How choosing effective evaluation criteria leads to tender success

How do evaluation criteria impact on the success or failure of a tender process? Independent procurement consultant Naomi Clewsof Naomi Clews Consultancy, demonstrates how tender evaluation criteria can be used to effectively communicate what’s important to your school – and get the best deal

Every tender process starts with a specification and ends with an evaluation. A good tender process should guarantee supply, add value and provide a mechanism for measuring a supplier’s performance over the life of the contract.

Once you have a specification that sets out precisely what the supplier is required to do, you need to determine which supplier has the skills and experience to meet your specification. This is achieved through the use of effective evaluation criteria.

How to design evaluation criteria

  • Each evaluation criterion represents a ratio of the total evaluation criteria, typically 100.
  • Let’s say price and quality are of equal importance: the 100 is split equally – a 50-50 ratio.
  • However, if quality is of greater importance than price then a 30-70 ratio, in favour of quality, may be more appropriate.
  • In some instances, it may be appropriate for price to be 100 and quality to be zero – eg. a mini competition under a framework agreement.

How to use sub criteria
Tender evaluation criteria can be split further; these are known as sub-criteria (SC) – and sub-sub-criteria (SSC) – demonstrated in the example below for the procurement of school catering services.

Evaluation criteria total: 100

Criterion: Price – 30

  • SC: Whole life costs – 80
  • SC: Value add – 10
  • SC: Income generation – 10

Criterion: Quality – 70

  • SC: Service delivery – 60
    • SSC: Sample menus and portion size – 20
    • SSC: Key personnel and training – 20
    • SSC: Implementation and improvement plan – 20
  • SC: Capacity and sustainability – 40
    • SSC: Site visit – 20
    • SSC: Procurement policies and carbon footprint – 10
    • SSC: Equipment energy and efficiency – 5
    • SSC: Strategies for minimising waste – 5
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Note: Sub-criteria (SC) have a total of 100 – this avoids the necessity to place a further weighting on the suppliers’ responses.

Breaking down the evaluation criteria helps you and the supplier understand the importance of each part of the specification to your school. In the above example there are clear expectations on the suppliers to deliver quality and efficiency under the contract.

How to allocate scores
Once you have designed your evaluation criteria, you can decide which scoring mechanism to use. You could use a grade of 0-5, 0-10 or percentages such as: 33%, 66% and 100%. Note that, for each criterion, there must be at least one question.

Regardless of the scoring mechanism used, it is best practice to provide an example of what a ‘model answer’ looks like and share this information with suppliers. Your evaluators will also find it easier and quicker to mark each tender response when using ‘model answers’.

Furthermore, schools may consider providing suppliers with a standard response template. This could be created in an Excel or Word format. I have used standard response templates for many years, for both quality and price. The benefits are the ease with which supplier bids can be scored and the reduction in the information that suppliers are allowed to submit.

And, finally…
Once the evaluation criteria and evaluation process are communicated to suppliers, they must NOT be changed! You must evaluate the bids exactly as stated in the tender documents.

Naomi is an independent, qualified procurement expert (MBA, MCIPs). Naomi Clews Consultancy provides advice and training to schools on saving money, contract management and developing suppliers.

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