By: Bob Burnett, Vice President of Business Development
If you were to distill government contracting into two macro buckets, you would end up with two categories, pursuing work and doing work.
For Business Development (BD) professionals, the pursuing work phase is where we live and breathe; despite that, we know that work is won or lost based on the doing work phase. Performance on current tasking is what drives increased technical capability, a great reputation, and highly rated Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) from our clients. So, while BD folks may get the glory for “winning” new work, it is the day-in and day-out performance of Operations that really positions firms for the win.
From this train of logic, one might inquire as to how a government contracting company can set itself up for better performance during the doing phase. Below, we discuss one approach that has been instrumental in our ongoing project success.
Plan Ahead & Maintain Momentum
What is often overlooked in the two-category example noted above is the extremely important gap between pursuing and doing: the “awaiting award” time period. Put rather simply, the actual government contracting flow of activity looks more like this: a firm (1) pursues and then bids on work, (2) waits for award notification, and (3) starts working upon award and continues throughout the period of performance. The waiting period tests patience and can lull companies into a false sense that there is no more work to be done “until award.”
Our mentality at VectorCSP is that the time between proposal submittal and award notification is the perfect time to ramp up support. Also known as the Contract Transition phase, our BD, Admin, and Operations teams work together to ensure we are fully prepared to begin supporting the new work upon award. This includes development of a transition plan citing the key activities of all stakeholders, as well as a notional timeline of events that must occur before, and immediately following, award. Recruiting status, correspondence with/from the government, teaming correspondence, and infrastructure build-out details are all shared among the stakeholders and tracked by a Transition Manager. At VectorCSP, the Transition Manager is typically the person on the Operations side of our business who will eventually manage the work…they have a vested interest in setting the project up for success. The duration of the transition phase varies and can be as short as a few weeks to as long as several months (or years at times). Embracing the transition approach ensures that no one loses sight of the requirements and that we are ready to support the new work regardless of how long it takes for the award announcement to be made.
Every contract transition is slightly different, but to be effective, all contract transitions require good planning, consistent communications, and a strong desire to put your best foot forward. We view the contract transition as a key to our ability to begin work immediately upon award with the fully-qualified staff and project support infrastructure required. This time period is also a great opportunity to cement the unified vision between our BD, Admin, and Operations personnel for how we will successfully support the new work upon award and for years to come. For us, this “waiting” time builds collegial internal bonds and allows for a great first day on task…something all of our current clients appreciate.