“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” – Isaac Newton
Let’s start with how complex and important the procurement process is. Procurement is one of the backbones of your company’s path to increasing its ROI and keeping its competitive advantage. Once you have defined in your RFP a list of criteria to evaluate the proposals, you can start from there and add the other requirements that you did not include in the RFP. You also have decided how much you are willing to invest in the project. Estimating your budget is key to selecting the most promising proposals. Think first about the value you expect from your project and then decide on how much you are ready to spend to get these results. You can also request a presentation of the most promising proposals. And ask the consultants to comment on their proposals. You might end up changing the order of your top 3 preliminary choices.
The procurement process is too critical to be left to a flat averaging of reviewers’ scores. Amidst this complexity, you should strive for clarity and simplicity. When evaluating proposals of prospective Consulting providers, this principle can’t be more true.
This is a good start, after that you can adjust the scores based on the pitches. Then you can start reviewing the elements that are not in the analysis.
We recommend gathering the team together to build a consensus score. Why do so? Because it’s important to find a consensus with your colleagues. Since you will rarely be the only person involved in a Consulting project, you need to embark the other stakeholders into the evaluation process of the best proposals as well. That’s where actually project management starts.
When you have a diverse team of evaluators, you might end up with different scores. And that can be a problem. Don’t exclude the outliers too quickly. You might learn a thing or two by exploring these proposals and getting the evaluators to explain their choices.
If an evaluator has worked with this particular consulting firm or a similar one, it is very likely that will impact his scoring.
On the other hand, perhaps a reviewer uses the scoring to put a personal agenda into play, a move that can be revealed in building consensus. It is highly recommended to overcome any personal agendas.
By discussing the different scores, you will adjust the grades on each criterion, but also balance the relative weight of each criterion. Each person in the room should have a say in the discussion, to make sure you build a sound consensus.
Finally, a consensus score is more likely to be perceived as fair on the part of potential suppliers, as well as the stakeholders and the employees. It all sounds as if it is more work than a simple matrix of X criteria and Y response, and it is. However, the outcome will be worth it: a workable solution that will help your company win a competitive edge.
In case that none of the proposals matches either your requirements or your budget, do not hesitate to have a second round of discussions with the short-listed companies.
The better the consultants understand your needs, the better they will be able to tailor the solution (scope, timing, team size) to accommodate your requirements.