Selecting a vendor

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Here are some issues to consider in evaluating RFP responses:

  • Do all responses reflect an understanding of project requirements?
  • Does the vendor demonstrate an understanding of relevant best practices and standards?
  • Does the vendor already own and have experience with the hardware and software proposed for the project?
  • Does the vendor have the staff (both size and qualifications) for completion of the project, or will new staff need to be hired and trained for this project?
  • Were all questions answered completely and correctly in the context of the RFP?
  • If requested, did the vendor provide samples of work and do they appear to meet the project’s specifications?
  • Will the vendor complete all aspects of the proposed vended services or subcontract out some of the work?
  • Does the vendor facility meet the environmental and security needs outlined in the RFP?
  • Has a dedicated contact been provided?
  • Does the vendor and its response seem professional and well organized?
  • Are the proposed costs reasonable for the services to be provided?

In addition to the questions above, consider the following:

  • Call references provided by the vendor. Some vendors provide the name of previous clients though not necessarily those who would recommend their services. Take the extra hour to call several references and discuss the vendor, the quality of its work, and how well it completed work with another institution.
  • Be cautious of unrealistically low or high bids. Experienced vendors are well aware of each others’ prices. Bids for similar work should be fairly comparable.
  • Beware of any vendor with significantly lower prices than other vendors. A very low bid may indicate a vendor who cuts corners or has failed to understand what is really required to produce the products. Very low prices may also be an indicator of low quality unless the vendor is much larger and more experienced than others (and thus can churn out multiple production shifts), is located somewhere where very low wages are paid (including offshore), or is proposing a completely different solution. Make sure you check the sample work submitted. Caveat emptor!

This information is from Northeast Document Conservation Center Outsourcing and Vendor Relations.