6 Tips for Creating Supplier Evaluation Questionnaires

Here are six tips for creating supplier evaluation questionnaires. When it comes to creating supplier evaluation questionnaires, everyone thinks they’re an expert. And with supply management software tools and internet surveys as Survey Monkey and Zoomerang readily available, it’s easy to feel the power. When creating questionnaires or surveys to get supplier performance feedback, they should be clear and easy enough to complete so that they will be readily answered. The following 6 tips apply whether you are doing internal stakeholder satisfaction surveys or are on a supplier site visit.

  1. Keep it short. If the same respondents are going to answer a survey on a regular basis (such as surveying internal stakeholders regarding supplier performance), keep the survey short. If responding is too time-consuming, fewer people will respond. You want to collect more data points in order to get more reliable results. According to a Survey Monkey study, survey completion rates drop the most sharply with every additional question asked up to the first 15 questions. After that, the drop-off rate declines less sharply.
  2. Keep it clear. If you must use buzzwords, jargon or acronyms that people outside of your function or that your suppliers may not understand, be sure to define them. For example, if you use the term SME, respondents may not know whether you mean a small-to-medium enterprise or a subject matter expert.
  3. Don’t lead the witness. Phrase questions in a way that evokes an accurate response and not just a specific response. For example, if you put a supplier on the spot about whether they are Lean, they are likely to try to tell you what you want to hear.
  4. Avoid twofers. That is, don’t ask two questions within the same question. For example, don’t ask whether a supplier is on-time and responsive in one sentence. Break that into two questions
  5. Phrase questions positively rather than negatively, especially when using scaled responses. The scales have to be consistent. So if you use a 1-5 scale, make sure that one end of the scale is consistently positive and the other is consistently negative. Not only will you confuse respondents when you ask whether they “never miss a delivery”. (Is never missing a delivery a high or low score?) But when you tabulate the scores, you may have inaccurate results from respondents who were confused about which end of the scale to score their answer.
  6. Create questions that relate to actionable metrics. Every question asked in a survey should have a corresponding action that can be taken as a result.

For more detailed information, see Chapter 8 in my book, Supplier Evaluation and Performance Excellence. There are sections about creating surveys and considerations for designing supplier surveys.

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