19th Jun 2010 AUTHOR: Robert Machin

Evaluation Criteria: Ignore Them At Your Peril

Evaluation criteria are frequently used by those responding to tenders as a checklist after the tender response has been written. In fact, they should drive your content development.


  • Evaluation criteria...ignore them at your peril!
  • Use the evaluation criteria to get ingot your client's mind
  • An external consultant evaluator will be clinical in his assessment

Use the evaluation criteria to get inside the mind of your client

Show Me the Money!

Have you ever checked the real estate advertisements, seen a property you loved, in the right area, and then tried to find the price? Perhaps it's going to auction or you need to contact the agent. How frustrating!

While price probably isn't the only criteria - in fact, they tell us we buy homes based on emotion - it is probably the quickest way to determine whether we should make further inquiries or dismiss the property because we simply can't afford it. In other words we have basic evaluation criteria in mind by which we make an assessment to determine whether or not we will proceed to the next step.

The Lesson?

If the property, product or service doesn't meet our basic criteria we don't waste our time and energy pursuing or evaluating the offer.

Similarly with proposals and tenders, no matter how impressive the offer might be, there will always be specific criteria that must be met - especially for government agencies - before the client will entertain further evaluation. How often have you heard: "It was the best proposal but we simply couldn't afford it!"

As someone once remarked: "money isn't the most important thing, but its way ahead of what's in second place!" And, you'll usually find price or "value for money" in the top three evaluation criteria!

The challenge for the Tenderer then, is to make sure you have fully understood the evaluation criteria before putting pen to paper. Depending on how well the evaluation criteria have been written, you may find the theme for your response buried in these criteria. Of course, the evaluation criteria should be read in conjunction with the rest of the tender specification, but ignore them at your peril!

Evaluation criteria are the metrics by which your offer is going to be measured...assessed...evaluated!

Also keep in mind that many organisations use external consultants to help them evaluate tender responses. This means they will be far more clinical in their assessment than someone with whom you have a relationship in the organisation.

So, what's important here is not to rush into responding to all of the tender questions and then try to re-craft your responses to fit the evaluation criteria. Rather, use the evaluation criteria to get into your client's mind. Understood correctly, they will help you identify the client's hot buttons and inform your key themes. Comprehending the evaluation criteria will give you insight into what your client is really trying to achieve through the tendering process and how your offer might best help them to achieve their objectives.

Whether you agree with the evaluation criteria or not, unless you meet them, you will not have place at the table to negotiate change in the future.

The evaluation criteria in any tender specification should be thoroughly understood before commencing your response. Use them to get into the mind of your potential client and let them inform you about what is important to them. Remember, the evaluation criteria are the metrics by which your offer is going to be measured, assessed and evaluated!

robRob Machin is a principal consultant for Tender Success who has successfully managed tender responses for multi-million dollar contracts for more than 25 years. Contact Rob to ensure your next response is a success.