April 1, 2012 by cs
The Procurement Services unit of the Cobb County School District will hold its next “How to Do Business” session on Thursday, May 3, 2012.
Vendors will have an opportunity to ask questions, meet CCSD Procurement personnel, and learn about the District’s purchasing processes. All interested vendors are welcome to attend.
To learn more about the school district’s buying needs in advance of attending the orientation session, vendors may conduct research on-line at http://www.cobbk12.org/centraloffice/purchasing to decide if they want to get more information. (Under “Quick Links” on the web site, take a look at both awarded contracts and current solicitations to get a good idea of the school district’s annual buying needs.)
The school district’s vendor orientation sessions are Very informal and participant driven. Officials conduct a review of the purchasing process, outline the school district’s buying needs, and describe supplier shortfalls experienced by the district.
These informal sessions are conducted on the first Thursday of every month from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the CCSD Procurement Services Bid Room located at 6975 Cobb International Blvd., Kennesaw, GA 30152.
Should the schedule or location change for any reason, the information will be posted on the school district’s website at http://www.cobbk12.org/centraloffice/purchasing. Please note that the District will be closed April 2-6, 2012 so there will be no vendor session in April.
January 17, 2012 by cs
As the Defense Department slashes its budget by at least $487 billion in 10 years, technology investment is one of the few areas that will continue to grow, according to a new military strategy that President Obama and Pentagon officials released Thursday.
The increased spending will focus on cyberspace, intelligence systems, space and science research, according to the review.
President Obama told a Pentagon press briefing that Defense has to develop “smart, strategic priorities.” Specifically, he called for enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
In his written introduction to the review, Obama said the new strategy will “ensure that our military is agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies.” He added this includes investments to ensure that the United States can prevail in all domains of military operations, including cyberspace.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said broad cuts in the new Defense budget, due for release in late January, do not apply to investments in technology, including unmanned systems, space capabilities and “particularly cyberspace capabilities.”
Defense budgeted $3.2 billion for cybersecurity in 2012. The Pentagon, Panetta said, must continue to invest “in new capabilities to maintain a decisive edge.”
He declined to provide specific funding figures for any military programs, deferring that action until release of the 2013 Defense budget. But, Panetta said, the strategy will drive the structure of the budget.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter said the new strategy envisions budget increases in “all aspects of cyber,” along with science and technology research. Defense cannot abandon that research, Carter said, as it would be akin to “eating our seed corn.”
Highlighting the importance of networks and space systems in the future, the strategy document said: “Modern armed forces cannot conduct high-temp, effective operations without reliable information and communication networks and assured access to cyberspace and space. Today space systems and their supporting infrastructure face a range of threats that may degrade, disrupt or destroy assets. Accordingly, DoD will continue to work with domestic and international allies and partners and invest in advanced capabilities to defend its networks, operational capability and resiliency in cyberspace and space.”
Trey Hodgkins, vice president of national security and procurement policy at TechAmerica, an industry trade group, said the new military strategy reflects an increasing awareness within Defense that technology, including information technology, sits at the core of multiple missions, and the Pentagon has to continue to beef up investments in this area.
Obama pointed out that the new military strategy shifts the Pentagon focus from Europe and the Mideast to the Asia-Pacifc region, including a beefed-up U.S. force presence in Australia that he announced in November 2011.
“As we end today’s wars, we will focus on a broader range of challenges and opportunities, including the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific [region],” Obama wrote in his introduction to the review. This shift includes dealing with the growth of the military power of China, which should be balanced by greater U.S. military presence in the region, the document said.
Hodgkins said this increased focus on the Asia-Pacific region will boost the importance of the U.S. Pacific Command headquartered in Honolulu and will require greater Defense network capacity in the region.
– by Bob Brewin – NextGov – 01/05/12 at http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20120105_8406.php?oref=rss?zone=NGtoday
December 8, 2011 by cs
There’s a good reason Vangent was named government contractor of the year at the 9th Annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Award gala.
Vangent delivered great results and had a strong brand. Over its fifty plus year history, the Vangent brand grew from a small business unit of NCS, to a $90 million operating division of Pearson PLC, to a $700+ million stand-alone company owned by Veritas Capital that was ultimately acquired by General Dynamics for $960 million on Sept. 30, 2011.
My paramount focus for Vangent’s brand over the past four and a half years was to grow awareness and recognition as a powerful, effective and reliable partner for federal government agencies seeking a services provider to support and answer questions about broad-reaching government programs. These programs included Medicare, military health care, disease control and prevention, student loans and Cash for Clunkers, to name a few.
In today’s government services market, where lowest price and technically acceptable often trumps best value and best solution, and where companies big and small, old and new, are jockeying for a slice of dwindling federal dollars amid an austere budget environment, an effective branding strategy is critical to a company’s success.
