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Friday, August 10, 2018

SMALL BUSINESS TEAMING IN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING

Image:  Cosential - Teaming to the Top: CRM is the Secret Weapon for Subconsultants
 INTRODUCTION:

While developing a government marketing plan, teaming with other companies is a productive venue for the small business. This article will convey general guidance pertinent to teaming and explore the types of teaming used successfully by small business federal government contractors.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

Synergism is paramount in teaming with any size company, whether in a lead or subcontracting role. There should be technical, management and market segment similarities between you and any company with whom you are considering teaming. Your prospective team member ideally will not be a direct competitor; rather a business in a related field with whom you share a mutual need for each other's contributions in pursuing large-scale projects.

Relationships must be developed with primes and other small businesses that can help you, team with you and keep you in mind as they search for success. That takes time, patience and open-minded, out of the box thinking. It also takes more than a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), a teaming agreement (TA) and a proposal to succeed. It takes dynamic marketing and communication with strong partners and hard, innovative work. Nice buzz words you say - but it is the truth and you have to find what that truth means to you.

Successful teaming for a specific program occurs early. Very few astute teams in government contracting are formed after a solicitation is formally published on FEDBIZOPPS. Checking the "Interested Parties" block of a solicitation there and attempting to form or join a team is generally too late to effectively achieve a cohesive relationship, agreement and a win strategy by the time the proposal is due.

A size factor need not be a deterrent if you use contingent hire agreements, aspire to take over incumbent work forces in existing government operations or keep yourself open as a partner to a multiple number of primes and synergistic small businesses who are not direct competitors but with whom teaming will permit chasing larger procurements than any one small business could pursue. You can also grow into security clearances, as individuals and as a company with government agency sponsorship through already cleared companies.

In making contacts with larger firms you may have to go through the "Gate Keepers", such as the small business liaison officer, the registration boxes at web sites, a purchasing agent or a contracts person to get to the program people with the real decision making authority. Give the gate keepers their due, since you may end up working with them later.

Nothing makes a prospective small business or a large business teaming partner perk up like a real hot lead on a program. If you can offer a "Carrot on a Stick" such as an opportunity that they cannot access other than through you, it will get their attention. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) should be signed before the discrete information on the job is disclosed. Please see the following article on NDA's and Teaming Agreements as documents and protecting your associated intellectual property:

Protecting Intellectual Property


SUBCONTRACTING TO ANOTHER COMPANY

In teaming as a subcontractor with other companies your goal is to sign a teaming agreement with a prime contractor for a prospective program. You prepare your proposal and submit it to the prime contractor who incorporates it into his submission to the government. Your submission contains flow down terms and conditions from the prime's proposal as well as a technical description of the effort you intend to perform. Your cost proposal to the prime contains fully loaded rates for the labor categories and material as well as the travel you will perform on the subcontract. The government awards the prime contract to your team member. You then undertake negotiations with the prime to convert your teaming agreement to a subcontract. 

The subcontract will replace the teaming agreement between you and your prime and contract performance can then commence.

Be especially careful in negotiating the attachment to a teaming agreement which identifies the scope of work which you will perform. Insure it has sufficient detail in terms of labor categories, % of the program (both hours and dollars) a discrete description of your effort, and any additional assurances you need to feel comfortable with the deal.

Keep on mind that a teaming agreement is an agreement to agree. It is not a contract and rarely enforceable in a court of law. That means you must negotiate your contract upon award and in many cases the prime may pressure you to lower your rates, decrease your share of the program or otherwise depart from the teaming agreement when your subcontract is finalized. Your business acumen will come into play during that transition. For tips please see the following link:

Contract Negotiation

BECOMING A PRIME CONTRACTOR

As a prime contractor you sign a teaming agreement with a subcontractor during the RFP stage of a solicitation. Your subcontractor prepares a proposal and submits it to you. You incorporate it into the prime contract proposal to the government. You negotiate flow down versions of terms and conditions from your federal contract to the subcontractor as well as a technical description of the effort the subcontractor will perform. The subcontractor's cost proposal contains fully loaded rates for the labor categories and material as well as the travel he intends to perform on the subcontract. The government awards the prime contract to you. You undertake negotiations with the subcontractor to convert the teaming agreement to a subcontract. The subcontract will replace the teaming agreement between you and your subcontractor.

