Transition turmoil

We asked how contractors can help their customers through the transition to a new administration

E-mail your suggestion to Washington Technology Editor Nick Wakeman

Our experts: Renny DiPentima, former
chief executive officer of SRA
International Inc.; Rich Wilkinson,
vice president of government
contracting industry
marketing at Deltek;
and Richard White,
president and CEO of

DIPENTIMA: Stay close to your customers,
understand their needs, and
realize that they will re-enter a buying
and contracting mode, particularly in
the second two quarters of the year.
So you need to position yourself for
those two quarters.

You do that by understanding your
customers' problems. Use
this period of time to prepare
thoughtful white
papers for those customers
about how to
address those problems.

Position yourself so that when the
money is freed up, your customers
already understand what you recommend
they do and how you can help
them solve their problems.

This is not the time to give up on a
customer, even if the customer is not
in a buying mode.

WILKINSON: It's tempting to keep
your head down during transitions or
unsettled times and try to fly below
the radar. Don't do it. Be visible and
be involved far before the point when
the agency begins to look for someone
to help.

Just being there isn't enough. You
may know as much or more about the
problems your customers will face than they do. Spend a little time with
your senior people exploring the
issues from your customers' perspective.
You might even consider investing
some time in some issue papers
that address some of those problems.
When the request comes, jump into
the fray. You can't help from the sidelines.
If you aren't there, someone else
will be. And the people who are there
are going to be the trusted advisers to
the new management team.

WHITE: Place heightened priority on
delivering flawlessly so that as things
change for agency personnel they can
rely on you to assist them in maintaining

Present the customer with a white
paper on why their contract meets the
goals of the new administration.
Make changes to the contract performance
monitoring system to reflect
the goals of the new administration.
Implement any and all possible
cost-reduction steps that can be
shown visibly as either direct cost
reductions or improvements in measurable
contract outputs.

In short, work with them as a business
partner ? you both will experience
the same pain.

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