Vangent’s growth and market strength were the result of great customer service but also a strong focus on brand value, both internally and externally. Without a strong brand, many government services providers look exactly alike. With a solid and recognizable brand, a government services provider can come to stand for something valuable and important for its employees, customers, investors and the citizenry it serves.
Here are five rules of branding I practiced at Vangent which are essential for any company looking to enter the government services market, expand their market share or to re-position for new growth opportunities:
1) Focus on outcomes, not offerings. You can put a marketing brochure or a website of Company A next to Company B and cover up the names and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Many companies feel compelled to list every capability or skill they offer in a ‘laundry list’ fashion without any context as to what problem or challenge they help their customers overcome. A much more compelling way to communicate what a company does differently is to promote the outcomes or results it accomplishes for its customers – in plain English. Vangent built a successful branding campaign on the fact that “four out of ten Americans connect with Vangent, but never know it.” We combined this powerful and memorable factoid with a unique result it helped its customers accomplish. One example was how Vangent helped a customer enable better information sharing among multiple agencies which saved time and money – reducing processing time from eight months to just one day and shaving 30 percent in operating costs. Using that kind of differentiator will make your company stick out from the rest of the pack and allow you to stake claim to a result which you can build your brand around.
2) Equip your employees with the tools they need to be effective brand communicators. In the government contracting world, employees are your most valuable brand ambassadors. But the reality is that most employees who work for government services providers can barely recite their company’s mission or vision statements, let alone their menu of service offerings. The reason is simple: Mission statements too often are too long and full of over-used industry jargon. Make it easy for your employees by giving them the tools they need to not only memorize the meaning or essence of your company’s brand, but to internalize the brand so that they can effectively explain what your company’s brand represents. When Pearson Government Solutions was rebranded as Vangent in 2007, it created a “brand playbook” given to every employee and helped them understand the importance of branding, the words to describe Vangent’s brand and examples or “proof points” that helped them explain what Vangent’s brand represents. The brand playbook was an essential part of Vangent’s on-boarding program for new employees and was reinforced with a short and impactful video shown to all employees.
3) Create an emotional feeling about your brand. It’s OK, really! Companies marketing products we buy and use every day are masters at creating an emotional connection with consumers. They want you to feel good about buying and using their product. That’s why today’s consumer marketing focuses on how you feel versus how much the product costs or whether you need it. Why can’t we apply that same rule to the government services market? Vangent showcased its experts and thought leaders on video in a series of conversations about some of the most pressing challenges facing its customers. What’s the point in keeping their faces and thoughts hiding behind nondescript bios or ho-hum descriptions of your company’s services? Bring your company to life and create an emotional connection with your target audiences by storytelling. Showcase your company’s talent in rich content, quality photos and compelling videos. You’ll offer your customers, teaming partners and new recruits a glimpse into your company before they‘ve had the chance to meet you in person.
4) Your brand is your culture and culture trumps strategy any day. The first question asked by any new employee is about the company’s culture, not about the company’s strategy. They’ll want to know what it’s like to work at your company, what the environment is like and the opportunities to advance their careers. Many companies in the government services industry struggle in communicating their company culture and instead give employees lists of customers, names of contract vehicles and a list of company locations. Does that really answer an employee’s need to understand the company culture? Hardly. Vangent focused on its six core values and one in particular: We do meaningful work. Employees understood the impact they had on the lives of millions of people every day. This powerful value permeated throughout the company in employee communications, external communications in the forms of media relations, investor relations and marketing and recruiting campaigns.
5) Invest in your company’s brand – no matter how much – and don’t be ashamed about it. The old saying “don’t be penny wise and pound foolish” certainly rings true today in the government services industry where pressure on top and bottom line growth has squeezed out marketing, communications, advertising and branding budgets. During an era of dwindling resources in the federal government where blatant promotion is frowned upon, how do you distinguish your company and justify precious resources? In a down economy like the one we’re experiencing today, it’s more important than ever to up your game and take advantage of new and inexpensive ways to showcase your company. At Vangent, I implemented an integrated marketing program which focused on valuable content and compelling videos. I also used social media tools including Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to drive Vangent’s brand directly to the audiences it aimed to reach. Vangent’s powerful messaging platform was on display at industry events, conferences and trade shows.
Yes, employees, customers and investors do notice which companies have got it going on and which companies are stuck in the past.
About the Author: Eileen Cassidy Rivera is former vice president of communications and investor relations at Vangent, a General Dynamics company. In December, she joined KeeganSilver as senior health marketing strategist supporting Booz Allen Hamilton. This article was published by Washington Technology on Dec. 1, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/12/01/marketing-tips-government-market.aspx?s=wtdaily_021211.
