The guide 3. Evaluate and award

Evaluate suppliers

Assess the shortlisted suppliers using clear and fair criteria.

Why it's important

The evaluation stage enables you to assess suppliers fairly and decide on a winner. You must evaluate suppliers using the assessment methods and evaluation criteria you published with your requirements.

What it means

The most common way to assess suppliers is against a written proposal describing how they will deliver the outcomes you published. This is often combined with a presentation, allowing you the chance to meet the supplier and ask them questions.

If the supplier is proposing a team it’s important to meet some or all of them during the evaluation stage. This will help you direct technical questions to the right person.

Other assessment methods, such as interviews or tests, might be more appropriate if you’re hiring an individual specialist, for example a software developer.

Make sure that you:

  • ask suppliers to provide information in the same format, whichever method you choose, for example give suppliers a template to fill in so that it’s easier for you to assess them
  • do not look at any suppliers’ proposals until after the deadline

You can ask suppliers questions to clarify their written proposals, but you should not allow them to resubmit proposals with modifications.

Use an evaluation team or panel to score the suppliers. This will help ensure objectivity and reach a consensus.

The team should:

  • include people from across the organisation who will be involved in the use of the product/service
  • include people with a diverse range of skills, experience, genders and backgrounds
  • be aware of your evaluation criteria and requirements and have read the supplier proposals
  • use the scoring system you published with the opportunity and add justifications for their scores

The team should not evaluate suppliers based on:

  • experience of working with a particular supplier
  • personal preferences for a certain technology or brand
  • social background, age or gender

If you evaluate and still can’t find a suitable supplier you don’t have to award a contract. You must tell all remaining suppliers that:

  • you haven’t found one that meets your needs
  • you’re not going to award a contract

You may choose to review what you need and then publish new requirements.

You should keep a record of how you’ve made your decisions, including the evaluation team’s individual and agreed scores, and any communication you have with suppliers.

Do's and don'ts


  • evaluate suppliers using a diverse team made up of people from across your organisation
  • score suppliers against the same criteria you published with the opportunity
  • keep a record of how you have reached your decisions


  • do not choose a supplier based on a personal preference for a certain technology or brand
  • do not allow supplier proposals to be changed or modified during the evaluation stage
  • do not award a contract if there are no suitable suppliers