I'm often asked by evaluators: "How long will it take to complete the evaluation?" This is usually followed by: "I still have my day job to do."
The common answer to this question is it is almost impossible to tell until the tenders have been opened. However, it is possible to provide an estimate so that the adjudicator and his or her managers can plan the evaluation into their workload.
In a well-planned procurement with a structured set of questions, it should be possible to provide guides to bidders on the number of words or pages that are expected in response. These guides will be based upon a subject matter expert having considered what would constitute a model answer and allowing a bit extra. This means that for a specific evaluator, an estimate can be calculated of the number of pages per bidder they are likely to have to read.
The purchaser will know how many bidders have been invited into the stage of the procurement. This will give a ‘worst case’ estimate of the total number of pages for each evaluator to read. It may also be possible to analyse previous similar tenders and to see what the average return rate is, thereby refining the estimate.
Research indicates that the time taken for the average adult to read an A4 page, containing about 350 words, is about two minutes. Further, to type a rationale of about 100 words will take between three and four minutes. The evaluator is likely to need to read the response a couple of times, consider the response against the question that was asked, consult the evaluation guidance and write a good rationale. All this is likely to take a total of between 10 and 15 minutes per A4 page. With larger responses, it should take less time to evaluate per page.
You will also need to factor in some breaks, as well as allowing the evaluator some time to assess their scores and rationales at the end of their evaluation.
Obviously everyone works at a different rate, but this should give a rough estimate that will allow evaluators and managers to plan for the evaluation.
☛ Graham Beland is a senior consultant at QinetiQ Commerce Decisions