Sports Personality controversy and what it tells us about tender evaluation (part 1)

Tender and bid evaluation can be a pretty dry subject, but procurement and statistics geek that I am at heart, I am fascinated by the “numbers” element of evaluating bids and tenders. It’s also very important subject, although often not considered fully or properly by senior people. How you choose the best supplier is, when you come down to it, a pretty key part of procurement’s role.

The interest comes when you get into issues such as how you “score” price. This is a bit of a specialist subject of mine, and simply this factor (and I don’t mean the weighting you give to price, I mean how you actually convert price to a score for purposes of the evaluation) can make a huge difference to who wins a tender.

But today we’ll illustrate a particular aspect of the process with reference to the recent furore the BBC have faced over their choosing of the shortlist for next week's UK Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award.

The fuss is over the fact that the shortlist of 10 does not include a single woman.

How could this happen? Potential female candidates included world-class or world champion athletes, swimmers, and arguably the toughest woman in the sports world – Chrissie Wellington, 4 times world “Ironman” (triathlon) champion.

The problem was with the voting system, and the first issue was around the people who made the decision about the composition of the shortlist.

27 sports writers were asked to nominate 10 people each. They included representatives of those fine sporting publications  Nuts and Zoo; many have described them as simply soft-core porn mags. As sportswoman rarely perform topless, that may have put potential female candidates at a possible disadvantage with those magazines, and neither named a woman on their list. (Mind you, neither did the Independent or the Evening Standard). Then we had the Manchester Evening News, who nominated four Manchester based footballers, none of whom seemed to have done anything particularly special this year, including Dimitar Berbatov, Sir Alex Ferguson’s 6th choice striker currently... oh yes, and two Lancashire cricketers!

How were these 27 selected?  Was any attempt made to balance them in terms of sporting preferences, locality, gender, experience?  Was there any sort of qualification process for the evaluators?  Did they have any guidelines from the BBC in terms of conflict of interest or what they were looking for (the selection criteria in procurement terms) in the nominees?  At the very least, you would have thought they should have been encouraged not to let stupidly parochial factors creep into their selection.

So, the first lesson for procurement – make sure your evaluators are people with credibility in your organisation, who understand what they are assessing, and also ensure they have appropriate guidance around what they are looking for; and that conflicts of interest are brought into the open to mitigate risks arising from those factors.

That was the first big flaw in the SPOTY process – we’ll be back tomorrow with part 2 when we will discuss the perils of averaging and the need to arive at a balanced short-list!

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Voices (3)

  1. The Guitar Man:

    …and the perils of averaging and second votes – although they give you an outcome it may be ‘everybody gets what nobody wants’. Some might say this is democracy. Have a look at this clip from Auf Wiedersehn Pet. It might make you laugh:

  2. Final Furlong:

    what a load of bails

  3. Epoch:

    Aw c’mon Peter, credit to the MEN where it’s due, Lancashire did win the County Championship outright for the first time in 77 years! Totally agree about the footballers though.

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