Elance Blog

Elance Work System Part 3: Reviewing Proposals

This is a continuation of the Hands-On With The Elance Work System by Matt Katsaros. To read the previous part, follow this link here: Hands-On With The Elance Work System: Part 2.

Review Process

Within just ten minutes of posting my job, I started to receive proposals (1) and messages from many different providers all over the world, and so my homework begins…

This step is extremely crucial in the process of getting your job completed. It can sometimes mean the difference between just getting it done and getting it done right, so do your research and fully qualify your provider before moving forward.

Since every project is different and has different requirements, what you want to look for in your provider may be a little different than what I may looking for, but there are a few common areas that you should look through. Here are some of the key things I look for in my provider. (For more tips on reviewing provider profiles, check out this blog post - How To Review A Provider Profile.)

It's All In The Details

Let’s start with a big one: Feedback (2). This is where the provider’s past comes back to hail or haunt them. Past employers can leave detailed comments and feedback regarding their experiences with that provider, which in result gives you and any other future employer additional a great amount of context into the provider's work.

Typically, I usually look for providers with about 90% or higher feedback, and I also take an extra minute specifically to look through the negative reviews. I have found that, generally, good reviews are great, but I seem to get more relevant background details when looking at negative reviews under the microscope. (Keep in mind that people do get bad reviews from time to time.) When I read these negative reviews, I try to look for trends among them. For example if employers are all saying  that the provider has scheduling issues, if they change the budget, etc. Take a look and see if you can find any correlating points while surfing through the negative (and on the other hand, positive) feedback scores.

Next, the portfolio (3). While browsing a web designer's profile, I ask myself a few questions when evaluating: Do I like it? How are the aesthetics? Do I like the style? Does my job look like something the provider can handle? Is this the type of thing I'm looking for? After mulling over these questions, I take a long hard look through the portfolio and give it a rating on a 1-10 scale.

Another quick tip: Remember, communication is key. I have done a healthy number of projects on Elance and I have found that the one thing that separates a good project from a great one is solid communication. This means constant messages back and forth in the Workroom, chatting on the Elance chat system, and overall responsiveness. When I am receiving proposals, I tend to test out the provider by sending them messages to see what their responses are like. For this job, I have sent out some personalized messages to the providers I like asking specific questions about their proposal like, “How long exactly will this take you to finish?” or “Have you done a project similar to this before?” This then gives me an idea of how long it takes them to respond (ten minutes or two days) and what kind of response they give (do they answer all of the questions in detail or write two words to respond?). By communicating once or twice, you can get a pretty good sense of what communication will be like during the project.

Enter The Matrix

One thing that helps me evaluate all of the providers is to build a matrix of the proposals. I build a table with the following categories: Provider, proposal amount, delivery timeline, feedback, earnings, and portfolio. I write in the proposal amount and delivery timeline directly from each proposal. The feedback and earnings I rate on a 0-3 scale, and as I mentioned above, the portfolio I rate on a 1-10 scale. This gives me a way of evaluating all of the proposals that I get in a more or less calculated and much more organized way.


Remember to take your time for this step. Evaluating and choosing the right man (or woman) for the job is the most important part of the whole process. So put the time in on your end to look at each and every proposal that comes in and make sure you are choosing the provider that fits best with you and your job.

Up next in the Hands-On With The Elance Work System: Awarding, Hiring, And Setting Up Milestones. We've narrowed down our list of providers, and we're ready to hit the award button and get to work. Follow along in our next installment, coming soon.