WT Insider report pits the best versus the rest

Our latest report on what government customers think about their contractors puts a spotlight on where the best companies shine, and where all the others fall short.

In my previous blogs analyzing our latest WT Insider report on Government IT Contractor Partnering, I’ve looked at some of the overall rankings of contractors given by their customers.

The conclusion is that the relationship is in OK shape, but there is definitely room for improvement.

And nothing shines a light on the need and areas for improvement like when we look at the scores government customers gave when asked to rank their single best contractor.

First, I want to revisit the stunning results of our question: Is there a single best contractor who stands out overall?

Nearly half – 49 percent – said that that they could not name a single best contractor. That’s alarming. To half of your customers, government contractors are just a vast group of average Joes. For these customers, no one stands out.

We used this question to kick off an exploration of the attributes of the single best contractor and compare that to the overall group.

The "between the best and the rest," as we call it in the report, is telling and is similar to what we found in our earlier reports that look the strengths and weaknesses of primes and subcontractors.

The gap points the way to where companies can make efforts to improve their positioning against their customers and be noticed by their customers.

We asked participants in the study to rank their single best contractor on five attributes -- technical expertise, teamwork, customer knowledge, industry perception and process -- on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent.

Not surprisingly, no one scored their best contractor as poor. The mean score ranged from 4.6 for technical expertise to 4.3 for each in customer knowledge, industry perception and process. Teamwork had a mean score of 4.4.

All of those scores are strongly in the very good to excellent range.

We also asked the respondents to score those five attributes from not at all valuable (1) to highly valuable (5) when choosing a contractor.

For technical expertise, 93 percent said it was either valuable (69 percent) or valuable (24 percent).

Teamwork scored an 88 percent, with 45 percent saying it was highly valuable and 43 percent pegging it at valuable.

Customer knowledge was next at 82 percent, with 31 percent saying it was highly valuable and 51 percent saying valuable.

Industry perception was nearly identical with 81 percent, with 31 percent picking highly valuable and 50 percent saying valuable.

The scoring for process was a bit of an outlier, with 19 percent saying it was highly valuable and 44 percent saying valuable. Another 28 percent said it was somewhat valuable.

What gets really interesting is when we take the scores for the single best contractor and compare it to the scores for the collective group.

I’ve pulled this graphic from the report. It shows the gap between best and the overall group is significant in each attribute.

But it also shows that except for technical expertise, the best contractor is outperforming the value the customers expect for each of those attributes.

That’s a huge lesson to me.

If you can outperform your customer’s expectation, you have a high likelihood of standing out in a very crowded field.

You’ll beat your competitors, and you’ll please your customers. That’s one of the biggest takeaways from this report.

Next, I’ll dive into other critical factors government customers said they look at when picking a contractor. We’ve got a wealth of verbatim comments from our study participants to draw from, too.