Your role as a prime may be the result of your status a small business, a woman-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned business under a program set-aside to one of those designations. It is usually best to subcontract no more than a 40% share of the total business to firms with whom you are teaming to avoid the appearance of a front. The statutory requirement is 51% to the prime in these types of programs but you need to convey strength as a prime in terms of resources to be deemed a winner by the government source selection board.

If the program you are bidding is a negotiable procurement it is preferable to negotiate subcontracts with team members before you negotiate your final contract with the government. Going into negotiations with the government having definitized your subcontracts reduces your risk in terms of unknowns contractually at the supplier level. It also eliminates the subcontractor wanting to know the result of your prime contract negotiations so that he can use it as a frame of reference for his negotiation position with you. The baseline when you go to the table with your subcontractor is your teaming agreement specifying his statement of work and your collective proposal to the government containing the prospective cost and price for his effort as part of the total proposal.

SUMMARY

There are many subsidiary forms of the above basic teaming approaches. You can join multi-company teams under a major prime on IDIQ umbrella contracts of long duration. You can bid a team effort using your GSA Schedule.

Although the Federal Mentor-Protégé Program is a fine vehicle, keep other options open at the same time you pursue a long term teaming partner in that venue.

Joint ventures are difficult for small and start-up companies. They are made up of resources from both companies, yet a JV exists as separate legal entity and is complex to administer. A joint venture agreement is a special form of teaming agreement subject to approval by the government agency with whom the JV is contracting. JV's are usually managed by a JV Board and include administrative costs and billing nuances associated with a "3rd Entity" that many firms find difficult to manage.

If you are in a prime contractor role you have an additional management challenge in being accountable for the performance of your subcontractors and flowing down the terms, conditions and performance requirements under which you are being contracted by the government. Your customer expects effective subcontractor management. Proposal preparation imposes a substantial burden on the prime contractor because the prime must integrate, assemble, package and deliver the final submission after receipt of data from the subcontractor(s).

Keep in mind that you may be exclusively teaming with a company on certain procurements and competing against them on others. Protect your intellectual property, only exchange fully loaded rate information and keep the relationship professional at all times.
Your reputation as a reputable team member in the small business federal government contracting community is important. Be selective and high performing in this area. Agencies, past performance data bases and other companies will be observing you, recording your performance and passing the word along to others directly and indirectly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

10 MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SMALL BUSINESS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING



INTRODUCTION

This article will address 10 misleading or erroneous impressions that small enterprises commonly hold regarding doing business under federal government contracts.  It is our hope that correcting these misconceptions will assist companies considering entering the venue and help those who are already in the field to improve.

MISCONCEPTIONS

1. It is easy to become established in the federal marketplace by founding a start up in small business contracting to the federal government

Very few do so. The principle reason for this is lack of past performance records either commercially or as a registered government contractor.  Past performance is a major factor in awarding government contracts:

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2008/07/small-business-government-contracting.html

Small enterprises who succeed in federal government contracting usually have a sustaining commercial business as ongoing support while they learn federal contracting bid, proposal, and pricing, industry teaming and marketing techniques.

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2013/01/your-entry-points-into-small-business.html

2. Federal government contracting is just like local and state contracting

It is not.  Every local and state government agency has their own set of rules and contracting techniques.  Although states must meet federal law with regard to interstate trade, EEO and similar matters, they are given wide latitude by the federal government. Most state and local or municipal agencies are very dissimilar in the specifics of how they conduct procurements and are strongly influenced by community ordinances and state law. 

Federal government contracting has its own set of specific rules (The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and  Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) which cross all agencies.  Small business must understand how these rules affect their doing business at the federal level.

