One of the most popular discussions in this group is the use of scorecards in terms of managing supplier relationships. What we find is that they can raise as many questions as they answer.

For me, one of the big ones (which emerged recently when we conducted a pitch audit) is whether scorecards should be an integral part of the tender process before a relationship is even established.

Secondly, if clients do use them in this way, what should be on them? And should each side be allowed to have different criteria? Finally, should they be shared ahead of time?

Our work has shown that in 80% of cases clients are indeed employing scorecards as an important evaluation tool during tendering. But it seems to me that, if used without care, they can be seen as attempting to put a rational veneer on what is often an emotional decision.

Unless you allow for the less tangible factors which often contribute to a successful client/supplier relationship, they are just tick-box exercises, there to justify the decisions. You can have 145 criteria that a supplier scores highly on and still get it badly wrong.

Experience has also shown us that each side should have its own scorecard criteria. You will rate the service provider on factors such as quality of work, attitude, and execution, etc. But for the supplier, the important elements will include clarity of brief, consolidated feedback, clear chain of command and decision-making.

Finally, we see little point in not sharing them in advance. Otherwise it becomes slightly ridiculous for the prospective supplier — rather like sitting an exam and not knowing what you are being marked on.

What do you think?

  • Do you use scorecards during the tender process?
  • If so, what’s on them? Are suppliers allowed to use their own scorecards?
  • Do you share them ahead of time?