question or section. For example, your RFP criteria may consider questions of technical expertise, capabilities, data security, HR policies and diversity and sustainability. Weighted scoring prioritizes the criteria that are most important to your business by assigning them a point or percentage value. So your weighted scoring criteria may look like this:

  • Technical expertise – 25%
  • Capabilities – 40%
  • Data security – 10%
  • HR policies – 10%
  • Diversity and sustainability – 15%

Want to learn more about weighted scoring? Watch this webinar to learn how to put it into practice.

A note about RFP evaluation: As you can imagine, managing RFP scoring in spreadsheets gets messy quickly. And, when it comes to complex strategic sourcing projects with more than three vendors, manual evaluation is time consuming. Consequently, the cost of procurement increases.

For many procurement teams, RFP software provides a solution. An RFP management system delivers efficiency with digital proposal responses, RFP automation and collaborative scoring.

RFP evaluation criteria examples

Admittedly, unless you see it in action, RFP evaluation criteria is hard to picture. So, the best way to understand it is to see it in practice. Below are examples of how evaluation criteria appears in an RFP.

Simple RFP criteria example – RFP for marketing services

The goal of this RFP is to find the best service provider for marketing services. In the RFP, the evaluation criteria appear in a simple bullet-pointed list.A guide to RFP evaluation criteria: Basics, tips and examples (1)

Basic weighted scoring criteria example – RFP for employee benefits

This RFP evaluation criteria example is both weighted and fairly simple. Results are broken down into three main categories: experience, approach and budget.

A guide to RFP evaluation criteria: Basics, tips and examples (2)

Multi-factor RFP evaluation criteria – RFP for data analytics platform

This RFP breaks down the proposal scoring process into four rounds. Interestingly, the first two are pass/fail criteria that are deal breakers. This staggered evaluation helps vendors quickly understand if they will be eligible to win the business.

A guide to RFP evaluation criteria: Basics, tips and examples (3)

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How to write RFP evaluation criteria

1. Determine requirements with stakeholders

The first step in your RFP process, after identifying a need, is to collect information from stakeholders and executives. Consider this your first draft of your RFP requirements discovery process.

To start, gather a list of requirements from those involved. It may help to provide a list of standard criteria for evaluation of RFP to start.

Sample RFP evaluation criteria:

  • Technical capabilities
  • Vendor experience
  • Local vs. global
  • Project approach
  • Total price
  • Customer success practices
  • Reputation and customer references
  • Social policies
  • Data security
  • Terms and conditions

Encourage them to brainstorm without considering budget (we’ll get to that later). Compile your list of possible features and capabilities and note which items were mentioned repeatedly.

2. Define project scope

Next, use your full list of considerations and narrow it down. Categorize each item into one of three categories: must have, nice to have and not needed. Then, use the results to write corresponding RFP questions. For must-have elements, try to ask close-ended questions. This makes objective evaluation easier.

Naturally, questions about these factors will be spread among different sections. So, as you build your RFP be sure to keep track of which are deal-breaker questions.

3. Establish RFP priorities

RFP evaluation is all about give and take. If you can get exactly what you want in one area, but must sacrifice in another how does that impact a vendor’s score? Your RFP criteria should communicate your priorities. The best way to do that is to establish values for the most important sections of your RFP. Often, we see capabilities and experience most heavily weighted. Surprisingly, in most cases, price isn’t the highest priority.

Best practices for RFP evaluation criteria

Be as transparent and upfront as possible

Vendors spend a great deal of time and energy creating proposals. Truly, they want to provide you compelling and relevant responses. However, they need to know what matters most to you. Therefore, the more you can tell them about your needs and priorities, the better responses you’ll get. Include your RFP evaluation criteria in the RFP as well as the weighting you plan to use.

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Don’t deviate from your RFP criteria

Once established, your RFP evaluation criteria should be the foundation and guide to your scoring process. Of course, things happen, so if you need to update your criteria, also make sure vendors are aware.

For example, a vendor offers a service you didn’t consider, but after review believe is necessary. In this case, you should issue a follow up note to the other vendors and give them an opportunity to meet the new requirement. Not only does this give suppliers a fair playing field, but it also ensures you avoid potential risk and compliance issues.