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2012/09/what-small-business-should-know-about.html

3. Business can be conducted at the federal level without significant process changes from commercial practices

To succeed in federal contracting the small enterprise must implement processes such as GSA pricing, job cost accounting, forward pricing rates and related matters that are not common in the commercial venue. This takes research, time and process/business systems implementation that many firms overlook until they realize, through hard experience, that they must develop them on the fly to succeed.  Federal government contracting is not rocket science but it is different than commercial contracting.

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2009/09/federal-government-contracting-small.html

4. Federal government contracting can begin immediately after registration

This is a hypothetical possibility but not realistic.  Registration simply self-certifies a small business to compete, establishes a Central Contractor Registration (CCR) Number and a Federal CAGE Code for the firm.  Agencies do not go looking for registered firms to do business with them.  A niche must be located by the prospective contractor in the form of an agency requirement that fits the company. Or the company must locate industry team member (s) that can use capabilities available from the newcomer.  Very small enterprises achieve these objectives to a large scale degree within their first year of pursuing contracts with the federal government.

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2009/09/federal-government-contracting-small.html

5.  All federal government contracting agencies are the same

Not so. Department of Defense (DOD)  contracting, for instance is very different than contracting with  civil agencies like the FAA.  The technical requirements, environment and security factors vary dramatically even though they use the same contracting rule book. The seller must market to the agency that has the greatest need for the product or service offered and team with industry partners who can enhance the potential of the small business in collaborative efforts. Section I, “Contract Clauses” at the below link illustrates some of the FAR Agency Supplements that apply overall FAR guidance within specific agencies.

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2007/11/federal-government-contract-format.html

6. Small Business set aside designations will yield immediate business

Self-certifying as a minority-owned,  woman-owned, veteran-owned or disabled, veteran- owned business allows a firm to compete with other companies who have the same designation. At times this involves substantial competition.   Achieving a government certification as a small-disadvantaged 8(a) or HUB Zone enterprise may allow set-aside contracts without competition, but such awards are becoming rare, harder to justify by the government and are monitored closely for competitive possibility by oversight functionaries. 

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2009/06/federal-government-contracting-small.html

7. Federal government contracting can be undertaken by a company on a stand-alone basis

This is only true for companies with very unique, off the shelf products involving small buys.  Even then, knowledge of the industry and networking with other firms dramatically increases the possibility of expanding sales.  Relationships must be developed with primes and other small businesses that can help the small firm, team with with it and keep it in mind as they search for success. That takes time, patience and open-minded, out of the box thinking.

Synergism is paramount in teaming with any size company, whether in a lead or subcontracting role. There should be technical, management and market segment similarities between the small business and any company with whom it  is considering teaming. A prospective team member ideally will not be a direct competitor; rather a business in a related field with whom the small enterprise shares a mutual need for each others contributions in pursuing large-scale projects.

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2009/05/small-business-teamiing-in-government.html

8. Small Businesses receiving set aside contract awards from the federal government can subcontract all the work to other, larger and established enterprises

Companies obtaining small business set aside awards must be capable under the law of performing a minimum of 51% of the required effort internal to their organization.The quantitative measurements the government uses to gauge this rule are the work scope, hours and dollars content of the prospective contract.

9. Obtaining a GSA schedule guarantees new business

A GSA schedule permits a quick ordering process for  federal and state clients. In dealings with prime contractors to which the small firm aspires to subcontract a GSA schedule is valid pricing which can be readily included in proposals to government agencies. A GSA schedule facilitates teaming with other synergistic small companies in proposing large scale efforts.

However, a GSA schedule does not guarantee new business will come. Very few companies await government agencies to find them by searching the GSA data base. To succeed, small businesses must actively market their schedule to targeted agencies as an expedient way to contract with them or as a qualification criterion for new business awards.

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2007/05/achieving-and-utilizing-gsa-schedule.html

10.  FEDBIZOPPS is the best way to identify, bid and obtain federal government business 

Often misunderstood, is that much has occurred in the way of marketing activities by companies in advance of notices formally published by the government on FEDBIZOPPS. By the time the formal, solicitation is published it is too late to market for setting a procurement aside for a small business designation if it has not already been established as such. In addition, formal solicitation publication closes the window on self-marketing by HUB Zone and 8(a) firms for set asides to them individually without competition. In short, businesses have been marketing for a requirement long before it became formally announced at FEDBIZOPPS.

