Using Pricing Tables
Pricing tables can be used to request specific pricing information for requested items in a way that is easy to export. They tend to work best when prcing can be set up in an "apples-to-apples" fashion.
There are 3 types of pricing tables you can use in a request. Standard, Advanced, and Spreadsheet. We'll look at how to add a pricing table to your request and then how each type of table works so you can decide which type of table will be the best fit for your request.
Adding a Pricing Table
The Pricing Table option is found in the Setup step of a request. Clicking the Include a Pricing Table checkbox will add the Pricing Table step to your request which can be found in the left-hand menu. It will also show the weight option displayed here. This will affect the scoring weight between the questionnaire in its entirety and the pricing table. In the image shown the weights are evenly split, however, if your questions are just about clerical information that has no influence in the final decision you might give the pricing table 100% of the scoring weight.
Pricing Table Settings
Once you get to the Pricing Table step, you will have a few options. The Pricing Table Configuration button will allow you to select the type of table you would like to use. Each of these types of tables has various options which will be covered in their respective sections.
Note: Pricing Table Configuration is where you will also find the button to remove the pricing table step entirely. The checkbox on the Setup step will be disabled to prevent users from accidentally deleting all of the work that may have been done to set up the table.
The Standard pricing table is the default selection for pricing tables and is the simplest option available. Standard tables have limited options, but are ideal for requests that don't have very many line items and don't require a lot of information about those items beyond the price. You can build your table in the browser or you can import a spreadsheet if you prefer to build the table offline. The template you upload should follow the same format as is shown in the table. The easiest way to make sure your table is valid is to export the default table with the Export Spreadsheet button and use that file as the basis for your table. The first three columns in your template should be Description, Bid Qty (Bid Quantity), and Cur Price (Current Price). Any columns after that will be added as custom columns.
You also have the option to save a table as a template. If you have a Standard Table setup that you would like to use in multiple requests you can use the Save As Template button to save that table setup. This will make that template available using the All Templates button for quick table setup in other requests.
Let's look at the table itself.
The table will start off with a single blank row and a single blank column. Filling out the Description or Column Name will automatically add a new blank row or column respectively. Likewise, deleting the text from the last row or column will delete it. Because of this, it may be cumbersome to deal with larger tables in a Standard table so it may be easier to export the table and edit it in a spreadsheet to upload it.
In a Standard table each row will start with the same three columns which will be information provided from the buyer:
Description - A description of the items being requested. This is an open text field so any information you need to describe the item you are requesting can be placed here such as serial numbers or unit sizes.
Bid Quantity - A number that indicates the number of items you are requesting.
Current Price - This is an optional field you can use to show how much you are currently paying for an item to use as a comparison to the vendor's answers. As is indicated by the small text label above the field this is a hidden column. Vendors filling out the pricing table will not be able to see this number.
Custom Columns - The rest of the columns in the row will come from the custom columns you create and are meant to be filled out by the vendor.
Each column added to the table will be for the information you want to get from the vendor. There are two options for setting what information should be in each column
Column Description - This is how the column will be labeled. Use this column to tell the vendor what information you are looking for in this column.
Column Type - The drop-down in each column will allow you to set what kind of information this column needs. You can set a column to receive a number, a date, or plain text. User's will be restricted to the type of data that you set when filling out the pricing table. Note: This option is not carried over when importing a pricing table from a spreadsheet and will need to be set manually.
The above image is an example of what you would see if you were to use the advanced pricing table. Similar to the Basic table you can create custom rows and columns with limitations on the type of data they can receive. The advanced table, however, allows for a greater number of read-only columns and rows that can be set by the buyer to provide more detailed information about the requested items. These options make the advanced pricing table more complex to work with so let's look at our options.
To start with, adding rows and columns is done with dedicated buttons, one for rows and one for columns. Once you add a column you will then see the Column Configuration section which allows you to configure the selected column. The most important option in this section is the Completed By field which allows you to set whether the column is completed by the Buyer or the Vendor. This will also change what options are available for that field.
Buyer columns will be used by the buyer to provide information about the requested items in the pricing table. This commonly includes the name or serial number of an item as well as the quantity being requested. These columns are open text fields and you may add as many as you require to create a table that provides all the information vendors will need to create a response to the request. The Name field will be the header for the column and how it is labeled in the pricing table. Finally, the View for vendors dropdown allows for the inclusion of fields that are hidden from vendors. Similar to the Current Price field in the Basic table, hidden columns allow buyer to add information to the pricing table that can be used as a point of comparison when evaluating a vendor's pricing table response.
Vendor columns will be used by vendors to provide the requested information by the buyer in the pricing grid. Again, the column will be labeled in the pricing table using the Name field. Similar to the Basic table the type of data the column accepts can be restricted using the Type field. The three types available are Text (the default), Number, and Date. Cells in the selected column will have their inputs restricted to the selected type.
By default, vendor columns will "require" input in each cell. We say "require" in that if a vendor leaves a cell in a required column blank they can still submit their bid with the pricing table containing those blank cells. However, if they attempt to do so they will be shown a warning on the bid review screen informing them that their pricing table is incomplete. They can then confirm that they are ok with this to override the warning and submit anyway. By selecting Allow all cells to be blank, vendors will be able to leave any number of cells in the column blank without running into this warning.
Rows can also be set to be read-only. Selecting a row will bring up some additional options under the column configuration as pictured above. You can also select the checkboxes on the far left of the rows to select multiple rows. By using the Set rows read-only and Set rows editable buttons you can toggle the editability of entire rows. This can be useful for creating dividing rows to give better structure to your advanced pricing tables or for providing additional written context inside the table.
The option to export/import a pricing table here also exists. Similar to a Basic table, it should be noted that data types and cell formatting are not carried over during the import. These options will have to be manually set once the table is imported.
The Spreadsheet pricing table option is the most advanced option available. This option seeks to replicate the function of a spreadsheet as closely as possible and most functionality that is available in popular spreadsheet editing programs is available here as well including cell/text formatting, data validation, protected cells, and even formulas. The easiest way to utilize these features is to use your spreadsheet editor outside of Vendorful to create your pricing table and then Import from Spreadsheet.
There are two important reasons you might use a Basic or Advanced table over a Spreadsheet style table. One is that Hidden fields are not available in spreadsheet tables. If you want to include something like your current spend on a spreadsheet to use as a comparison you will need to use the other kind of tables to be able to hide that from vendors. The other feature currently not available to Spreadsheet tables is the ability of vendors to export the table to fill out offline. This could make particularly large pricing tables difficult for vendors to complete and should be considered when choosing between Spreadsheet and Advanced tables.
Another difference between Advanced and Spreadsheet tables is how vendor pricing table responses are scored. In the scoring view, Advanced tables are collated into one large table comprised of the entire table from all vendor's responses. By contrast, Spreadsheet Magic Cells allow you to select the most important cells for comparison. Let's look at how these are set up.
Each Magic Cell requires four things. First you much select one of your sheets in the Select a Sheet dropdown. Then select the Row and Column of the column you would like to target. Finally, each Magic Cell requires a Description to be used as a label in the scoring view. Defining Magic Cells allows you to easily score the most important information on your pricing table, while still being able to see their entire answer. For example, a pricing table can ask for the price for 50 items as well as the total price of the bid. By declaring a total price Magic Cell you can directly compare each vendor's total price. The following images show how such a thing would be set up and what it looks like when scoring. Notice in the second screenshot that with Magic Cells present, we only show those cells. Each vendor's full pricing table response can be seen by selecting the vendor in the Choose a Vendor dropdown.