How to Write and Run an Effective Solar Request for Proposal: Part 3

In this blog series, we review the steps needed to write and run an effective request for proposal (RFP) for a solar power installation. In the first two parts, we defined an RFP, the RFP process, roles and responsibilities, how to gather RFP requirements, and the components needed to create an effective RFP document. In part three, we examine ways to evaluate proposals to create a short list of vendors.

Conducting the Initial Evaluation

Because the success of a project is related to its goals, it’s important to evaluate each proposal against those goals. For example, if a primary goal is to complete a project cost-effectively, other goals like a deadline would be given less importance.

Steps to Evaluating Proposals

Once you have gathered all of the submitted proposals, you can start shortlisting qualified vendors, the ones whose proposals can best meet your project goals. You can start this initial evaluation with these steps:

  1. Compare vendors’ strengths against your goals
  2. Remove vendors who are unqualified or cannot meet your needs
  3. Identify factors in the proposals that will allow you to compare shortlisted proposals in greater depth

Working as a Team to Evaluate Proposals

There are several approaches you can employ to review and evaluate proposals with other decision-makers.

  1. If decision-makers understand the qualities of a good proposal, you can assign each of them entire proposals to evaluate. Well-defined and understood evaluation criteria are important to the success of this approach.
  2. Another approach is to assign sections of each proposal to each team member.
  3. A third approach is to have each member review each proposal. While this last option is the most time-consuming, it ensures that each decision-maker understands the options.

Initial Criteria for Evaluating Proposals

Consider the following questions as you evaluate the vendors’ proposals:

  • Is the proposal timely and accurate?
  • How experienced is the vendor, and how financially sound is their company?
  • Will the vendor be able to meet your future needs?
  • Was the vendor recommended to you by someone you trust?
  • Is the vendor certified by a government agency, trade association, or other trusted source?

Following up with shortlisted vendors

Once you’ve created your vendor shortlist, you can begin more in-depth evaluations to identify which vendor will ultimately win the bid. Steps at this stage include:

  • Congratulating vendors on making your shortlist but letting them know the process is still competitive
  • Asking questions to gain more information on how they will satisfy critical goals
  • Creating weighted scoring criteria
  • Arranging to meet with vendors for a presentation or demo

To complete the final evaluation, you really need to understand the differences between the shortlisted vendors’ proposals. Make sure that the vendors explain how their offerings satisfy your needs and differ from those of the competition.


RFPs are an important part of the procurement process because they provide the due diligence businesses require to consider their needs and for vendors to design their solutions. In our fourth RFP blog, we’ll examine how to select a winner, complete a contract, and more.

Next Steps

Developing and running an RFP can be complicated. We can help advise you on the process, from identifying goals to selecting the winning bid. To learn more, contact us for information.