Finding a solicitation that is ideal for a company for the first time on FEDBIZOPPS is excellent market research insight into what the agency publishing the requirement is buying. However, a careful bid/no bid analysis should be conducted as to whether it is prudent to go through the expense of a proposal if the opportunity has not been a new business target for the firm earlier in the game.

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2009/09/what-small-business-should-know-about.html

SUMMARY:

Federal government contracting is not a quick process; but for many it can provide a steady cash flow and potential growth.  

To succeed, a carefully constructed, relationship-driven, marketing and business operations program must be developed, tailored to the federal environment. The program must include adequate research and preparation with respect to bid decisions, teaming, proposal preparation pricing and business system requirements. 

http://www.smalltofeds.com/2009/07/multiple-front-marketing-in-small.html





Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Acquiring An Incumbent Work Force As An Element Of Winning A Government Contract

Opportunities and Challenges for the Small Business

INTRODUCTION

During the course of marketing to the federal government the small business will encounter opportunities involving potential for acquiring an incumbent work force as an element of winning a contract.  The acquisition of existing personnel already performing on a service contract is a way to exponentially grow a small enterprise. 

The purpose of this article is to discuss the acquisition of an incumbent work force and effectively managing the associated potential and challenges.

BACKGROUND

We have previously discussed planning and business systems for service contracting at the following postings:

The above articles discuss basic business organization and systems necessary to support the service contracting environment and bring an incumbent workforce into a company.

HOW INCUMBENT WORK FORCES ARE PROPOSED

Your market research into future acquisitions in the service contracting industry to the federal government will lead you to existing work forces subject to assumption by a winning contractor.
Base operations contracts, long term service contracts of an IDIQ nature and similar programs have competitive phases or are re-designated for a small business prime contractor if the government deems a pool of qualified companies is available to compete. Researching potential programs of this nature and marketing them is discussed in the following article:

 http://www.smalltofeds.com/2011/10/marketing-to-achieve-small-business-set.html

In some instances a larger contractor holding the existing work force is displaced from a program to meet agency statutory requirements for contracting to small business or because the existing contractor has grown to exceed the size standard for a small business on the program.  

Under these conditions a teaming arrangement may be possible with the departing contractor,resulting his assuming a lesser role in the effort (we suggest no more than 40%) as a subcontractor to you.  Do so only if the company is highly regarded by the customer from a past performance perspective and when you can negotiate an exclusive arrangement with him during the proposal phase of the program. Teaming arrangements are discussed at the following posting:

 http://www.smalltofeds.com/2009/05/small-business-teamiing-in-government.html

If a teaming arrangement cannot be achieved with the existing incumbent you must gain access to the incumbent personnel salary history and benefits to effectively bid the program for the out years in response to a solicitation.  Speculating on what the personnel make or relying on the government or the incumbent to provide the data is risky. Although some solicitations will provide a government “Wage/Rate Determination”, that document is the minimum and seldom represents the actual salaries of the employees. The only other meaningful document commonly provided is a union bargaining agreement still in force. 

Some companies will publish a help wanted advertisement in the local paper and invite the incumbent personnel to attend an off site open house, asking for sign offs on contingent hire agreements for use in the proposal, together with resumes:

It is important to remember that although the RFP may go so far as to say incumbent personnel have first rights of refusal for future positions, you are not legally obligated to hire what you feel are poor performers. You will, however, have to specify your criteria for personnel selection in your proposal and, especially for personnel the government has listed as “Key” in the RFP, explain how you intend to utilize existing people or bring in new ones. 

The competitive environment on a given procurement will drive how much you disclose in the way of openness in terms of publicly announcing your intentions to bid and acquire the personnel data you need to do so effectively.  You must conduct effective research and propose a winning wage and fringe package that appeals, not only to the personnel you wish to retain, but also to your customer.
Do not count on gaining access to incumbents through the government or being able to go on government property to interview them.  In most instances you will not be allowed to do
so or it would compromise your proposal from a conflict of interest perspective if you did. 

