OPINION

Make your teaming strategy central to your capture process

The questions thrown about the conference rooms and offices of government contractors around the Beltway and across the country are the same: What’s our proposal strategy? Our pricing strategy? What's our staffing plan?

These are the critical questions that small and large contractors should be asking themselves before the solicitation is even issued. Thinking about these questions before the solicitation is issued is the hallmark of effective capture and increases the company’s probability of winning the work.

But there’s one question that receives far too little attention given its complexity and centrality to business strategy for those in the government contracting market:

What’s our teaming strategy?

Putting together a compelling proposal at the right price point with the best staff is an important part of the recipe of winning--and successfully executing--government work. But there are professionals who have mastered these activities--proposal writing, pricing-to-win analysis, and human capital management.

There are great networkers out there, too, and any business development professional worth his or her salt will be an extraordinary networker. But the current system of contractor teaming--the method by which prime and subcontractors connect, bid, and execute work--is broken and ripe for innovation.

The current system is an inefficient way of finding teaming partners because the volume of businesses who contract with the U.S.Government is so large. Even the best professional network will leave valuable partnerships on the table, simply because they don’t know what’s out there. It is limited by individual professional networks, the databases of in-house business development shops, the ability to repurpose existing partnerships, and—in times of severe desperation—Google searches.

As Washington Technology Editor Nick Wakeman noted, the recent Washington Technology Insider Report report concluded that while contractor teaming will remain an important part of the competitive landscape, prime and subcontractor relationships are frequently plagued by a lack of transparency and mistrust.

Having worked for two Fortune 500 government contractors, I have seen first-hand the tremendous value that great contractor teams can provide to their government customers and the taxpayer. I have also seen the dysfunction, poor contract execution, and reputational damage caused by bad contractor teams. In these instances, the teaming agreement was more akin to an 11th hour, “arranged marriage” than a strategic business relationship based on capabilities, trust, and mutual benefit.

Frequently, business development dollars are squandered pursuing partnerships that are simply not a good fit, resulting in too many “arranged marriages” based on desperation instead of sound business strategy. Even if the contractor team wins the contract, the results of the poor fit are likely to manifest themselves during contract delivery and execution. But the long-term consequences are even more significant and can include reputational damage to the brand and loss of future revenue.

Fortunately, we're at a point technologically where we can use data to help companies form better partnerships. Teaming 2.0 is the future of contractor teaming in the government contracting market. Using targeted, data-driven searches is the next logical evolution in business-to-business networking and connecting prime and subcontractors. You can read more in this white paper here.

Small and large businesses in the government contracting market can dramatically increase the value of these partnerships by making teaming a critical dimension of their existing capture and business strategy work. Questions of teaming and joint venturing should occupy a prominent role in almost all business development discussions. Such dedicated thought will lead to a competitive advantage in a market where questions of teaming and partnering are often neglected.

About the Author

Tom Skypek is the co-founder and CEO of GovBizConnect, which helps government contractors find great teaming partners.

Reader Comments

Wed, May 27, 2015

Tom,
All, and I mean Every "Fortune 500 government contractor" has had grievous problems with teaming, beginning with shorting the sub, obscuring arrangements with the sub from the USG, meshing capabilities for delivery, and dealing with administrative and contractual compliance. How is your experience going to help you?

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