Finding Key Differentiators when Scoring RFP Questions

When running a big RFP, it's very easy to become lost in the vendor and scoring information that is accumulated. SupplierSelect works to develop new tools to help manage this information. A recently developed report helps to drill down to the questions that most differentiate vendors responses.

A strong RFP should ask enough questions to permit the buyer to identify the best vendor for their requirements. How many questions this is depends on the complexity of the good or service being sourced. Many of SupplierSelect's customers issue RFPs with over 500 questions. Answers from all vendors are scored. Each question is assigned a weighting which determines how much it contributes to the total score for each vendor. For a typical RFP this means 8 vendors answer 500 questions. That's 4,000 scored questions. As answers are scored by the buyer SupplierSelect calculates a total weighted scores for each vendor. You can drill down to see total scores by section, subsection and question. However, even given this ability to drill down and the automatic calculation of weighted scores, it can still be difficult to identify the issues that most clearly differentiate the bids from the various vendors. To assist with this, SupplierSelect has developed a new sensitivity analysis report which highlights these key differentiators. The report makes the following assumptions:

  1. The questions given the highest weighting are the most important and contribute the most the final decision
  2. Questions where the all vendors were awarded a similar score don't help to differentiate between vendors

So the report plots all questions as points on a chart with two axes. The Y axis shows the weighting for the question. The X axis plots the Standard Deviation for scores awarded to answers to that question. This allows us to divide the scatter chart into four quadrants:

High Importance, similar scores High Importance, wide range of vendor scores
Low Importance, similar scores Low Importance, wide range of scores

The chart allows you to identify which question is represented by each scatter point by hovering over or clicking that point. Clicking a point drills down to the specific question. Clicking on different sections in the RFP Questionnaire menu filters the search to show only questions in that section.