September 15, 2011 by cs
Serious about learning everything about government contracting? Interested in learning about contracting from a federal contracting officer’s point-of-view? Looking for an opportunity to learn government contracting in a comprehensive and interactive way?
If you answered “yes” to these three questions, then “Mission-Focused Contracting” – a two-week course offered by The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech — is the place to be.
This very comprehensive course is being offered on the Georgia Tech campus over a two-week period, November 7 through 18, 2011. (Please note that there will be no class on Friday, November 11 in observance of Veterans’ Day.)
Mission-Focused Contracting is the capstone course for Level I contracting professionals and all non-contracting personnel who play a role in the acquisition process. This class is applicable to both government and industry purchasing and engages participants in the entire government acquisition process, from meeting with the government customer to completing the contract close-out process. Throughout this course, participants have the opportunity to learn and apply problem-solving and negotiation skills.
The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech (The Academy) is an approved equivalency training provider to the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) and provides continuing education training to acquisition and government contracting professionals as well as to business professionals working for government contractors or pursuing opportunities in federal contracting.
How You Will Benefit:
By attending this course, participants will learn how to:
- Complete market research to identify procurement sources
- Develop a bid or proposal package
- Evaluate proposals and award contracts
- Monitor contractor performance, apply remedies, and make proper contract payments
- Modify contracts, exercise options, and complete the contract closeout process
Business people taking this course have the unprecedented opportunity to sit side-by-side with government contracting personnel to learn the ins and outs of federal contracting. In addition, many of the principles of federal contracting apply to state and local government procurement.
To learn more about this course — and to register– please visit: http://www.pe.gatech.edu/courses/con-120-mission-focused-contracting.
August 15, 2011 by cs
Nearly doubling your revenue in one year is remarkable in itself. That 5 AM Solutions Inc. did it in an uncertain economy and with less government contracting dollars is one of the reasons the Reston, Va.-based company holds the No. 41 spot on this year’s Washington Technology Fast 50 list.
Between 2009 and 2010, 5 AM’s revenue rocketed from $7.2 million to $13.9 million, and its compounded annual growth rate over the past five years is 140.29 percent.
“We bring some really unique talent to the field where there’s a lot of opportunity,” said Brent Gendleman, president and CEO of 5 AM. The company develops software for life science and health professionals, and health information technology is a burgeoning field.
“I think our brand of transparent process and high-quality folks and team players has some resonance,” he added. “There’s just a huge opportunity for our government clients to take advantage.”
Good workers are great, but only if there’s work for them to do. Contract wins that put the company in the thick of two of the country’s biggest health IT initiatives have ensured that the 5 AM team stays busy. Since July 2006, the company has been handling software engineering for the National Cancer Institute’s caArray open-source Web-based array data management system, under a $9.25 million contract. The system helps translational cancer research by acquiring, disseminating and aggregating information that can be shared via the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid.
In April, 5AM won a $5.1 million contract to provide software engineering for the National Health Information Network’s CONNECT open-source software, which enables secure electronic health data exchange among health care providers, insurers, government agencies and consumer services.
With those customers and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Office of the Surgeon General established, Gendleman said he is setting his sights on the Veterans Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
“We are hopeful that some of the things that we have learned at the other agencies can be applied there to a very important and direct population that we would love to get engaged with directly,” he said of VA.
Some of those lessons include being transparent to establish trust. “That trust is between not just two individuals but between the company and the client that they’re serving. There’s a partnership – and it really is a partnership – that they’re trying to achieve,” Gendleman said.
Knowing when to quit is also crucial. “You want to fail as quickly as possible,” he added. “The longer you wait, the more expensive it gets and who wants that? Nobody. It’s not everybody’s instinct but failing as fast as possible is absolutely the most important thing to do. When you’re talking about medicine, you want to know if something’s not working now so you can try something different and don’t hurt someone. On the science side, it’s the same thing.”
Besides adding to its workload, 5 AM plans to add to its employee roster. The company, which has lost only three workers in the past four years, started with two employees in 2003, now has 48 and aims for 70 employees by next summer. Most of the hires will be in the engineering department.
Going forward, federal budget concerns will be the company’s main challenge, Gendleman said.
“People are very reluctant to say ‘Let’s do this initiative or that initiative’ when they don’t know if they’re going to get the funding or not,” he said.
But even that could be an opportunity, Gendleman added. “Sometimes the cuts really do allow for people to take a breath and reevaluate and reprioritize, and sometimes you’re in the plus part of that.”
About the Author: Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer to Washington Technology. Published Aug. 11, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/08/01/fast-50-5am-solutions.aspx?s=wtdaily_120811.