 A TRANSITION PLAN IS KEY

A winning proposal will have solid plans for recruiting and retaining the existing work force, executing a transition plan and insuring that the government does not encounter an interruption in services.

 Carefully analyze the solicitation requirements for elements for which the government expects to see a response pertinent to incumbent personnel. Prepare a graphic schedule and specific set of activities to transition the incumbent personnel to your company after contract award. Make sure the activities are overlaid upon the technical and management schedules elsewhere in your proposal and supports them. 

Your transition plan topics should address administrative, human resources, training and similar factors to insure a seamless process.  

SUMMARY

Acquiring an incumbent work force poses both opportunities and risks for a small enterprise.  Understanding the above factors and assessing your ability to manage the challenge will best prepare you for the decision whether or not to bid such a program. 


Sunday, August 5, 2018

10 GOLDEN RULES FOR SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS



1. Do not promise what you cannot deliver

2. Do not overextend your resources and get a reputation for poor performance.

3. Do not tell the customer what he or she wants to hear. Tell them what they need to know. They will respect you for it.

4. Network constantly on professional sites such as Linked InQuoraOpen Forum , Alignable and others.  Use Groups and Q&A 
features to accumulate an "Expert" rating from  peers in your field. 

5. Blog like there is no tomorrow. A blog is quite different than a web site. Provide good, solid information free of charge and use blog searches for synergistic businesses to team with. Teaming is an absolute necessity these days.

6. Be prepared to provide information, samples and valuable service gratis as a marketing tool. Introduce yourself and then immediately engage the client with your presentation tools available to bring your expertise to whatever topic they are interested in. Let them take you where they want to go with their concerns and their needs. Apply your presentation tools and expertise dynamically on the fly in a sincere manner to those concerns and needs and you will be in demand for follow up business.

7. Quote and bill what the client can afford and grow with him (in content and resources).

8. Be dedicated to working yourself out of a job with a specific customer and having your client take over by training him. He will remember you and recommend you to 10 others.

9. Remember growth is a function of persistence and foresight. Know where your market is headed and get their first - then write and speak about your success indirectly by helping others. Demonstrate humility and a satisfaction in helping others succeed. They will find ways to give you credit. There are ways of tooting your horn without making peoples' lights go out.

10. Word of mouth advertising from pleased clients is a sure ticket to success.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

New Federal Fiscal Year - Have You Managed Contract Funding Risk?


INTRODUCTION

As the federal fiscal year draws to a close and the new year opens on 1 October, an astute contractor will have examined the funding status of all government contracts for risk.

Limitation of funds and funding exposure must be a vital topic for every government contractor.

THE FUNDING CHALLENGE

Many federal contracts are funded incrementally, usually based on the government fiscal year that runs from 1 October to 30 September. Although the government may negotiate dollar price ceilings for cost plus and time and materials contracts or firm, fixed total price arrangements, the contracts themselves may be incrementally funded, particularly if they extend over two government fiscal years. A contract may contain negotiated prices or a cost ceiling but also specify an incremental funding value.

The contractor is required to inform the government when actual costs incurred plus obligations to suppliers or payroll on a specific contract reach certain thresholds of the current incremental funding specified in the contract (usually 80%). The government is then obligated to further fund the contract. 

In the event the contract is not funded further, the contractor has the right to stop work before he exceeds the incremental funding. Some contractors choose to operate on "risk," continuing to perform on a contract while exceeding the incremental funding in booked cost and obligations. 

The government is under no obligation to reimburse the contractor for invoiced amounts exceeding incremental funding. Nearing the end of a government fiscal year, a contractor may find delays in funding reaching all the way to congress. This situation must be managed with the government contracting officer. Limitation of Funds and Funding Exposure

STOP WORK ORDER

In the current political climate with Sequestration still in vogue and new fiscal year appropriations being incrementally approved by Congress, contractors may receive stop work orders from agencies unless their contracts were fully funded in the previous fiscal year.   Even then, the government reserves the right to de-obligate funding on contracts, which can effectively bring them to a halt. 


