Accreditation fuels small business' growth

Dovel Technologies parlays CMMI assessment into contract wins

The whirlwind growth of Dovel Technologies Inc. that contributed to its recent selection as a Contractor of the Year (under $25 million in revenue) began a noticeably upward spiral in April 2008.

That is when the company, co-founded by Elma and Dov Levy in 2000 as a woman-owned small business, received an external assessment at the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Level 3 accreditation, which is an internationally recognized standard for quality software development practices.

“We worked on it for a year,” said Elma Levy, chief management officer. "You have to motivate people to go above and beyond.”

“It is really unusual for a company of our size to attain an external accreditation at Level 3,” said Dov Levy, chief executive officer. “It has been a key to our success.”

The accreditation demonstrates Dovel’s continuing efforts to achieve the highest levels of performance and service, they say. It also likely has contributed to several federal contract wins that raised Dovel’s revenues 31 percent in fiscal 2008, to $11.6 million, and by another 32 percent in fiscal 2009, to $15.3 million.

For example, a recent Education Department contract called for a small-business contractor with the CMMI 3 accreditation. Dovel was one of the few small businesses with the accreditation. “That narrowed the field significantly,” Dov Levy said.

Dovel, which has about 90 employees, provides a broad array of information technology services and solutions, including service-oriented architectures. About 95 percent of its revenue is from government contracts from agencies such as the Defense Department, Food and Drug Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The bulk of its work is in subcontracting.

“We believe SOA is a place where small businesses can thrive because small businesses can be more agile,” Dov Levy said. “SOA is very friendly to small businesses.”

The company is seeking to fill about 15 new staff positions and has created an advisory board to help navigate its next phase of growth. Dovel is on track to outgrow the $25 million maximum for sales by a small business within three years, which the Levys recognize will bring a new set of challenges.

“We are looking at strategies such as: What are the best incentives for motivating senior management? Do we need to change our business development approach? Does it make sense to think about acquiring other companies?” Elma Levy said.

Dovel also is upgrading its internal systems and using innovative solutions to further its development, including Web-based portals to track and collaborate on contract proposal development. In a recent proposal, 10 companies were involved.

“Everything was virtual,” Elma Levy said. “We got a lot of comments that it was the most efficient way to coordinate everyone.”

Dov, who is a computer scientist from Israel, and Elma, who is a former nurse from the Netherlands, have been married for 27 years and have raised two children. They came to the United States 28 years ago, and Dov Levy worked as an IT solutions consultant.

“We are very happy and very proud about the Contractor of the Year award,” Elma Levy said, “even though there are challenges.”

Return to list of GovCon winners.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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