Guidance

How to shortlist Digital Outcomes and Specialists suppliers

How to reduce the number of suppliers you need to evaluate by shortlisting or ‘sifting’.

Before you can shortlist

After you publish your requirements and evaluation criteria, interested suppliers say:

  • if they can meet your essential skills and experience requirements
  • if they can meet your nice-to-have skills and experience requirements
  • provide evidence for the skills and experience they say they have
  • when they can start work
  • provide their day rate (specialists only)

Suppliers who can’t meet your essential skills and experience requirements are told when they try to apply that they’re not eligible.

Why you need to shortlist

You need to shortlist or ‘sift’ interested suppliers to:

  • ensure the suppliers that best meet your needs progress to the evaluation stage
  • avoid having too many suppliers to evaluate

You don’t have to shortlist suppliers if you want to take them all through to the evaluation stage.

How many suppliers to evaluate

You have to state the maximum number of suppliers you’ll evaluate when you publish your requirements.

You must aim to evaluate 3 or more suppliers. Most buyers find that evaluating up to 10 suppliers is manageable. How many suppliers you choose to evaluate depends on your needs.

If your shortlist is too long and you’ve used all the shortlist criteria, you should take all the top-scoring suppliers through to the evaluation stage. That’s the only time you can exceed the number you set for evaluation.

If only 1 or 2 suppliers meet your requirements, you can just evaluate those suppliers.

How to shortlist interested suppliers

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

  • when the supplier can start work
  • nice-to-have skills and experience
  • day rate (specialists only)
  • proof of skills and experience

Any criteria you choose, for example when the supplier can start work, must be used to score all suppliers.

When the supplier can start work

You can exclude a supplier if they can’t start work by the latest start date you gave in your requirements.

Nice-to-have skills and experience

Order the list of suppliers by those that meet the most of your nice-to-have skills and experience requirements. You can exclude suppliers with the fewest nice-to-have skills and experience to get to the number of suppliers you said you’d evaluate when you published your requirements.

Day rate (specialists only)

You can exclude a specialist if their day rate exceeds the maximum budget you published with your requirements.

If you don’t provide a day rate in your requirements, you won’t be able to exclude specialists that exceed your budget.

If you think the supplier has offered an unusually low day rate, you must ask them to explain their rate. If the supplier’s explanation isn’t good enough, you may need to exclude them. The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 have more information on what to do if you receive an unusually low quote.

How to check a specialist’s day rate

If the supplier provides a new day rate you must email enquiries@digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk to check it doesn’t exceed the maximum day rate they provided when they applied to the framework.

If the new day rate does exceed the one the supplier provided in their framework application, you can exclude them or ask them to reduce it so it’s under their maximum day rate.

Proof of skills and experience

Score the evidence suppliers provide using the scoring scheme. You can’t use half scores. Exclude suppliers who get less than 2 for any essential skill or experience.

Score Description
0 Not met or no evidence
1 Partially met
2 Met
3 Exceeded

Suppliers have been asked to provide one example for each skills and experience requirement. This means you shouldn’t score a supplier down if they only provide one example (unless you specifically asked for several examples in your requirements).

Suppliers have also been told they can reuse examples across different skills and experience requirements. This means you shouldn’t score a supplier down for reusing an example as long as it shows they’re capable of meeting the requirement.

If you said you’d weight individual criteria by adding ‘points’ to each criteria, you can’t use these points to weight evidence of essential and nice-to-have skills and experience at the shortlist stage. You can only use individual criteria weightings at the evaluation stage.

Read more about how to:

How to notify shortlisted suppliers

Unsuccessful suppliers

After you’ve scored supplier responses, you must notify the unsuccessful suppliers by email.

You can send the same email to all suppliers you’re excluding because:

  • they can’t start when you need them to
  • they had the fewest nice-to-have skills and experience
  • they scored less than the suppliers you’re taking through to the evaluation stage
  • their day rate is above the budget you gave in your requirements (specialists only)

You need to send more detailed feedback if you’re excluding a supplier for any other reason.

Template emails for suppliers

In your response to unsuccessful suppliers you could say:

‘[requirements name]’: shortlisting feedback

Dear x,

Thanks for applying to ‘[requirements name]’.

Unfortunately, your application was unsuccessful. The evidence you provided scored x overall. The leading supplier scored x.

OR

Unfortunately, your application was unsuccessful because you couldn’t start work when we needed you to.

OR

Unfortunately, your application was unsuccessful because the day rate you provided was outside our budget (specialists only).

If you have any questions, email us@here.com

Thanks,

[contact and organisation name]

If you send the same email to all the unsuccessful suppliers, make sure you hide their names and email addresses from view.

Successful suppliers

You must email all the shortlisted suppliers with the same information, making sure you hide names and email addresses from view.

Provide suppliers with all the information they need to take part in the assessment stage.

Read about what information you need to provide in the how to evaluate suppliers guide.

Email to suppliers

In your response to successful suppliers you could say:

‘[requirements name]’: shortlisting feedback

Dear x,

Thanks for applying to ‘[requirements name]’.

We’d like to invite you to: [delete as appropriate]

  • an interview
  • give a presentation
  • provide a written proposal

The presentation/interview will be on x at x.

We’ll need to see:

  • further evidence of your skills and experience
  • details of your work history

We’ll need this extra material and evidence by x.

We’ll email you by xx to let you know if you’ve been successful.

If you have any questions, email us@here.com

Thanks,

[contact and organisation name]

You must keep a record of how you shortlisted suppliers, along with any emails you send, for your audit trail.

What happens next

You must evaluate the remaining suppliers using the assessment methods and evaluation criteria you published with your requirements.

Read about:

Published 20 April 2016
Last updated 1 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Clarified guidance about providing feedback to suppliers who aren't shortlisted.
  2. Added information about supplier feedback
  3. If you said you would weight individual criteria by adding ‘points’ to each criteria, then you can’t use these points to weight evidence of essentials and nice-to-have skills and experience at the shortlist stage.
  4. Added content to make it clear that if you don't provide a day rate when you publish your requirements, you won't be able to exclude specialists that exceed your budget.
  5. First published.