Choosing the right partner

Step 3 Shortlist

Once you have received everyone’s written submissions to the RFPs you should compile a shortlist of the best. Key things to look for include; an understanding of your organisation and the issues you are facing; strategic thinking; clear and realistic implementation plans; key performance indicators and measurement tools; detailed costs breakdown; and the expertise and experience of the individual team members.

Depending on the scope of the project and how much time you have to meet with individual firms a shortlist should normally be between 3 and 5 of the best. Reasonable notice should then be given for the in-person presentation.

Some pitches are done over skype or even on the phone perhaps for small projects, however, nothing replaces a face-to-face meeting with your prospective partners. Things can go wrong with the process when key people are not in the room, or if they join by phone or video. For all these reasons and as far as possible, it is important for you to get all the decision-makers from your organisation in the room to see and hear the shortlist firms present their proposal, and interact in a Q&A. When your key colleagues are part of the decision the more likely you are to make the right decision and the less likelihood they will criticise or undermine the selected partner later.