How to Do an RFP Comparison Matrix

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Before hiring, make sure you've approved the best proposal.
Before hiring, make sure you've approved the best proposal. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

After putting out a request for proposals, you must compare all the proposals you receive based on a careful evaluation of each. A complicated undertaking, this process can be made more complex if there are several people involved in the decision. A matrix can help you evaluate the proposals generated by your RFP.

Gather all the proposals. Remove the consultants' names and company names wherever they appear. Instead, number each proposal. This will provide a useful shorthand to refer to each proposal and will eliminate any bias related to a particular consultant. Place these numbers as labels in the columns of the matrix, along the top.

Determine criteria to assess the proposals. The RFP likely listed several elements consultants had to include in their proposals, e.g., budget and time line. List these criteria in the rows of the matrix, down the left side. Include all the criteria in the RFP without exclusion; otherwise, you could bias the results of the evaluation.

Include additional criteria that are useful to consider but were not in the RFP. For example, the quality of the proposal in terms of writing and layout could indicate the consultant’s overall writing ability. Another possible criterion could be the type of feedback received from references. Be careful not to add criteria related to the substantive content. The consultant would not know of this criterion when writing the proposal, so you cannot judge her by it. Your additional criteria should relate to the capacity and capability of the consultant to complete the work.

Rate how adequately each proposal addresses each criterion. A 1-to-5 scale is often useful to provide a ranking when multiple reviewers are evaluating proposals. While one reviewer’s 2 may be another reviewer’s 3, this ranking process will help highlight the best proposals. When only a couple of candidates remain, you may initiate the conversation with your peers about which to hire.

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