Create an RFP evaluation guide

Some of the complexity of proposal evaluation comes from internal ambiguity around scoring expectations. To solve this challenge, it’s a good idea to create a short guide for your stakeholders to follow when scoring RFPs. Include the original list of considerations along with their assigned priority. If possible, provide explanations or context for subjective questions.

To help you get started, here are three examples of internal documentation for RFP evaluators.

Engage individual stakeholders

As with most complex procurement and strategic sourcing projects, the procurement manager running the RFP, may need help to evaluate vendor proposals. For example, if you are seeking a new employee benefits system, your HR team who will use the system should have input on which of the potential vendors delivers the most value.

I recommend engaging each stakeholder individually rather than as a group. It may seem like more work, but it’s worth it. Here’s why ⁠— in large groups, RFP evaluation tends to be influenced by the loudest voices or strongest opinions. Admittedly, manually scoring individual responses is tricky but automated scoring with an RFP management system makes it fast and easy.

Keep contributors focused

While I recommend individual stakeholder scoring, I also know that adding scorers draws out the RFP timeline. So, how do you strike a balance between involving the right people and a speedy conclusion?

The best way to avoid unnecessary bottlenecks and delays is to keep contributors focused. Consequently, that means only sending them the sections and questions that they need to score. Indeed, assign questions based on their area of expertise. For instance, using the employee benefits example from above, while your IT team may need to review and score the section about the provider’s data security, they don’t need to read responses about the fees involved in 401K accounts.

If you undertake this manually, you can send the questions via spreadsheet and compile the results. Alternatively, RFP software automates this process. Simply assign each section or question to the teams or individuals responsible for evaluating the response and monitor their progress. Then, the system records the scores, compiles and compares them and creates helpful visualizations.

Discuss discrepancies

In RFP evaluation, disagreement is normal. Scorers interpret questions differently and score them based on their own understanding. As you review individual scores, watch for any major discrepancies in evaluator scores. These differences may indicate a question that was unclear or misunderstood by the vendor or evaluator. Collaborate with the scorers and develop an understanding of the reason behind the different scores.

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RFPs are designed to make vendor selection easier. Likewise, establishing RFP scoring criteria simplifies the process. The benefits of creating scoring criteria include keeping stakeholders involved, improving vendor engagement and ensuring transparency. Ultimately, it’s a key element to keep your RFP process running smoothly and efficiently.


How do you write an evaluation criteria? ›

Evaluation Criteria
  1. RELEVANCE is the intervention doing the right things?
  2. COHERENCE how well does the intervention fit?
  3. EFFECTIVENESS is the intervention achieving its objectives?
  4. EFFICIENCY how well are resources being used?
  5. IMPACT what difference does the intervention make?
  6. SUSTAINABILITY will the benefits last?

What is an RFP checklist? ›

A request for proposal (RFP) checklist catalogs the steps, information and documents required to create and complete an RFP.

How should your firm evaluate or assess if you should respond to the RFP? ›

While there's many factors to consider when evaluating and how to respond to an RFP, we've narrowed it down to six critical considerations.
  • Assess Customer Fit. ...
  • Examine the Relationship. ...
  • Consider the Competition. ...
  • Gauge the Proposal Timeline. ...
  • Scope Bid Team Resources. ...
  • Determine the Value of Winning the RFP.
May 11, 2021

How do you compare vendor proposals? ›

How to Evaluate a Vendor in 6 Easy Steps
  1. Preliminary Review of All Vendor Proposals.
  2. Record Business Requirements and Vendor Requirements.
  3. Assign Importance Value for Each Requirement.
  4. Assign a Performance Value for Each Requirement.
  5. Calculate a Total Performance Score.
  6. Select a Winning Vendor.
Jun 3, 2019

What are the 5 criteria of evaluation? ›

The DAC definition of evaluation contains five criteria: relevance, effectiveness efficiency, sustainability and impact.

