How technology helps you clear the biggest hurdles in government contracting
- By Carol Craig
- Mar 31, 2016
Anyone reading this column understands all too well the challenges that come along with pursuing and acquiring government contracts. There are common pain points that every government contractor experiences - primarily tied to time, money and staff resources - but few innovations to solve these issues. Yet, those three challenges can determine the success or failure of a business.
Those of us that have walked the halls of nearly any federal agency, Congress or even a state legislative offices know that - from dated technology to dated processes (and furniture) - government tends to operate the same way it always has. This does lead to cost-savings, however, so it makes sense why change can be slower in this sector.
For contractors, it’s not necessary to follow legacy processes and procedures when managing the government bid process. There are solutions available to solve those three major hurdles -- over-expenditure of time, staff and resources. For a small-to-midsize contractor who may be low on those resources, these technology solutions can make all the difference in your long-term sustainability.
Challenge #1 - Time
Manually searching for request for proposals (RFPs) can be a full time job. Tracking opportunities through government feeds using Excel spreadsheets wastes valuable work time. There are sites available – such as FedBizOpps, GovWin, etc. – that have up-to-date award information, but still require capture managers to hunt down and sort through hundreds of RFPs that may or may not be relevant to their business.
Once an opportunity is identified, managers must proactively keep an eye on each individual opportunity for addendums, content changes, Q&As and other dynamic information.
For smaller companies, keeping up with this process can be difficult. For larger companies, there is an additional issue - overlapping targets. It is common during the initial RFP hunt for more than one capture manager to pursue and research the same opportunity. Imagine how much time is wasted in that scenario!
Overlapping focus is reflective of another problem – lack of a collaborative process. Government RFPs often have very rapid due dates so, when the right one is chosen to pursue, capture managers need to put together a proposal quickly. When everything is done manually and without a workflow in place, staff may miss a crucial step. This will inevitably slow down the whole project, or may even cause you to lose the bid.
Current technology now allows for task lists to be streamlined electronically, effectively creating an automated process. Additionally, some of these newer software solutions auto-populate current data from bid sources and pull all relevant opportunities into a single funnel (by NAICS, keywords, etc.).
Challenge #2 - Money
Capture managers work late nights and many overtime hours to find and pursue the right contracts for their company. Those hours (especially overtime) result in large expenditures over time. This also can take a toll on productivity and motivation. To be successful, we need to work smarter, not harder.
There are some fantastic aggregators available now to filter opportunities that are a direct fit for your business. The automation of this function alone can save many hours of staff time and increase the probability of winning.
Challenge #3 - Resources
To pursue the maximum number of opportunities, effective resource allocation must be in place. According to USASpending.gov, in 2015 the government spent $437 billion on contracting. Are you taking advantage of all those opportunities? Without the proper use of resources, you’re likely missing many.
Lacking a single space for communication between contributors can also be a problem. Collaboration between staff and departments is critical to getting a successful bid out on time.
Luckily, modern technology is bringing about software that tackles all of the challenges we face as government contractors. And… because we are not government agencies… we can quickly and easily adopt these solutions to immediately start saving time, money and resources.
I urge all businesses take a look at some of these new solutions as we have done. We are using a solution called ProDash in our offices right now and saving significant time and money doing so (and winning more contracts as a result). In addition to ProDash, a few of the other programs available today include GovTribe and GovBD.
Automation is the key for government contractors to maximize their business development efforts and increase awards. It’s time to join the movement and increase your return on investment by applying these tools.
Carol Craig is the founder and CEO of Craig Technologies, a $45 million government contract based in Cape Canaveral, Fla.