July 7, 2011 by cs
In sports parlance, it’s known as going for the gold. The term also applies in government contracting, as more and more companies are seeking the gold to be found in the large federal indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract vehicles.
“Come July and August, the IDIQs light up like Christmas trees,” said Paul Strasser, senior vice president and general manager of Dynamics Research Corp.’s federal group. “There are task orders going out like crazy because, with the continuing resolutions, agencies are trying to spend the money they have allocated. The IDIQ has become by far the vehicle of choice. So you have to prepare.”
“The smarter smaller companies are looking at the vehicles earlier and seeing what resources it’s going to take to win,” said Mark Amtower, co-founder of the Government Market Master certificate program at the George Mason University School of Management and a Washington Technology contributor. “The large companies have two avenues. They can buy a company that owns the IDIQ or wait until the recompete and try to win it. However, there are no guarantees for the recompete.”
1. Consider M&A to open doors
Paul Bell, president of Dell Inc.’s Global Public and Large Enterprise sector, makes no bones that Dell is taking the mergers and acquisitions route.
He said Dell is still in the early stages of its M&A activity even though the giant hardware and services company has acquired nine companies in just 18 months.
“We think this has been a really good approach for Dell,” Bell said. “Our integration of our very biggest platform, Perot Systems, is going incredibly well compared to a lot of people’s experience in that [government provider] space.”
Dell’s marketing strategy is to serve its federal clients with the unified face of one company, Bell said. “That won’t change even if we add 25 more companies, which is likely in the coming years,” he said but declined to go into specifics about future M&A targets.
DRC’s capture strategy always includes IDIQ contracts. “If you’re not playing on certain IDIQ contracts, you’re really left out in the cold,” Strasser said.
Next: Focus on key markets
2. Focus on key markets
Strasser said DRC has been successful because it concentrates on its five core market segments: homeland security, health, cybersecurity, intelligence and Defense Department strategic programs, and financial and regulatory agencies.
Its IDIQ wins include the Internal Revenue Service’s Total Information Processing Support Services contract, General Services Administration’s Alliant contract, the Army’s Program Management Support Services and Homeland Security Department’s Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions (EAGLE) contracts.
Strasser said DRC identifies new targets at twice-yearly strategic planning sessions during which the company determines the government’s needs and its funding levels.
Company executives also attend independent analysis sessions and participate in a number of industry associations.
“We have people in key positions to not only be aware of changes in the industry, the legislation and how the money is being budgeted but also to sort of influence those [groups],” Strasser said.
DRC’s fastest-growing market is health care, an area in which the company had virtually no business just five years ago.
Next: Invest wisely in targeted sectors
3. Invest wisely in targeted sectors
Strategic investment discussions, off-site company assessments and peer reviews that began about five years ago led to action plans for DRC to target federal health care contracts.
“Today in the federal group that I manage, we’re going to do over $30 million this year in health-related services and solutions,” Strasser said.
As an example, he cited the $19 million Tricare Evaluation, Analysis, Management and Support, a Military Health System Category 2 acquisition contract that DRC won last year thanks to its management consulting expertise. DRC is helping the Walter Reed Army Medical Center manage its Base Realignment and Closure movement.
“We identified that [opportunity] three or four years ago,” Strasser said. “We said we’re committed to that market. We identified a vehicle we thought we had an opportunity to win. We put resources and investments against that to identify the capture of that vehicle. Once we won that vehicle we invested additional resources to pursue task order opportunities there.”
Although DRC does not have a chief medical officer, its staffing does include clinicians and doctors.
Next: Plan ahead
4. Plan ahead
About a year ago, American Systems Corp., which historically sought smaller contracting vehicles, introduced a plan to create a business development system and pursue some of the larger prime contacts, including IDIQs, President and CEO Bill Hoover said. “And the good news is we’ve actually followed through on that plan.”
Hoover said that after he joined the company in 2006, ASC instituted an infrastructure investment plan to strengthen its five key market targets: command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; acquisition and logistics; readiness; homeland security; and national intelligence.
“We also expanded our recruiting function significantly as well because we knew that was going to be important, too,” Hoover said.
“I would say that probably our back office, which really is the infrastructure side of the business, was probably about 60 or 70 people. And we’ve probably increased that by about 50 percent or so,” he said.
Another goal was to strengthen ASC’s capture management program and establish a project management office to oversee the company’s IDIQ contracts and meet the needed quick turnaround on task orders.
“Although the bulk of the investment was probably back in the 2006-2007 time frame, we continue to invest in our infrastructure to make sure that we can be as responsive as we can possibly be on these opportunities,” Hoover said.
Next: Hire the right people
5. Hire the right people
In addition, ASC is aggressively expanding its pipeline of individuals “so that we have a living and breathing database of candidates for a variety of opportunities in the focused business opportunity areas that we’re interested in pursuing,” he said.
