Working With E-Learning Vendors: Evaluating Responses to Your RFP

In my last post, I gave some tips on what to include in the Request for Proposal (RFP).  Now, let’s look at some tips on how to sift through all of the information you will get back from the vendors.

The best time to think about how you want to evaluate vendors is when you are creating the RFP, so you don’t forget to ask the vendors for something you need.  Depending on what you asked for, the review process may consist of reading proposals, reviewing demos, listening to presentations, calling references, or even evaluating prototypes created just for you.

It can seem overwhelming to decide which vendor best meets your needs.  Here are tips to help with your process:

Decide who should be involved in the selection process.

Ask the following questions to find out who should be involved:

  • Do you want an end-user to review the demo?
  • Do you want an IT representative to confirm the technical details and ask any follow-on questions?
  • Do you want the legal department to review the terms and even the courseware?
  • Is there anyone else who might need to be involved?

Determine your selection criteria and rank them.

  1. Create “must-have”, “should-have”, and “nice-to-have” criteria.  Or, create a point system (a sample of a point system is shown below for off-the-shelf content) with the criteria and the points you have given for each.  This tells you which criteria is most important and can help you find the vendor that best meets needs.
  2. Create a spreadsheet or chart to evaluate each vendor according to the criteria.
  3. Find the top-rated vendor (Vendor A, in our spreadsheet below), and start to work with that vendor.

Sample Evaluation Spreadsheet for Off-the-Shelf Content

Criteria Possible Points Vendor A Vendor B
Course Offerings 150 100 150
Course Quality 200 175 130
LMS Capabilities 100 75 75
Company Stability 125 75 100
Project Management Ability 50 50 40
Customer Service 100 100 80
Technical Support 75 75 40
Price 200 175 100
TOTAL 1000 825 715

Sometimes using this type of evaluation makes one vendor stand out as the obvious choice.  The most difficult part of this process, however, is if you have several vendors with similar point totals or “must have” criteria.  If this is the case, you may find it helpful to look at the top three criteria and see who wins on those, re-rank the criteria, or even add criteria.

What tips do you have to help select a vendor out of the many responses you receive from an RFP?

Desiree Pinder
Artisan E-Learning

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