Stop work orders are serious matters and require special handling to comply with government direction and manage the associated financial risk. 

Upon receipt of a stop work order you have no guarantee of payment for any transaction date-stamped in your accounting system after the date of the stop work order (or the commencement date of a stop work order specified in a Contracting Officer's Letter).

Applicable charge numbers in the accounting system must be closed until the stop work order is lifted and any effected suppliers and subcontractors must be notified to do the same.

To the degree the government has made progress payments or has any other form of payment invested in a physical product to date it has ownership rights. If that is the case, treat the physical material work-in-process as government owned, store it as such without performing any more effort on it and await further disposition.

To the degree the government has not paid anything on the contract or delivery order they have no ownership rights to the physical product and you are free to complete it and sell it to another customer (commercial or government that has not stopped work). If the government recommences the order, quote a new price and delivery from ground zero.

At the bottom line a stop work is blunt and to the point.  Treat it as if you will never hear from this customer again to manage the risk.

To the degree you do hear from the Contracting Officer again and he or she has the funding to recommence work, be prepared to submit a proposal for what it will take to start the effort and a realistic delivery schedule to complete it, but do not build any retroactive costs incurred during the stop work period into your logic and expect to bill them; they may not come to payment fruition. 

Continuing effort on a contract after receipt of a stop work is high risk. Astutely managing your options is a far better approach.   What is a Government Contract Stop Work Order?

SUMMARY

Having a limitation of funds and funding exposure process in the company should be a standard part of doing business.  A, shrinking, remaining funding level condition on incrementally funded contracts should trigger a risk analysis and government notification process throughout the year.  The federal fiscal year-end brings an additional element of risk to the process with the annual budgeting, approval and appropriations process required by law. 









Friday, August 3, 2018

10 TIPS TO EXPAND YOUR CLIENT BASE MIX FOR STABILITY IN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING

Image:"grindstone.com"


1. A mix of commercial and government business is good. In fact, most small business federal government contractors who move from commercial to government work, remain in  commercial business.  They separate government from commercial work in unique cost centers of the company for pricing and cost control purposes, recognizing the market and competitive differences in the two venues.

 Cost Center Strategic Planning 

2. Your marketing efforts must be sensitized to swings in world events, geopolitics, domestic priorities and technology trends. 
 
3. The over 100 federal government agencies all have the same small business contracting requirement under the law. Focus on government contacting applications for your core business by exploring agencies on FEDBIZOPPS other than those with whom you have been doing business.

WHAT SMALL BUSINESS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT "FEDBIZOPPS.GOV" - THE FEDERAL BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES WEB SITE  
 
4. Industry partners are an excellent way to move into new fields.


Small Business Teaming 

5. Keep an eye on USA Spends and a close view of the domestic vs. foreign emphasis in the federal budget.  (War vs. bridge repairs). 

 USA Spends

6. Remember there is not much agencies of the federal government do not buy and they buy in huge quantities. 

 7. If your high-end navy IT customer requires support, security or related services, it is likely his or her counterpart in the Department of Agriculture or Health and Human services requires the same expertise.   This rule holds true for other services as well.

8. Maintain Your Capability Statement current with evolving trends and your growth. Seek to utilize it as a vital tool in your company marketing program.


9.   Preserve your credit rating and your finances in top shape to respond effectively when opportunities arise.
 
10. Remember market research is a continuing and ongoing process

Thursday, August 2, 2018

YOUR ENTRY POINTS INTO SMALL BUSINESS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING


INTRODUCTION:

The Federal Government has a continuing need for products and services of every type to support ongoing operations and continued progress in the technical and IT fields.

Small business has lower overhead and G and A rates. The smaller enterprise has an opportunity to perform vital functions at lower cost burdens than the larger corporations.


This article will discuss product and service venues you may wish to consider and how to conduct market research to assess your potential entry point in the small business federal government contracting venue.  