ASC uses that database to strengthen its proposals whether it is pursuing an IDIQ or a large single-award prime contract. To keep the database current and growing, executives attend job fairs and conduct informational seminars.
“We have that database of [potential contract and current] employees that we can very quickly pull together because, on the IDIQ side, you have a very rapid turnaround of proposals, and we can then provide the résumés to go after those faster-turnaround opportunities,” Hoover said.
“We’re constantly looking for individuals with the requisite experience, the requisite customer focus, the requisite capabilities,” he said, adding that this is particularly true when going after an IDIQ or task order from the intelligence community in which background checks and security clearances are critical.
“The name of the game has changed with the government predominantly using some of the larger vehicles,” said Shiv Krishnan, chairman and CEO of Indus Corp., who recently hired Terry Fitzpatrick as vice president to oversee business development and growth.
Next: Build your infrastructure
6. Build your infrastructure
Indus emerged from the small-business program about 10 years ago and positioned itself to go after large contracts, including governmentwide acquisition contracts, known as GWACs, he said.
“If you do not bid on these GWACs, then you’re shut out of opportunities coming through those [awards] and those [represent] billions of dollars of opportunities for the next seven or 10 years,” Krishnan said.
Indus set up the infrastructure to compete for GWACs by meeting government requirements, such as having an earned value management system, a government-approved purchasing system, Capability Maturity Model Integration certification, and positive past-performance evaluations.
“You need to be positioned; you need to be close to the customer,” he said. That’s what Fitzpatrick’s business development team does two to three years in advance, Krishnan added.
Indus was successful in 2009 when it bid for a spot on the 10-year, $50 billion Alliant contract. “That was a feather in our cap and the beginning of our [capture] strategy,” Krishnan said.
For several years Indus tracked the planned EAGLE II, Network Centric Solutions II and National Institutes of Health’s 10-year, $20 billion Chief Information Officer — Solutions and Partners 3 awards. When they finally were announced in 2010, the company was ready to bid on all three, Krishnan said. The company also is adding health IT capabilities.
GWACs and agency-specific enterprisewide acquisition contracts have been popular, he said, because the government does the upfront work of selecting qualified contractors, and the competition to perform the task orders is limited only to those companies.
Next: A word of caution
A word of caution
However, Kevin Plexico, vice president of research and analysis services at Deltek Input., a market research and intelligence firm, cautions against relying too heavily on GWACs, including Alliant and NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement.
“We haven’t seen them trend up in five years,” he told a gathering of contracting executives last month. “They’ve been relatively flat while those agency-specific task order-based contracts have been taking off.”
“What we’re seeing is larger agencies are establishing their own task-order based contracts,” he said. “We see that all the military branches have moved this way.”
That trend is expected to continue, effectively reducing the number of prime contract opportunities, Plexico said.
For example, he said, about half of DHS’ IT services go through the EAGLE contract.
“If you don’t have a position on EAGLE, you can effectively think about your opportunity inside DHS as being limited to the other 50 percent that’s outside the EAGLE contract,” Plexico said.
In addition, the growth of task orders has greatly reduced the time frame in which to pursue them compared to the traditional 30-, 60- or 90-day response time for traditional requests for proposals.
Plexico said a Deltek Input study of about 11,000 task orders from 18 contract vehicles found that more than half of them required contractors to respond in less than two weeks.
“So this will challenge even the most agile of contracting and bid proposal organizations to respond,” he said. “This is fundamentally changing how companies are organizing their proposal organizations.”
– About the Author: David Hubler is the associate editor of Washington Technology. Published 7/1/2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/07/05/cover-steps-to-big-contract-wins.aspx?s=wtdaily_060711
June 13, 2011 by cs
If you’re interested in learning about what and how the Marine Corps Logistics Command buys, then you ought to consider being in Albany, GA on Aug. 4 and 5, 2011.
The Albany Marine Corps base is hosting a two-day trade show specifically focused on procurement and acquisition that support of Warfighter requirements.
The Command is looking for exhibitors and attendees specializing in:
- Industrial Electronics
- Information Technology
- Parts Obsolescence
- Warehousing (including Supplies)
- Material Handling
- Green Initiatives
- Structure Ventilation/Controlled Environments for Workers
On Thursday, Aug. 4th, an anticipated 100 exhibitors — representing both small business and large business as well as local, state, and federal government agencies – are expected to be on hand at the Albany Civic Center. Opening ceremonies will begin at 8:00 a.m.
Mid-day on Thursday, attendees will gather for lunch across the street from the Civic Center at the Albany Hilton Garden Inn to hear featured keynote speaker, Lieutenant General Frank A. Panter, Deputy Commandant, Installations and Logistics, Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps.
