Mark Amtower

COMMENTARY

What resources do you need to succeed?

Resource (noun): a stock or supply of money, materials, staff and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively. (The New Oxford American English Dictionary).

Resources can mean many different things to a company in the government contracting community, and there will be some overlap with research (the topic of last month’s article).

Internal resources include personnel (including ongoing training), intellectual capital and intellectual property, contracts, mentoring, legal, accounting, bid and proposal and more. External resources can include consultants for marketing, sales, business development, paid contract tracking services, government directories, memberships in associations, and others.

The bottom line for resources – and this will be different for every company – is what you need for your company to succeed. So this month we’ll try to find some common threads.

Internal resources should always include training for personnel. This can take many forms: internal mentoring, internal formal education, using external education providers (like professional associations and universities), online education and much more.

Certifications from professional associations like APMP and NCMA are extremely valuable, and according to many human resources folks, as important or even more important than an MBA. Training for any discipline in the government market will give your company an edge. Employees who receive regular training in their respective disciplines perform better and stay at a company longer. Also, studies show that training has the added benefit of higher morale.

Firms that have a good number of senior executives especially should make use of mentoring. In too many cases senior managers do not mentor or are not given the opportunity to do so. Many assume mentoring is simply a novice watching a veteran but mentoring is not simply a matter of proximity. Mentoring, done well, is an interactive communication process. Look into it.

Many companies say their employees are their most valuable asset, yet they do little to make them even more valuable. Mentoring programs and training are two ways to enhance the value of employees and increase their value to the company.

Many companies have been purchased based solely on the contracts they own so contracts also are a corporate resource.

External resources can be used for short-term or long-term projects. The trick is finding the right outside resource. Selecting the wrong one can be a costly mistake.

The No. 1 criteria for the selection of any firm is the reference.

External resources include the vast array of consultants for all aspects of doing business with the government. Reference any consultant you interview, and use live (actual references you call) and web-based resources (“Google” the person). LinkedIn is a great place to get initial references for almost anyone. LinkedIn is also a great resource for checking out partners, competitors and potential employees.

Outside resources also include marketing and PR firms, employee search firms, real estate/office space companies, sales reps, business development and capture specialists, and more.

Contract tracking services, like those offered by Deltek, Onvia and FedMine also provide an advantage. Deltek (through its acquisitions of FedSources and Input) offers value-added consulting for those bidding or looking for a team to join.

Advertising, marketing and PR activities are also frequently outsourced, or used to augment your in-house core of employees.

The key to using outside resources successfully lies in your selection process. Here are a few guidelines to help you succeed.

  • Do you have a defined need? Can you enunciate it in a way that helps you determine possible sources?
  • Does your candidate have a track record with sufficient references?
  • Have they worked in your niche before?
  • Are the employees who worked on the similar projects still with the company?
  • Have you and your staff met with them and are you comfortable with them?
  • Do you need a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)? If an outside resource is going to access any sensitive company information, an NDA should be in place.

You can do a quick reference at LinkedIn on the company and the key employees, but selecting outside resources is not something to take lightly.

The final word: Employees are really your best resource. Select them well and treat them well, then train them and where necessary, mentor them.

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn.

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