Free-text vs. Single choice vs. Multiple-choice Questions in a RFP

Asking your suppliers the right question is key in running a successful  RFP. That’s why we’ve created 3 types of questions
which can help you easily ‘extract’ all the valuable information from your suppliers in an efficient way: Free-Text; Single
Choice and Multiple Choice Questions.

Bellow is a table to guide you through building the right RFP questionnaire:

Free-Text Question
Single Choice QuestionMultiple Choice Question
What is it?Suppliers can provide any answer they choose without you forcing them to select from specific options. This is an open-ended question.
Suppliers can choose just one response from a predetermined list you define. This is a closed-ended
Suppliers can choose multiple responses from a predetermined list you define. This is a closed-ended
When to use it?When you have exploratory questions. When you want your suppliers suggest with alternatives and ideas. When suppliers need to give examples, study- cases, describe situations.
When you need structured RFP responses. When you have Yes/No, True/False type questions, questions with ratings, or nominal scales.When you need structured RFP responses. When suppliers need to provide a list of options, services, products, etc
Advantages:You get much more detailed information from your suppliers than through other types of questions.You obtain structured data, which is very easy to compare and analyse.
They’re simple. It’s much easier to click a button than to type in a response. Easier and faster for suppliers to answer.
Weaknesses: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 valueSuppliers can’t be creative, offer alternatives or what can be valuable details. If not asked correctly, suppliers might need  more than the choices you provided and they will be confused.

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

  • asking a lot of questions (especially open-ended ones), but which might discourage suppliers participating, might create
    delays, and you putting a lot of effort into analyzing them and,
  • asking too few question, not providing enough information to you to take the right decision

If you want to browse a case study about how you can use the 3 question types depending on your goal please read our article:
‘Same question, 3 different ways of asking your suppliers in a RFP’.


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