Setting Up a Multi-Category Decision Project

Multi-Category Decision (MCD) projects allow you to run bids that require multiple decisions to be made based on the Vendors' submissions. (For more information, please see our What is a Multi-Category Decision Project and when should I use one? page.)

In this article we will be going over the following:

Overview of the MCD Process

MCD projects can be complex and significantly large, requiring preparation to run successfully. There can be several different components that need to be modified for clarity and for optimal results.

Based on several years of experience creating MCD projects, here is one way our team has found to create an easily-managed MCD project:

Start by creating a blank Strategic Sourcing Project. On your Create Project Draft page, fill in all fields and check off Multi-Category Decisions.



Next, once your project draft has been created, add in your Evaluation Groups.



Next, input all of your Requested Information for all project and decision categories. We'll assign the documents to their appropriate categories in a later step.



Finally, add in your Reviewers. All reviewers who should score mandatory or common criteria should be added at this point.


Project Setup

If you are creating your project from scratch, you will first need to specify that this project is a MCD project. Check off the Multi-Category Decisions check box from the project creation modal.


NOTE: While you can edit the schedule at any time for Multi-Category Decision Projects, please note that Multi-Category Decision projects cannot be reopened.

You can also add the MCD feature to a Project created previously, by clicking on the Actions tab on the Project Details page, and selecting Edit Project. Doing so will open up a very similar window that will allow you to toggle Multi-Category Decisions on (as seen above).


Once you have toggled this feature on, you will see the Multi-Category Decisions section appear on your Project Details page.


You can then move on to setting up the foundation for your MCD project, the Categories and Decisions. Let's use a construction bid as an example. In this project, we will need to decide which vendors are going to provide a) which services at b) which locations.

Creating Your Categories

Categories are the different collections of services or items that your Vendors will be bidding on. You can set up a maximum of two categories.

To set up these categories, click Multi-Category Decisions in the left sidebar to load the section, and then click Create Category:


This modal will open up and you can input your Category:


You can then click the Actions dropdown menu that appears under the Category and select Add [your category name] to begin creating the tags for each of the services for the project.


A modal will open up where you can input your Category Items:


Once you add all your Category Items, they will appear under the appropriate Category. In this example, this project is being set up to accept bids for different types of construction work on a variety of buildings.


Creating Your Decisions 

Next you will need to click into the Decisions tab and create a Decision that corresponds to each combination of Category Items that you are looking for.

NOTE: Decisions form the basis for Child Projects and must be created prior to the Project's close date. 

Click into the Decisions tab heading and then click Create Decision:


The Create Decision modal will open up, presenting you with a dropdown menu of each Category. Select the combination of Category Items you're looking for to create a Decision, then click Create:


Create a Decision for each combination of items you would like vendors to submit a bid for, and you will end up with something like this:


In this example, we're only looking for Electrical bids for two buildings, whereas we're looking for General Contractors for all three buildings, and Mechanical bids for only the School.


Assigning Your Requested Information to Decisions

Now that all of your Categories and Decisions have been created, you can now assign your Requested Information to the Decisions that you have created. In the example above that means that you'll tell the system which Requested Information your General Contractors will have to submit, which Requested Information your Electrical vendors will submit, which Requested Information your Mechanical vendors will submit, and which Requested Information ALL vendors will have to submit regardless of which type they fall under.

To start, click on the Requested Information section in the left sidebar. If you haven't yet created any Requested Information yet, you can do so by clicking the Manage button. Otherwise click on the Actions -> Edit button that corresponds with the piece of information you wish to assign to a Decision/Decisions.


Either way you will see a modal pop up with more settings for that particular piece of Requested Information. You can then specify which Category/Categories or Category Items that Requested Information slot should be requested for by selecting from the appropriate dropdown menus.

If you tag a specific Category, this creates a requested document slot for each separate decision that is involved with that category. Using the example above, this means that if a vendor applies to provide services for all Buildings, they will be asked to provide that requested document THREE times: once for their School submission, once for their Government submission, and once for their Hospital submission.


If you tag specific Category Items, this creates a Requested Info slot within each Decision that involves the category item that you tag. In the case below where the Mechanical tag is applied, this Mechanical Certification would only be requested from vendors applying to the Mechanical Category Item:


You can also leave your Requested Document untagged to make it a common file across all Decisions. This is mostly used for mandatory information (e.g., company history and contact information) that would only be submitted by a vendor ONCE, regardless of how many decisions or categories they submit for:


Preview of the Vendor Experience

The Vendor's experience of a Multi-Category project is very similar to that of a regular Bonfire project. Your Vendors will have to create an account, log in, and begin the submission by selecting the Decisions they wish to bid on.

NOTE: Your Vendors can choose as many Decisions as they wish at this point.

Bonfire will then automatically compile a list of Requested Documents/Information that relate to the Decisions chosen by the Vendor. In this case, the Vendor chose to submit to the Electrical decision:

If the Vendor chooses to submit to more than one Decision (say, Electrical and General Contractor), their Requested Documents would look like this:

The Vendor would then simply upload their completed documents in to each document slot to finalize their submission. With Multi-Category Decision projects, Bonfire does all the heavy lifting, allowing for an easier and more efficient process for you, your Reviewers and especially your Vendors!

TIP: You can personally test whether your MCD project is set up properly by uploading a sample Internal Submission before opening your Project to Vendors. To do so, set your project to Invite-Only and edit the schedule to Open the Project, then follow the steps on our How do I internally upload vendor submissions into Bonfire? page.

Once the Project Closes

The evaluation process for MCD projects differs slightly from regular projects. Please see our Evaluating a Multi-Category Decision Project page for further instructions!


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