Following lunch, activities will resume in the exhibit hall at the Civic Center from 1:30 until 4:00 p.m.
On Friday, Aug. 5th at the Albany Civic Center there will be eight (8) workshops running concurrently, each repeated on the hour at 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, and 11:00 a.m. Workshop topics include: The Mission and Function of the Marine Corps Logistics Command Centers (including Distribution Management, Maintenance Center, and Supply Management); Expert Services for Entrepreneurs; Acquisition Courses for Contractors; the Federal Logistics Information System and the Internet Bid Board System; Construction Requirements of the Marine Corps Logistics Base; Small Business Program Updates; Getting on GSA Schedules; and Doing Business with the Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM).
There is a registration fee of $100 to attend this two-day event. The registration fee includes access to all events both days, including one lunch ticket for Aug. 4th.
Companies wishing to exhibit at the event must make arrangements and pay a fee in advance. The exhibition fee for large businesses is $550, and the exhibition fee for small businesses is $450. Each of these exhibitor registration packages covers two attendees and two lunch tickets. (Exhibitors must set-up at the Civic Center on Wed., Aug. 3rd, between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. Exhibit teardown takes place on Thurs., Aug. 4th between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m.)
Pre-registration is required to attend this event. The deadline for registration is Thursday, June 16, 2011. Complete details may be found at: http://www.logcom.usmc.mil/sbpo/files/trade-show/2011/Key-Information.pdf.
- The Industry Exhibitor registration form is at: http://www.logcom.usmc.mil/sbpo/files/trade-show/2011/Industry-Exhibitor-Reg.pdf
- The Industry Attendee registration form is at: http://www.logcom.usmc.mil/sbpo/files/trade-show/2011/Industry-Attendee-Reg.pdf
- The Government/Non-Profit registration form is at: http://www.logcom.usmc.mil/sbpo/files/trade-show/2011/Govt-Reg.pdf
May 13, 2011 by cs
As is typically the case in IT, the primary challenge of developing or optimizing an automated business development and capture management process relates to people, not technology. However, overcoming cultural resistance is easier by following these steps.
- Think big picture. Business development is everyone’s responsibility, said Scott Campbell, senior executive consultant at Robbins-Gioia, a program management consulting firm. “It doesn’t mean that there aren’t official roles and responsibilities associated with business development, but there needs to be a mindset that pervades the company’s culture,” he said. “Employees, no matter their role, ought always to be thinking about how the company can provide greater value and looking for customer pain points.”
- Take the lead. That culture needs to start with top executives, who need to take the opportunity to understand their business capture capabilities and gaps, keep a hand in the development of a good process and pound the pulpit on business development. In all communications vehicles, they need to impart the messages that identifying and capturing new business is critical to the overall success of the company and territorialism won’t be tolerated. They should emphasize that all leads and information are company assets that are to be valued, shared and managed effectively. “Generally, it’s the leadership that sets the tone, and when they do, they can expect much better results,” said Bill Scheessele, president and CEO of Mastering Business Development Inc.
- Know thyself. Many employees are subject-matter experts in their own narrow subjects. To get better at identifying business opportunities, companies should train employees on all of the core capabilities of the company and how they work in tandem to provide value to potential customers. “If you don’t have that context, it can be hard to recognize business opportunities when they present themselves,” Campbell said.
- Know your customer. By the same token, employees should be encouraged to understand the vision, mission and tasks of customers and potential customers.
- Simplify whenever possible. As companies go about defining and setting up a process to collect, share and track business development opportunities, they need to make sure that the process aligns with how their personnel work and isn’t so cumbersome that already-busy people refuse or fail to use it as part of their daily tasks. Require the minimum number of steps to be effective.
- Accept help. When possible, companies should consider investing in dedicated resources to manage the business development process, Campbell said. “In this current environment, where people are going a million miles an hour, making this extra investment will help keep the company’s eyes above the treetops and maintain that broader visibility on the opportunities that are out there,” he said.
- Train, train, train. Whatever tools are chosen, whether commercial, customized or homegrown, employees — across the enterprise, from top executives to administrative staff members — need to be educated on how to use them in the context of the company’s individual business development process, said Robert Lohfeld, founder and CEO of Lohfeld Consulting. In time, as the process and tools are tweaked, training should be updated and refreshed.
About the Author: Heather Hayes is a freelance writer based in Clifford, VA – as published 5/3/2011 in Washington Technology at http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2011/05/02/STRATEGY-Top-Contractor-tools-sidebar.aspx?p=1.
May 10, 2011 by cs
The Defense Department has announced a renewed focus on pricing that could have significant effects across the market. Given the budget climate, that focus is both wise and understandable. If ever there were a time that the government needs to make sure it is spending its money wisely, this would be it. The question is how best to do so.
