How is your tender or proposal evaluated?

Understanding how tender scoring systems work

You can write better proposals or tender responses if you know how they will be scored. When a client assesses or evaluates a tender response or proposal they develop a scoring system for each criteria. An unbiased tender evaluation requires an appropriate scale to be chosen and an objective method used to give the score.

Usually each mandatory criterion or requirement is assessed first to make sure that the proposal complies with the minimum requirements. If you fail to meet one of the mandatory criteria your proposal will be rejected. After the “mandatories” are passed the desirable criteria are then assessed, scored and the totals added up (sometimes using a weighting system) to give an overall score.

Each criterion is assessed independently of the others, sometimes by different teams (hence it is important to repeat relevant information in the sections of the document). This means that there is no bias and that each criterion’s score is not influenced by other aspects of the tender.

Tender assessors will use one of several scoring scales in the tender evaluation depending on the nature of the project and how much information is used. Although the scoring scales vary it is important to understand that you will lose ground if you don’t provide strong answers and good corroboration or evidence. Here are a few of the tender scoring systems used in tender evaluation.

The Simple Scale—1 to 5 for tender evaluation

Sometimes a scale of 1 to 5 is used in the tender evaluation. Usually 1 represents non-compliance and 5 means exceeding requirements. It is used where compliance is absolute and perhaps not critical to success. That is proposals with less than full compliance are not penalised heavily and value-adding is not required.

1 point          NON-COMPLIANCE—does not meet the requirement

2 points         PARTIAL-COMPLIANCE—will only meet the requirement if significantly changed or improved

3 points         ALMOST-COMPLIANCE—only just meets the requirement and requires minor changes

4 points         BASIC-COMPLIANCE—meets the requirement except in marginal aspects

5 points         FULL COMPLIANCE—meets or exceeds the requirement in all respects

The Decile Scale—0 to 10 for tender evaluation

A wider range of scores is appropriate in a tender evaluation when there are fine degrees of difference between each tender. A scale from 1 to 10 provides greater scope to show differences between proposals. It rewards compliance and excellence and takes into account the weight of proof (which helps reduce the risk in the decision).

0           NON-COMPLIANCE—does not meet requirements in any respect and includes unsubstantiated claims about capability

1 – 2       UNSATISFACTORY—does not meet minimum requirements or is not adequately substantiated

3 – 4       MARGINAL—contains deficiencies that prevent full compliance with requirements

5 – 6       SATISFACTORY—contains minor deficiencies preventing full compliance

7           FULL COMPLIANCE—adequate and substantiated response to requirements

8           EXCEEDS COMPLIANCE—very satisfactory and well-substantiated response to requirements

9           SIGNIFICANTLY EXCEEDS COMPLIANCE—Excellent response that surpasses all requirements and is fully substantiated

10          OUTSTANDING COMPLIANCE—significantly exceeds the requirements, for example, by providing a new solution

The Percentage Scale—1 to 100 for tender evaluation

Another method of scoring tenders uses a scale from 1 to 100. It is similar to the 1 to 10 scoring system but allows a more nuanced assessment if necessary.

<60        Fails to meet the requirements—may reject this proposal

60-69      Meets requirements, but only just satisfactory for this criteria

70-79      Meets a number of the requirements of ideal proposal

80-89      Meets many of the requirements of ideal proposal

90-99     Meets most requirements of ideal proposal

100        Meets all requirements of an ideal proposal

Weighting the scores

There are different ways of weighting scores so that more important criteria get a higher value than the less important criteria. The simplest is to apply a multiplier, that is, multiply the score of the most important criteria with a high number and the least important with a low number before adding them up. We will look at weighting in a different post soon.