The guide Overview

Shortlist suppliers

Use shortlisting to ensure that the right suppliers get through to the evaluation stage.

Why it's important

Shortlisting can be used to ensure only suppliers that meet your minimum standards get through to the evaluation stage.

While using shortlisting can help speed up the procurement process, it must not be used to limit competition. You may choose to take all suppliers through to the evaluation stage.

What it means

How many suppliers you choose to shortlist depends on your needs. In general you should aim to evaluate at least 3 or more suppliers.

You can use some or all of these criteria to shortlist interested suppliers:

  • proof of skills and experience
  • accreditation to any technical standards you require
  • evidence of financial standing - for example, the supplier’s turnover and profit margins should be proportionate to the value of the contract

Any criteria you choose must be applied to all suppliers and scored objectively. You can use a rating system such as:

0 Not met or no evidence

1 Partially met

2 Met

3 Exceeded

If, for example, a supplier fails to score a 2 in any criteria you can choose to exclude them.

You can also exclude a supplier if:

  • they can’t start work by the latest start date you gave in your requirements
  • their fees exceed the maximum budget you published with your requirements
  • they are unable to accept your minimum terms and conditions

You should keep a record of how you shortlisted suppliers, along with any emails you send.

You should invite the shortlisted suppliers to take part in further evaluation.

Methods can include:

  • written proposals
  • presentations
  • interviews or tests

You should notify unsuccessful suppliers in writing, explaining why they have not been shortlisted.

Do's and don'ts


  • score suppliers using a clear points system and apply it to all suppliers
  • keep a record of how you shortlisted suppliers, along with any emails you send
  • notify unsuccessful suppliers by email


  • do not use shortlisting to limit competition or favour suppliers you have worked with previously