There are a range of tools available to the government to help achieve that goal: well-run, competitive procurements; solid market research and price analysis; enhanced and accelerated workforce training; good contract management; and more. But recent statements from the department’s acquisition leadership indicate that their pricing initiative will be centered on eliminating existing procurement flexibilities and developing new models and data requirements for determining, even dictating, a reasonable price and profit.
In a recent speech at the Defense Acquisition University, DOD Director of Procurement Policy Shay Assad said, “We’re the only company in the world that tries to spend our money as fast as we can and get nothing for it.”
By any measure, that’s a remarkable and demonstrably false statement.
Although Assad was obviously using provocative rhetoric to make a larger point, the clear message is that the department believes it is getting a raw deal. He’s asserting that contractors are making excessive profits, even though every independent analysis, including public company filings, clearly show that, though generally healthy, this industry’s profits are far from excessive and are often well below standard commercial margins.
Nonetheless, DOD is developing new cash flow models and weighted profit guidelines for services, in the apparent belief that such models will better enable them to dictate price reasonableness. Moreover, DOD has asked Congress to remove from the decades-old statutory definition of a commercial item the crucial phrase “of a type,” which was included to recognize that much of what the government buys is commercial but that the government might need it to be slightly modified to meet its specific needs.
Without rehashing the historic rationale for this important legislative provision, DOD’s efforts to eliminate it are based on its belief that it is not getting adequate pricing information on some commercial procurements and that its workforce doesn’t do the requisite market research and analysis. But neither is a compelling rationale.
The statute does not deprive the government of its right to obtain adequate pricing data. All it prohibits is requiring certified cost and pricing data which, for most commercial firms, is a nonstarter because it requires creating and maintaining parallel accounting systems that can comply with the government’s unique and complex cost accounting standards. Hence, commercial procurements are based on competition, market research and what is known as other than certified cost and pricing data.
If the department is concerned that it is not getting the pricing it deserves, there are far more effective ways to deal with that concern than reversing important procurement flexibilities that will affect the government and thousands of companies. If contracting officers are not exercising their authority to request reasonable levels of pricing information when necessary, the answer is easy — ask for it. If companies refuse to provide it, don’t do business with them. And if the workforce lacks the resources to do the necessary market research and price analyses, accelerate its training and the delivery of support tools.
The department actually gets a lot for its money, but it can always do better. Making regressive policy changes and adding costly, unnecessary processes, rather than focusing on more effective and efficient ways to capitalize on the real benefits of market forces and competition, is simply the wrong answer. And it signals a trend worth worrying about.
About the Author: Stan Soloway is president and chief executive officer of the Professional Services Council. This article was published on 5/6/2011 by Washington Technology at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/05/02/insights-soloway.aspx?s=wtdaily_090511.
May 9, 2011 by cs
It’s no secret that there are fewer new opportunities in the government market, thanks to looming budget cuts and an increasing trend away from the use of new contract awards in favor of established governmentwide acquisition contracts.
However, companies can increase their ability to compete and even boost their win rates and revenues if they invest in and optimize their business development and capture management processes and tools.
“More companies are fighting for smaller pieces of business out here in the market, but those companies that invest and work hard to build and optimize their processes will do better in competition,” said Robert Lohfeld, CEO and founder of Lohfeld Consulting, a proposal services consulting firm, and a columnist for Washington Technology. “It’s a lengthy journey to creating and optimizing them, but once established, these processes become the economic engine the drives the company. They can really raise your win probability up to where you’re capturing between 60 and 80 percent of the deals you pursue.”
Making the decision to invest is easy, but implementing it is not, said Bill Scheessele, president and CEO of Mastering Business Development Inc., (MBDi), a firm that provides assessment and consulting services. Scheessele also is a Washington Technology columnist.
“The world has changed considerably in government contracting to the point that there are only two options in this competitive space now,” he said. “You’re either on the front end of developing relationships and gathering human intelligence and staying on top of your opportunities, or you’re on the back end: reactive, dependent, chasing, selling.”
The life cycle involved in identifying a business opportunity and the time frame involved in going after it has been compressed considerably and is much less contingent on a Rolodex approach to business development and more reliant on cooperation and information sharing within an organization. Adjusting to these changes requires a shift both in how companies think and how they operate during the very front end of the business development process.
It can be difficult, but it is necessary if companies are to remain in a competitive position. “Managing a pipeline today has become equally important as all of the history around compliance,” said Jim Rogers, vice president of government contracts marketing and product strategy at Deltek, which provides tools and software to support the business development life cycle. “Compliance in the past has always been the key to government contracting, and there’s been a tremendous focus and investment on compliance, but pipeline management now rivals compliance as a fundamental business area of investment.”
