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Evaluation Items

Evaluation items are the elements of every program for which the evaluator will provide a response. Although very similar in nature, different names are used to refer to evaluation items depending on the program type.

Program Type

Evaluation Item Nomenclature


Key Performance Indicator (KPI)




Risk Item

Information Management and Robo

Data Item

Evaluation items share certain common characteristics:

  • Inclusion in a category of one or more related evaluation items (e.g., financial performance KPIs may be grouped under a category “Financial”).
    • A specialized category called “Critical Gate” changes the behavior of the evaluation such that a rating of these items that is below minimum acceptable values will result in the failure or rejection of the entire evaluation: effectively, if a Critical Gate evaluation item fails, the whole evaluation fails.
  • Unique identification number – allows unambiguous reference and ordering of evaluation items.
  • Unique description – provides sufficient explanation to the evaluator to understand what data are being requested.
  • Frequency - specifies the periodicity of the evaluation (annual, semi-annual, quarterly, monthly, one-time).
  • Score type - specifies the scale on which the evaluation item will be rated (10 pt Scale, 5 pt Scale, Info Only, Letter (A-E), Numeric, Percent, R/Y/G, Yes/No).
  • Rating scale parameters (depend on the score type, and may allow specification of minimum, target, and maximum values associated with an evaluation item).
  • Weight - provides a means to emphasize one evaluation item in comparison to another.
  • Designing Evaluation Items

There are some key differences in evaluation items for different types of programs:

  • Compliance requirements are generally yes/no questions, and phrased such that a positive or “yes” response is a preferred status for that requirement.
    • “Has the supplier provided evidence of employment eligibility for all employees and sub-contractors who may work on-site in the delivery of services under this contract?”
  • Performance KPIs are typically expressed as a factor for which a numeric rating can be provided.
    • “Average on-time completion rate for all projects under management during current quarter.”

Regardless of these differences, there are some fundamental best-practice guidelines for all evaluation items that should be considered:

  • Evaluation items should be specific.
    • Good: “Percent of projects delivered within budgeted amount ± 5%”
    • Could be Better: “Level of financial performance”
  • Evaluation items should be measurable.
    • Good: “Number and cumulative duration of system outages within acceptable limits established by SLA”
    • Could be Better: “System performed adequately during the period”
  • Data should be available to the evaluator with which to answer the evaluation item.
  • The total number of evaluation items should be reasonable for the circumstances of the evaluation.
    • Two evaluation items for a ten-year IT outsourcing contract for a Fortune 100 company’s data centers worldwide are probably too few or too vague.
    • Three-hundred unique KPIs for a $50,000 contract to provide paper recycling services are probably too many or too detailed.
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