When drafting the specification for the goods or services required, the specification describes what it is that you wish to purchase. The separate elements of the specification form the basis of the tender submission and of the assessment process carried out by the project team. It is important, therefore, that these elements can be objectively assessed so that when carrying out the evaluation process, it can be completed in a fair and open manner.
There are specific legislative requirements regarding the use of the initial selection criteria and then when evaluating the bid submissions against the published award criteria. Both the selection and award criteria must be published in, where appropriate the advertised contract notice, and in the quotation/tender documentation.
Thus, when determining the questions to ask in, for example, the selection questionnaire or the tender documentation, ask yourself ‘How will I assess the information received from the tenderers'’. There is a requirement to ensure that a reasonably well informed and diligent tenderer can understand what information they are required to supply and how you are going to assess that information. Therefore its important to make it clear what their tender proposals are supposed to cover and to publish the evaluation methodology you are going to use to assess their tenders.
It is common to use a scoring system such ‘5 points for excellent’, ‘4 points for good’, ‘3 points for satisfactory’ etc. Its important that you detail any methodology and that this methodology includes some description of what a bidder would have to do to achieve ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’ etc.
Sometimes when drafting criteria, there will be those that are essential (sometimes termed critical or mandatory) and must be met, otherwise the submission will be excluded without further consideration. Any essential criteria should be clearly marked and assessed.
There is more guidance on the practical aspects of evaluating tenders, a sample scoring system and a comprehensive Guide to Evaluation of Tenders.