What are the 4 main criteria when evaluating resources? ›

  • Relevance : the uniqueness of the content and its importance for your needs.
  • Authority : the source of the information.
  • Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information.
  • Purpose : the presence of bias or prejudice.
Oct 3, 2022

What are some examples of criteria? ›

Criteria is defined as the plural form of criterion, the standard by which something is judged or assessed. An example of criteria are the various SAT scores which evaluate a student's potential for a successful educational experience at college.

What are the criteria for selecting a vendor? ›

Vendor Selection Criteria
  • Quality product or service, meeting any technical specifications.
  • Value with reasonable cost and terms.
  • Transportation costs.
  • Discounts for volume and early payment.
  • On-time delivery.
  • Financial strength.
  • Excellent customer references.
  • Customer service.

How do you price a score? ›

Price points shall be calculated based on the following formula: Lowest Total Proposed Cost/Proposer's Total Proposed Cost X Available Price Points = Price Score.

What is a weighting system in procurement? ›

A system of weighting the selection criteria is used to compare tenders and identify the tenderer with the best performance record in terms of time, cost and value for money.

What are three components of an RFP? ›

While there are many different components of an RFP, there are three that rise to the top in terms of importance and overall time benefit -- defining your need, determining your communication strategy and coming up with evaluation criteria.

What is the typical structure of a RFP? ›

The RFP defines the project, for the company that issues it as well as the companies that respond to it. The RFP describes the project, its goals, and the organization that is sponsoring it and outlines the bidding process and contract terms.

What are the steps in the RFP process and explain them? ›

What Are the Standard Steps in the RFP Process?
  1. Establish the project's boundaries. ...
  2. Identify key stakeholders and advisors. ...
  3. Talk to stakeholders and define your project needs.
  4. Write the RFP. ( ...
  5. Create a draft of your scoring criteria. ...
  6. Circulate the RFP. ...
  7. Review responses. ...
  8. Research novel technologies as necessary.
May 10, 2011

What questions do you have about the RFP requirements of the challenge? ›

Questions to Ask Before Starting the RFP Process
  • What is the problem? ...
  • What are your goals for the project, and do they align with the goals of your company? ...
  • What are your requirements? ...
  • What is the scope of the project? ...
  • Does the new solution integrate with existing systems? ...
  • What is your budget? ...
  • What is your timeline?
Jun 14, 2018

What is included in an RFP but not an RFI? ›

RFP means “Request for Proposal.” Unlike the RFI stage, an RFP is the official request for vendors to propose solutions, including detailed proposed pricing.

What is a blind RFP? ›

When an RFP is sent "blind" that generally means that there is very little prequalification of vendors to vet their capabilities beforehand. For many outsourcers this is a problem while for others, they just want to be “on the list”.

What is killer criteria? ›

A serial killer is typically a person who murders three or more people, usually in service of abnormal psychological gratification, with the murders taking place over more than a month and including a significant period of time between them.

What are the 3 stages of vendor selection? ›

In a nutshell it goes like this: A) Define Requirements (What do you expect from the service/product), B) Request for Proposal (Ask potential vendors to respond to your requirements) and finally C) Evaluate Responses and make your choice.

What are the three evaluation criteria? ›

Three standard evaluation criteria will be used: Excellence, Impact and Implementation.

What is a procurement evaluation criteria? ›

The evaluation criteria are how the contracting authority will assess which bidder provides the best response to the requirements. In a very basic procurement it may be enough to ask bidders to confirm that they are able to deliver the specification.

Which criteria is not correct for a good evaluation? ›

Hence, we conclude that Negativeness is not a characteristic of a good evaluation.

What are at least 5 methods you can use to discern which of the many resources found on the Internet are academic level quality? ›

There are six (6) criteria that should be applied when evaluating any Web site: authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage, and appearance. For each criterion, there are several questions to be asked. The more questions you can answer "yes", the more likely the Web site is one of quality. What about the news?

What questions should be asked when evaluating a source? ›

There are four questions to ask when evaluating sources:
  • How well does the source answer the research question?
  • Is the information provided by an expert?
  • Is the source valid?
  • Is there a variety of sources?

