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Roadmap to better evaluator relationships

November 12, 2019 | Lindsay Kroes

better evaluator relationships with people meeting to discuss

The third instalment of our series on the 2019 State of the RFP. 

No procurement team is an island; in fact, procurement teams act more like bridges between their organizations’ internal departments and external vendors, helping both parties accomplish their goals.

New research from the 2019 State of the RFP underscores the collaborative nature of the job. Using first-party data from the Bonfire Strategic Sourcing platform, the study finds that for every buyer in an organization, there are 12 evaluators and 23 vendors on average.

The relationship between procurement teams and their evaluators is paramount to the success of your procurement decisions. Use these insights from the State of the RFP to work better together with evaluators, for a smoother RFP evaluation process and better outcomes.

Right-size your RFP evaluation group

The number of evaluators involved in an RFP depends on the scope of the project. However, the average RFP project includes three to four evaluators. This is consistent with the best practice of including a minimum of three evaluators.

Healthcare organizations include the highest number of evaluators per project, with five evaluators, while K12 school districts include the fewest, with two to three on average.

Average number of evaluations per RFP graph


Cut down on evaluator workload with evaluation groups

Evaluation groups allow you to segment proposal information into different groups. For example, separate Pricing for you to review on the procurement team, Technical Requirements to be reviewed by IT, and Experience or History of Past Work to be reviewed by the end user team.

Structuring the evaluation this way has a few key benefits:

  • Faster evaluations. With fewer documents to review, evaluators can finish their piece more quickly.
  • Informed scoring. Evaluators are asked to score only the components that they know the most about—resulting in a more informed, educated decision. 
  • Less risk. With proposal documents segmented, procurement can control the process more, reducing the risk of bias and interference.

Average number of evaluation groups per RFP graph

The average RFP evaluation includes two to three evaluation groups—but 5% include more than five!

Ensure everyone’s voice is heard through consensus analysis

Thirty-seven percent of evaluator scores lacked consensus (defined in the study as a <30% difference between any two evaluators’ scores for a given criterion). A further 45% had a ‘soft consensus’ (a difference of 10 – 30% in any two evaluators’ scores for a given criterion).


Average evaluator consensus graph

Evaluator disagreement is not a bad thing, but such high levels indicate a disconnect. Rather than adding scores up and calling it a day, procurement teams should be conducting some form of consensus analysis to identify and resolve significant outlier scores to ensure decisions are made for the right reason—and can be defended.

Procurement teams are not making the final call on a vendor, but they do have an important role to play in moderating the evaluation to:

  • Ensure each evaluator’s opinion is heard and recorded
  • Resolve major scoring discrepancies due to misunderstanding or missing information
  • Reduce subjectivity and bias

Provide a seamless online scoring experience

With each vendor proposal coming in at 116 pages on average, the typical RFP evaluation process involves the review of nearly 500 pages of vendor documentation within an average evaluation period of 31 days.

When you’re managing the RFP evaluation on paper, that means physically carting binders and boxes of paper to evaluators’ offices. Even if you’re sending proposal information by email, that’s a lot of copying and pasting of scores, and sending of attachments—and subsequently a lot of opportunity for error.

An online platform for evaluators to log in, review documents, and score proposals in one place is the single biggest investment you can make into better evaluator relationships. It allows evaluators to provide their input without the administrative hassle.

With these tips, you can ensure that the experience of serving on an evaluation committee is not one to be dreaded or avoided, but rather a refreshingly pleasant and productive experience.

For more RFP benchmarks to improve your procurement function, download the 2019 State of the RFP Report.

About the author

Bonfire Blog Author Lindsay Kroes

Lindsay Kroes | Bonfire Interactive