How to Make Procurements Less Painful

One of our clients recently asked us to give them some lessons learned and recommendations on how to make their procurements less painful. We’ve worked with this client on their procurements for a very long time, so we have a unique view of their work. We got our team together to brainstorm and identify the themes that were similar across projects and would improve their procurements in the future.

We noticed the following recurring issues that can lead to confusion and unclear responses:

  • Consolidate the information requirements in a single section of the RFP. Spreading requirements out from section to section leads to missed requirements and makes it more challenging for evaluators to find the information they need. Checklists and requirement matrices are especially helpful to vendors as they gather the information they need to provide you with everything you require.
  • Group requirements by category. Grouping by category helps the evaluators and the vendor prioritize and organize requirements.
  • Differentiate contract requirements from response requirements. This helps vendors focus on the information required for response to the procurement and distinguish those from the requirements for the scope of work.
  • Be transparent about budget constraints. While stating the budget can introduce the risk of price inflation, transparency allows vendors to tell you exactly what they are able to do within the stated budget and prevents them from proposing solutions that are not possible within your budget. Transparency is especially important for agencies with restrictive best and final offer policies, which can prevent agencies from negotiating after receiving cost proposals.
  • Score your highest priorities. Scoring every requirement and using complicated formulas can produce unexpected results, such as diluting your highest priorities. Consider scoring lower priority requirements on a pass or fail basis and focus on scoring responses or requirements most important to you.
  • Provide flexibility in oral presentation scoring. Because oral presentations can clarify the technical proposal, allow the evaluation committee to revise technical scoring after oral presentations and document their reasons for the changes.
  • Consider a value-based evaluation for the cost proposal or add cost proposal questions. This allows your team to evaluate for value and identify issues from previous contracts related to low cost and corresponding low value.

Minimize limiting RFP language.Avoid painting your agency into a corner. For example, change language dictating an award to the highest scorer to language referring to scores as a tool that will inform the team’s decision.