So you’ve been requested to participate in an evaluation panel for a procurement project… what happens next and what is your role in the process?
Typically an evaluation panel comprises a chairperson with the support of a small group of staff from within the organisation. It’s advisable for a panel to have three members for small projects and up to six or seven where there is high complexity, risk or value. The experience represented in the panel can range from senior executives to operational staff each bringing their own important perspective as a potential user of the solution. The key is that the group has the collective experience to be able to identify the best outcome.
The normal activities that the evaluation panel are involved in include:
Reviewing and agreeing the statement of requirement and the corresponding evaluation plan prior to release of the tender to the market;
Reviewing and assessing the responses received, which could include testing the products offered (particularly appealing for a catering contract!);
Identifying areas which require clarification in a response from a vendor; and,
Endorsing the recommendations presented in the evaluation report.
Through a series of stages, the evaluation process and panel members will narrow the field of responses and deliver a recommendation.
The roles and responsibilities of an evaluation team are normally explained in the first meeting, following which members are asked to sign a code of conduct. During the process, the evaluation panel will need to declare any conflicts of interest which may arise so that they can be managed. Members will be reminded to respect the confidentiality of commercial information both during and after the process. Above all and throughout the process, a panel member is required to act with honesty and fairness and to make recommendations that are accountable, transparent and supported by the records of the evaluation process.