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Single-Choice Questions vs. Multiple-Choice Questions vs. Free Text Questions in an RFP


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Asking your suppliers the right questions is key in running a successful RFP. That's why we've created different types of questions that can help you easily 'extract' all the valuable information from your suppliers in an efficient way:

  • Short text: supplier can reply with a free text up to 100 characters;

  • Long text: supplier can reply with a free text up to 1000 characters;

  • Single choice: to be used when you have a small list of options like: list of countries, list of cities, list of certifications, etc and supplier can choose one option;

  • Multiple choice: to be used when you have a small list of options like: list of countries, list of cities, list of certifications, etc and supplier can choose multiple options;

  • Dropdown single choice: to be used when you have a large list of options like: list of countries, list of cities, list of certifications, etc and supplier can choose one option;

  • Dropdown multiple choice: to be used when you have a large list of options like: list of countries, list of cities, list of certifications, etc and supplier can choose multiple options;

  • File upload: when you need your suppliers to upload a document.


Types of questions that help suppliers improve their performance

The main types of questions that are used in RFPs are free text, single and multiple choice.


Below is a short guide for building the right RFP questionnaire:


3 types of RFP questions

  • Free text questions: Suppliers can provide any answer they choose without you forcing them to select from specific options. This is an open-ended question.

  • Single-choice questions: Suppliers can only choose one response from a predetermined list you define. This is a closed-ended question.

  • Multiple-choice questions: Suppliers can choose multiple responses from a predetermined list you define. This is a closed-ended question.

 

When to use each type of question?

  • Free text questions: When you have exploratory questions. When you want your suppliers to suggest alternatives and ideas. When suppliers need to provide examples, study cases, or describe situations.

  • Single-choice questions: When you need structured RFP responses. When you have Yes/No, True/False type of questions, questions with ratings, or nominal scales.

  • Multiple-choice questions: When you need structured RFP responses. When suppliers need to provide a list of options, services, products, etc.

We encourage you to use close-ended questions as much as possible. Here's how you can transform an open-ended question into a close-ended question.

 

Advantages:

  • Free text questions: You get much more detailed information from your suppliers than through other types of questions.

  • Single-choice / Multiple-choice questions: You obtain structured data, which is very easy to compare and analyze. It's easier and faster for suppliers to answer (it's much easier to click a button than to type in a response).

 

Weaknesses:

  • Free text questions: Data is not structured and it's very hard to compare responses. Some suppliers might be discouraged thinking there is too much information to collect and provide. If not asked correctly, you will invite a very general answer that will not have much value.

  • Single-choice questions / Multiple-choice questions: Suppliers can't be creative or offer alternatives or valuable details. If not asked correctly, suppliers won't be able to showcase everything they can offer and they'll be confused.


Keep in mind that you need to always find a balance between:

  • asking a lot of questions (especially open-ended ones), which might discourage suppliers from participating, might create delays, and require a lot of effort to analyze them and,

  • asking too few questions and not having enough information to make the right decision.

If you want to dig deeper into how you can write good RFP questions, check out this blog article.

 

For more tips & tricks on how to launch a successful RFP, download our FREE guide.


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