What is a Proposal Evaluation?

Carol Francois

A proposal evaluation is a five-step process used to provide a balanced, impartial review of a formal business proposal. This type of process is most commonly found in procurement or contract management departments of large organizations or corporations. The primary purpose of a proposal evaluation is to ensure a fair and transparent process is used to select the winning submission. This is very important, because proposals are often required for expensive projects or expenditures.

Proposals are evaluated by organizational teams to ensure that all aspects of the RFP have been addressed.
Proposals are evaluated by organizational teams to ensure that all aspects of the RFP have been addressed.

The five steps used in proposal evaluation are: form a team to review submissions, ensure compliance with submission requirements, review responses against details of the tender document, assign a weight to each category and score each submission. The proposal with the highest score is the successful bidder. Once the selection is made, all companies that submitted a proposal are informed of the results. Unsuccessful companies have the right to file a lawsuit if they feel the process was biased or broke contract law.

The first step in a proposal evaluation process is to form an internal team that will be responsible for reviewing submissions. Membership on the team should be based on expertise in the relevant process, related experience and a firm understanding of the procurement process. In some organizations, this team is involved in creating the request for proposal (RFP) or tender document that is distributed to potential suppliers. Other businesses might decide that having two separate teams removes the possibility for conflict of interest and interference with the final selection.

Typically, a procurement officer or RFP coordinator reviews all the submissions to ensure complete compliance with all requirements. This is purely an administrative check to ensure that all bids were received before the deadline, any required payment was processed and that no pages or documents are missing. Once this check is complete, copies of the proposals are made for each member of the evaluation team.

The team members start on the new stage of the proposal evaluation by reviewing each individual response and comparing it to the RFP or specification document. The purpose of the review is to determine whether the proposal addresses all of the items in the RFP. Items that are missing are sometimes reported to the RFP coordinator, who follows up with the company to check whether the omission is a clerical error, but in many cases, no follow-up is done.

Depending on the structure of the team, a weight is assigned to each section of the RFP. Some companies make these decisions as a group, and others allow each team member to make an independent judgment. The total weight must add up to 100, and the categories must be based on the actual RFP requirements. Although some companies assign weight to the quality of the actual submission, many do not, because this essentially awards points for submitting a proposal.

The last stage of the proposal evaluation is to assign a score. Each team member makes an independent decision and submits his or her scorecard to the RFP coordinator, who then totals the responses and determines the successful proposal. This entire process should be transparent and defensible in a court of law as unbiased and fair.

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