With time and competition pressures at an all-time high, companies that don’t invest in streamlined, effective processes will lose out on — and potentially go out of — business. “For a contractor to be able to identify an opportunity, build a team, look at their past performance, get the right resumes in place, build a proposal, get their costs right and win it within days to weeks is a tremendous process,” Rogers said. “You simply cannot expect to go about business as usual in today’s environment and survive.”
Investing across a life cycle
Companies do have choices in how to go about designing better business development and capture processes. They can do their own research and build their own in-house intelligence management systems around individuals and intelligence, or they can hire outside consultants that specialize in helping companies document and streamline their processes to confront and cope with organizational and cultural challenges. There are also vendors that can help companies decide what IT tools to apply and still others that can help oversee the process.
Although there are variations in how the business development life cycle is defined, it essentially has three phases, and companies can choose from a variety of tools and approaches to help streamline and optimize their efforts during each of those phases.
- Business development involves identifying and qualifying new business opportunities and then determining which to pursue. This information is often derived through market research firms, such as Input and FedSources — both now owned by Deltek — but companies can also root out potential business by doing their own market research and contacting customers formally and informally.
- Capture management is where companies begin positioning themselves to pursue and win business opportunities. That means putting the data and human intelligence that has been collected on each opportunity into an accessible, shareable repository; detailing the requirements; developing a solution; researching and understanding the competition; creating a win strategy; creating a teaming strategy; creating a pricing strategy; and then overseeing that process. A good capture process will also provide easy-to-access management reports that note, among other things, how many proposals have been submitted, how many are in the evaluation stage and how many are coming up for bid. To help with this kind of pipeline management, many companies use a customer relationship management tool, which can collect and maintain data relevant to various opportunities and track opportunities over time. The dominant ones in the marketplace are GovWin CRM from Deltek, Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamic CRM. Some companies, Lohfeld said, also use homegrown tools that aren’t nearly as sophisticated but might work well for the needs of a particular company.
- Pursuit involves choosing and going after a qualified business opportunity and can be broken down even further into three subphases: preproposal development, proposal development and postproposal submission. That essentially involves moving the capture assets on the chosen opportunity and potential client into the creative phase, as personnel move information into the strategies and tactics that will be included in the final proposal and then, once an RFP has been put in place, to make a full-scale effort to deliver a winning proposal. The submission will also involve oral presentations, final responses and then, if a contract is awarded, negotiations and other tasks associated with closing the deal. Some of the tools that companies can use during this time include Sharepoint from Microsoft and eRoom, which can be used as a knowledge repository in which companies map the capture activities to the proposal activities, and Privia, which is integrated with Salesforce.com.
In some instances, the business development, capture and pursuit processes can be streamlined into a single end-to-end strategy. For example, Deltek provides life cycle tools and processes within a subscription-based, software-as-a-service offering that automates the workflow through the various steps, while Lohfeld Consulting offers a solution called Capture Command Center that helps companies integrate the process seamlessly between whatever CRM capture tools and knowledge repository they’ve chosen to use.
It’s the people, stupid
Although the business development, capture and pursuit tools available to companies are highly automated, functional, dynamic and convenient — even mobile — they are not a panacea for the larger cultural problems that can hamstring a company’s efforts to identify and win new opportunities, said Nicholas Coppings, senior vice president of consulting and general manager of MBDi.
“This is really not an IT problem,” he said. “The best upfront business development systems are built around an internal process, where the company has developed the process themselves and then they’ve had somebody come in and customize it and apply some IT tools.”
No tool, no matter how effective, can overcome a poorly defined process or lazy and untrained business development professionals, he said, noting that any company that’s had a salesperson leave suddenly, taking their contacts and files with them, understands the potential dangers involved.
“I’ve seen companies succeed and get along quite well using an effective process and Outlook, and I’ve seen bad people hide behind GovWin and fail,” Coppings said. “You need an IT process that mirrors an effective business development process that actually disciplines the business development staff to get the information that’s required and enter it into the process.”
Companies — whether small, medium or large — that recognize that need and invest effectively in training, process development and IT can succeed despite an increasingly tough contracting marketplace, according to business development experts.
“We always talk about people, process and technology being the key to everything we do in this industry and that’s certainly the case with business development — now more than ever,” Lohfeld said. “But if you get all three working in this area, you’ve got a company that’s destined to be successful. If you don’t, you’re running a handicapped race.”
About the Author: Heather Hayes is a freelance writer based in Clifford, VA – as published May 2, 2011 in Washington Technology at http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2011/05/02/STRATEGY-Top-Contract-Tools.aspx?s=wtdaily_090511&p=1