Opportunity Pipeline Series – Part 2: Pipeline Stakeholders

By: Damien Walz, Vice President of Business Development

In part two of our pipeline series, we’ll take a look at the divisions and people in a company who can and should use the pipeline as a useful and vital planning tool.

Business Development – given the sheer number of opportunities federal contractors must chase in order to realize actual work (contracts), it is crucial that companies maintain a central repository to keep track of it all. Business Development (BD) is continually on the hunt for new opportunities and is typically the primary source for pipeline growth. Having daily access to up-to-date pipeline information drives the action in BD. The pipeline identifies near-term deals that need BD attention. Bid & Proposal (B&P) resource planning flows directly from the pipeline. Additionally, BD, working with Finance, should use the pipeline to identify potential trouble spots (e.g., low proposal volume during revenue decreases), that additional pipeline stocking could address.

Finance – VectorCSP’s CFO continually monitors the pipeline to plan for revenue projections beyond booked work, budget building based on anticipated profitability, and B&P pricing drills. While the pipeline is never 100% complete or 100% accurate, it can be used to support financial projections. Finance needs to know that a $15M deal is going to be awarded so they can plan accordingly. Additionally, Finance’s intimacy with the pipeline provides a necessary truth-check for BD and Operations, both of which tend to be overly optimistic about things like contract values and timelines.

Operations – in addition to day-to-day delivery on contracts, Operations must be actively working in preparation for the next job they are required to execute. Every opportunity on the pipeline needs to have an Operations point of contact…someone who will transition new work into the company. Operations leadership must maintain awareness of their portfolios’ health and work hand-in-hand with BD to stock the pipeline with future opportunities to not only stem potential losses, but also grow the business. Further, Operations must ensure the representation of all the booked work in their portfolios is on the pipeline, as recompetes often come sooner than you think.

Human Resources – as a key function of Human Resources (HR) is successfully bringing new employees into the company, the pipeline serves as an important data point for planning. HR professionals need to know how many FTE in which labor categories need to be recruited during capture and B&P. They can use the pipeline to recognize the need for recruiting activities in new markets to address the staffing needs of several planned bids. HR must be prepared to fully staff the jobs we win, and the pipeline gives them key indicators (magnitude of the deal or how many FTE and anticipated contract award date) to be ready.

IT, Security, and Admin – the pipeline drives IT and Security (the Facility Security Officer, FSO) to engage BD and Operations on particular deals about the implications of a win. If we win this deal, does everyone need a new laptop or phone? What level of security clearance do folks need for this job? Adjusting your pipeline to capture this type of data or having the mechanisms in place to prompt the right conversations is crucial. Further, when you win that $15M contract, where do all of those new employees sit? How many folks need to go through new employee orientation? How many company lanyards and shirts do you need? The pipeline is the central source that initiates vital planning on these fronts.

As different parts of the organization come to rely on the pipeline for business planning activities, the more important it is that the pipeline is accurate and current. As more people engage the pipeline, there will be more questions and the data will get better. Further, as more people engage the pipeline, the quality of the conversations about opportunities improves, as there is a common lexicon and understanding across the enterprise. Regardless of the shape your company’s pipeline takes, know that the more eyeballs you drive to the pipeline, the more it will become the central artery for business growth.

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