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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

4 ways to prepare for the Trump administration

The concept having a Plan B is a familiar one in the business world, but for the next year or so, companies in the government market might be wise to also have a Plan C and D.

So little is known right now about what the Trump administration will bring. We know the broad strokes: more defense spending, more focus on immigration enforcement. Obviously, more cybersecurity.

But beyond the 50,000-foot level, few details have emerged, particularly any that will translate into business opportunities for government contractors.

Still, contractors should focus on four things, according to Deniece Peterson, federal industry analyst for Deltek:

  • Defend current programs
  • Re-evaluate corporate strategies
  • Track government leadership changes
  • Position the company for the future

She was speaking at Deltek’s FedFocus event on Monday.

While contractors face uncertainty, so do government customers, who don’t know who their senior leaders will be and what new priorities might be foisted on them.

As new leaders come in, contractors should expect many programs to evaluated and assessed, so it is important to look for ways to support your customers in this process, she said.

“There will be a lot of information gathering that will take place,” Peterson said. “You need to create a narrative to support your programs.”

For programs under pressure, you should help your customer by presenting alternatives. “You need that plan B or C,” she said.

It is also important to identify who the evangelists for your program are and if that person is leaving, who is there to step into that role.

“If your customer is feeling shaky, how can you support them?” she said

Re-evaluating corporate strategies can take several turns. For Peterson, company leaders need to track administration priorities and map them to offerings and corporate portfolios. Where is your footprint? What are your marketing and teaming strategies?

But for Kevin DeSanto, another panelist at FedFocus, there are steps companies should be taking right now.

Now, more than ever before, companies in the government market need to decide what kind of business they are going to be, said DeSanto, managing director of the investment bank KippsDeSanto. And that doesn’t mean deciding what kind of opportunities to chance or market niches to pursue.

For DeSanto, company leaders need to think about what their goals are. Do they want a business that creates a strong cash flow? Are they trying to create value for shareholders? Are they looking for liquidity? Or are they trying to build a business for the long haul?

One of the biggest challenges will be tracking agencies' leadership. The top levels will be obvious, but it is even more important to track the appointments at lower levels at the department and agencies. There are more than 4,000 political appointees.

While Congress isn’t expected to have as many changes, it would be wise to follow what is happening on Capitol Hill because new leaders may emerge that want to take on issues close to contracting, she said.

As companies look to the future, they need to realize that it might take 18 to 24 months before all of the appointed positions are filled, so relationship building has to be an ongoing process, Peterson said.

As people leave government over the next two years, there will be opportunities to make strategic hires of people with deep domain expertise.

At the same time, contractors need to be prepared for inexperienced leaders coming into government who will need help and time to get up to speed. Contractors can play a role in that, she said.

From Peterson’s presentation and other FedFocus speakers, the main watch word for contractors seems to be vigilance and flexibility. A lot of change is about to happen, so you need to watch the Trump announcements, department and agency appointments and departures from government.

There will be activity on Capitol Hill as it works on fiscal 2017 appropriations and beyond.

And of course, you have to keep delivering on current projects and bid on new ones. You need to deal with bid protests, LPTA and overworked and understaffed customers.

As Peterson said, “Government contracting isn’t for the faint of heart.”

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 15, 2016 at 10:02 AM

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