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Controller reduces 30% of solicitation evaluation effort while also improving scoring quality

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

At the San Francisco's Controller's Office, the Central Contracts Division is responsible for managing the panel evaluation process for professional services contracting. Evaluating contract proposals requires a team of panelists to score submissions to ensure a fair and transparent contracting process. Each set of proposals brings together a new set of panelists depending on the project and need, which means having to host orientations and evaluation meetings for each initiative. This process was time-consuming and very labor intensive for all parties involved - the panelists, project teams, and Central Contracts folks - which often lead to delays in getting to the most important part: execution of the contract!

In July 2016, the Central Contracts Division, hoping to gain some efficiencies in the process, partnered with Ryan Hunter and the Lean Team to identify root causes to the bottlenecks and redundancies they were experiencing.

The approach?

A "fishbowl" exercise with the panelists, fishbone diagrams (also known as Ishikawa diagrams), process maps, and other root cause analysis tools to unpack what was happening and come up with some solutions.

The team found the following root causes:

  1. Panelists frequently misunderstood the evaluation rules;

  2. Existing standard score sheets, which the panelists used to evaluate, weren't clear;

  3. In-person processes could potentially be replaced by email processes - saving time and costs;

  4. Panelists could be given less time to evaluate proposals.

Based on these root causes for delays and rework in the process, the team made a few improvements. Over a series of several rapid improvement meetings, the team improved the standards for the scoring sheets and procedures for the panel evaluation.

Scoring Sheet Improvements:

  • Instructions on scoring sheets were clarified, along with a supplemental email to panelists with the same instructions, decreasing panelist errors in scoring

  • Reformatting the score sheets in Excel to auto-calculate scores, decreasing the error count in score sheets

Procedures for Panel Evaluation Improvements:

  • Replacing some in-person meetings with email communications, decreasing the demand on staff touch time

  • Establishing shorter turnaround time for panelists to evaluate the proposals, reducing wait time in the process

  • Eliminating the Panel Orientations in-person meetings when appropriate, saving time for experienced panelists and project teams

All of these combined improvements resulted in a 30% reduction in staff time spent working on this process! Score sheet accuracy also went up from 80% accuracy to 95% accuracy!

Way to go, Contracts!

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