Big Game, Small Game, Fair Game
As we enter into 2012, it is increasingly becoming apparent that new Federal procurements, programs and related contracts of all types and sizes are problematic. The companies that traditionally look for large, major contracts, the Big Game, are looking at the same opportunities that much smaller firms pursue, the Small Game. In other words, today everything is Fair Game.
Building, maintaining and following up on strong relationships has been an industry and Advantage Consulting catchphrase for 20 years (hard to believe we have been doing this for 20 years). During the next week or two bring the key people on your team together for an hour to discuss the following business generation topics. I suspect the conversation will lead to tactical actions that will invigorate the relationship process and uncover opportunity areas:
What can we do for our clients and contacts that reduce their exposure to risk?
What does the client need to get done that no one seems to be working on?
What small improvement will make a discernable difference to the client?
Who will benefit from talking to us, and which of us should they talk to?
How can we help our sponsor get the funding they need to work with us?
Make sure someone is taking notes on the discussion and follow-up action items. Big Game, Small Game, it doesn't matter. What makes the difference is that your team is in the game. Contact Sid Jaffe, email@example.com or call (703)642-5153, if your team needs a "coach."
NCSES Analytical and Technical Support Services (ATSS), Division of Acquisition and Cooperative Support
If you want the free full summary of this target go to: http://login.epipeline.com/limitedDisplay?ID=FOSRCUSA22008&FLAG=SUMMARY. This target is only available for a short period of time.
If you need help designing and executing your capture program or proposals to win this procurement contact Sid Jaffe, at 703-642-5153.
The Art of the Proposal - Decision to Pursue (Tenth in the Series)
By J.P. Richard, Vice President, Advantage Consulting, Inc.
A decision to prepare a proposal in response to a Government RFP is a major commitment of resources in any company. In large defense contractors, there may be an existing proposal staff to provide the infrastructure for the effort. In smaller companies, that infrastructure may exist on paper only, if at all. In either case, company resources have to be allocated to completely respond to the government requirement. Generally, the task will be done in non-billable hours, in addition to the staff's regular jobs. In many cases, other companies will have to become bidding partners for this project. That brings its own set of challenges. In all cases, significant management attention is required to ensure a win. And after all, you should not embark on a proposal unless you expect to win.
For all the above reasons, the decision to prepare and deliver a proposal to a Federal agency is a big decision and should be carefully considered. The best way to decide whether to go ahead is to consider what your chances are of winning. If the odds are not in your favor, don't do it. Let's look at a few questions you should ask to assess those odds.
Do you know the client and its problem or need? You should have someone on your capture team or elsewhere in the company who knows how that client makes decisions, what its 'hot buttons' are and why they are pursuing this project at this particular time. If you can't answer these questions, your odds of winning are greatly reduced.
Does the client know you? If this is the first time this client will hear your name, your chances of winning are minimal. If, on the other hand, you already have a reputation for success with this client, the key personnel you are proposing are recognized in this agency, your chance of winning rises significantly. The Government wants to work with people it knows and is comfortable with. If you are one of those, your chances of winning improve significantly.
Do you have the resources to pursue this project? Resources will be needed to win the bid, and even more resources will be needed to execute the work should you win. It may simply be that you don't have the right people available who can develop a solution to this project. It may be that they are already overcommitted on other projects. Then, it's wise not to bid because you need to put your 'first team' on it. Or, it may be that you can deliver the proposal but, if you win, you will have to stretch your company beyond its limits to deliver. A project may be just too big for you to handle. If it is substantially bigger (an order of magnitude bigger) than what you are now doing for the Government, you had better think twice before tackling it. Don't be too greedy or ambitious, to your own detriment.
There are certainly other questions that can sharpen your perspective on what your odds of winning are, but these are the fundamental ones that are tough to assess but critical to consider early, before any resource commitments are made. These can be thought of as environmental issues, and they are indeed critical. I haven't even addressed financial issues and/or technical issues. You need to make a profit on the project and you need to enhance your own technical abilities and experience base, but that is the gist for another discussion.
Want to discuss Proposal Tips like this one? Contact J.P. Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's Really All About Risk
By Bill Hamilton, Vice President, Advantage Consulting, Inc.
At a recent conference, a Small Business Advocate described his attempts to convince an agency to set aside a procurement for a small business. The discussion was lively and the agency was generally supportive. However, one agency program manager was not convinced that this was the best strategy and asked, "Doesn't an award of a contract to a small business create a lot of risk for us?" The advocates answer was profound. "Yes," he said, "it is risky to award a contract to a small business. It is also risky to award a contract to a large business, a not-for-profit business or any other business."
While I may not have quoted the advocate's words exactly, his meaning was clear and affects every one of us. Every part of the capture process is or should be directed at mitigating risk and the customer's perception of risk. When the Government awards a contract, they do so on faith that their perception of a company is true and that the company can and will do what it says in the time allowed and on budget.
People buy from people they know, like, respect and trust. The most important word in that sequence is trust. A company creates trust by sincere, honest communications and support over time. We build trust by imparting knowledge about our capabilities, our past performance and ourselves. While building trust takes a long time, it can only take a second to destroy. Deal with your customers and your employees honestly and you will build a stronger case for the Government to select you as the winner. By demonstrating understanding of the problems faced by your customer and knowledge of how you can help them overcome these problems, you strengthen their faith and trust in you and the work you offer.
The advocate was not only telling a story, he was asking for help from the business audience. He was reminding Government and industry conference participants that every contract has risk. The Government is risk adverse and always seeks the lowest risk of failure. We are Government contractors. Our job is to develop the most nearly risk-free solution we can and communicate that solution and our credibility to the customer.
Want to discuss mitigating risk through good customer communications in more detail or want more information? Call me at (703) 642-5153 or send an e-mail to email@example.com and let's talk.
Your New Business Developer
By Sid Jaffe, President, Advantage Consulting, Inc.
We are frequently asked by clients how we would identify and evaluate a business development person in a manner that would provide them with the highest assurance of success. Many contractor companies have experienced bringing in a BD person with the understanding that the BD process takes time-but without a plan or agreed upon set of specific BD activities. After 15 months to 18 months, the contractor replaces the BD person and is really unsure why there was no success.
Hiring a BD professional requires implementing a process for evaluating, energizing and tracking BD resources, both internally and externally. The goals, plan, process, and tactics should be in place before the search begins. By the time you have hired a BD person there should be an agreed upon set of tactics and actions, potential contacts and opportunities and a timeline for implementation. The BD process requires structure, follow-up and research. It requires time with interim objectives and specific outcomes to be attained along the way. The more these are planned and tracked, the better equipped the contractor is to evaluate the success of a business developer and program in the early stages.
To obtain assistance in designing a program for growing business development, contact Sid Jaffe, firstname.lastname@example.org at (703) 642-5153.
Children are natural mimics who act like their parents despite every effort to teach them good manners.