What five main questions should you ask yourself to determine whether a source is reliable? ›

Critical questions
  • Who is the creator/author/source/publisher of the information? What are the author's credentials or affiliations?
  • Is the author's expertise related to the subject? Are they an authority on the topic through education, experience, or expertise in the field?
  • Whose voices/viewpoints are not being heard?
Sep 8, 2022

What are 5 types of criteria? ›

9 Types of Criteria
  • Scores. A minimum score on a standard test that is required to be considered for admissions into a university or college. ...
  • Scoring Structure. A structure for scoring. ...
  • Principles. ...
  • Rules. ...
  • Guidelines. ...
  • Requirements. ...
  • Specifications. ...
  • Algorithms.
Jul 28, 2018

What is a good sentence for criteria? ›

We have specific criteria and certain limitations. But it is in virtue of having fought at all that he passes beyond the criteria of the time and becomes one of the great captains of history. It met all our criteria; a stable employment, reasonably priced homes, a state college and a regional hospital.

How do you write a criteria? ›

Your writing should be clear, concise, and specific to the criterion. Try to keep your responses between 60 and 120 words. It may be helpful to brainstorm your response and write down 2 to 3 sentences about how you meet the criterion. Bullet points can also be used to differentiate between examples.

How do you evaluate RFI? ›

Step one: initial checks and reviews
  1. 1) Response quality.
  2. 2) Professionalism.
  3. 3) Cooperation keenness.
  4. 1) Create a list of your critical requirements.
  5. 2) Compare the RFI responses with the list.
  6. 3) Rule out candidates that clearly don't meed the minimum requirements.
  7. 4) Repeat, until you make the final call.
Sep 17, 2018

What is included in an RFP but not an RFI? ›

RFP means “Request for Proposal.” Unlike the RFI stage, an RFP is the official request for vendors to propose solutions, including detailed proposed pricing.

How do you price a score? ›

Price points shall be calculated based on the following formula: Lowest Total Proposed Cost/Proposer's Total Proposed Cost X Available Price Points = Price Score.

What is a blind RFP? ›

When an RFP is sent "blind" that generally means that there is very little prequalification of vendors to vet their capabilities beforehand. For many outsourcers this is a problem while for others, they just want to be “on the list”.

What is the difference between an RFI and an RFP? ›

A request for information (RFI) is used when the owner wants several contractors to provide potential solutions, while a request for proposal (RFP) is used in a bidding process to solicit offers for a project. Knowing when to use each document is key to knowing where the owner is in the buying experience.

How do you answer RFI questions? ›

How to respond to an RFI in 3 steps. With response to RFI, follow the same approach as other questionnaires you respond to on behalf of your organization. Make sure the opportunity is the right fit before you spend time on the RFI response. Comb through the RFI to understand what this organization is looking for.

What is RFI stand for? ›

When a buying organization disseminates a Request for Information (RFI), they are seeking general information about prospective suppliers' capabilities and services/goods. The next phase in the procurement process, involves either a Request for Quotation (RFQ), or a Request for Proposal (RFP).

Which comes first RFQ or RFP? ›

The main difference between RFP and RFQ is that an RFQ is sent when a business already knows what they want to purchase and only needs more information about the price, and an RFP is sent when a business needs more detailed information about the product or service itself.

Which comes first RFI or RFP? ›

An RFP is usually what follows an RFI; in fact, it's rare that a company will go from an RFI to an RFQ (for reasons that will become clear below).

What is the difference between RFP and proposal? ›

RFP: As the name suggests, an RFP is a request for a proposal. RFPs are issued by buyers and published to vendors for a response. Vendors (or suppliers) create proposals in response to RFPs.

What is blind tender? ›

Blind tendering is designed to prevent the unbiased selection of a winning tenderer. Tendering contractors may also be more inclined to submit a tender for projects that are receiving blind tender to award contracts because they think it discourages corruption and favoritism.

How do blind bids work? ›

blind bidding. Blind bidding involves submitting an offer on a home for sale without knowing whether any other bids have been submitted, or the competing offer details. The buyer submitting a blind bid also does not know what price and terms the seller is willing to ultimately accept.

What is blind bidding in procore? ›

Blind bidding is designed to prevent the unbiased selection of a winning bidder. Bidding contractors may also be more inclined to submit a bid for projects that are receiving blind bids to award contracts because they think it discourages corruption and favoritism.


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