Partnering advice from FOSE
One of the perennial issues for contractors in the government market is partnering.
For small businesses it is about connecting with large companies, and for the bigger players it is about finding partners to fill a variety of customer and technology niches as well as comply with small business goals.
I co-hosted a panel on partnering on Tuesday with Shawn McCarthy of Government Insights. The panel at the FOSE trade show in Washington, D.C., (disclosure – Washington Technology and FOSE are owned by 1105 Government Information Group) brought executives from large, small and midtier companies.
The panel consisted of Tracy Denny, vice president of strategic capture management at Serco, Cari Dorman, director of business development, IT infrastructure solutions at CSC, Heidi Gerding, president and chief executive officer, HeiTech Services Inc., and Michael Mullen, vice president, Indus Corp.
Gerding’s company and Serco are in a mentor protégé relationship that Serco inherited when it acquired SI International last year.
While the turnout could have been larger, the advice was stellar.
Here are some highlights.
If you are a small business looking to partner, focus on particular areas of expertise; don’t say you do everything. “You need to be able to say why you are better than any other partner we could bring in,” Denny said.
Small businesses need to be ready to deliver right away, Mullen said.
In looking at both large and small business partners, Gerding said she uses tools such as Dun & Bradstreet. “I check their credit; do they pay bills on time; will they pay me on time,” she said. “I can’t afford cash flow problems.”
For a small business, approaching a large business is similar to approaching a government agency. “You need to understand their needs and their pain points,” Mullen said.
If you can identify a specific opportunity where your small business can help win, you need to highlight that when you approach the large business, Dorman said.
That kind of information is critical in mapping a proposal strategy. Dorman said she maps that information to statements of work in a request for proposals to determine who the best teammates should be.
Some specific technologies the companies are looking at include: Cloud computing, which is big at FOSE this year; cybersecurity; and social media, particularly collaboration tools, which are starting to gain traction.
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 10, 2009 at 7:22 PM