POINTS OF ENTRY


The best place to start in determining a government contracting entrance point is with successful commercial performance of services or product development. Very few, if any, commercial firms make the transition without that bridge.

From maintaining buildings to keeping the lights on, from grounds maintenance to flight maintenance, look for niches that can be pursued based on successful past performance, transitioning via industry teaming via subcontracts, partner roles with larger companies or in small business set aside orders for minor items and simpler services provided directly to the government.

The service venue is the most common entry point and services are at times the vehicles to achieve product development tailored to agency needs. Please see the following synopsis of  concepts in this area and associated links for more details on each:

Multiple Front Marketing


The prudent small business will target agencies and teaming partners that best fit its products and services, positioning itself to acquire developing information on requirements and displaying capabilities by conveying early solutions to customer decision makers. This article will suggest techniques, approaches and tools to conduct a multi-front, targeted, requirements-driven, marketing campaign for small business federal government contracting.



There are 7 major, small business set-aside designations in federal government contracting. Below is a listing of these designations, divided into two groups, Self-Certifying at the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and those where government certification is required.
Techniques for Product Development 

This article will suggest approaches in developing a product to the point where it can be marketed in the small business federal government contracting venue. Individuals usually succeed at such an endeavor by forming a company, separating it from their personal assets and then developing the company and its product(s); even if it is only a one-person operation at the start. 
http://www.smalltofeds.com/2010/06/techniques-for-product-development-in_01.html

Teaming


While developing a government marketing plan, teaming with other companies is a productive venue for the small business. This article will convey general guidance pertinent to teaming and explore the types of teaming used successfully by small business federal government contractors.


Synergism is paramount in teaming with any size company, whether in a lead or subcontracting role. There should be technical, management and market segment similarities between you and any company with whom you are considering teaming. Your prospective team member ideally will not be a direct competitor; rather a business in a related field with whom you share a mutual need for each other's contributions in pursuing large-scale projects.


SUMMARY:

Small business federal government contracting is not rocket science - to succeed you must take what you do well in the commercial market place or what your experience leads you to believe you can plan successfully as a commercial enterprise and then apply it in a slightly different manner from a business perspective to accommodate federal government contracting requirements. Very few companies enter federal government contracting without some commercial experience and success. Very few start-ups entertain contracting exclusively to the federal government without commercial work to sustain operations while the more lengthy government procurement process is being pursued.

Federal government contracting is controlled by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Bid and proposal types are driven by the nature of the supply or service being procured. No one reads the FAR cover to cover - It is a source book for when you need it. The FAR and associated regulations are taught in only a few colleges, such as the Defense Systems Acquisition University at Ft. Belvoir and the George Washington School of Government Contracting. Very few CPA's are familiar with the US Government FAR Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) and I am not aware of any questions regarding CAS on current CPA exams. In general one must grow to understand these requirements and that usually happens by doing business under them. 



Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Framework For Federal Government Service Contracting Small Business Systems

PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE OR DOWNLOAD TO ENLARGE



INTRODUCTION 


Waiting for a contract award to achieve a government contracting business process is not advisable. A win may not happen at all without addressing the structure and process requirements in your proposal to convince the customer you understand his business environment.

If you are not prepared in advance and you are fortunate enough to win, then in a very short time frame you will have to evolve your business system to perform on your contract and submit a billing.

This article will discuss a framework for a small enterprise to develop a business system in service contracting, which is the most frequent venue utilized to enter the government market.

The above diagram depicts the major elements of a suggested integrated template.


If you are a small startup organization, your process and automation may be quite rudimentary and simple in addressing the above structure and functions. If your company is in a high growth mode with many transactions, projects and details your processes and computerization will be more complex.


The point to remember is the need to overlay the above on your existing company for the unique products and services you provide, and then address how to fit, supplement, or accommodate the necessary adjustments to support contracting to the government.


Please read the following articles on the highlighted topics for details that may assist in evolving your unique business processes to support government contracting:


Long Range Planning


Should You Consider Small Business Federal :Government Contracting?


Provisional Indirect Rates


Teaming in Government Contracting


Protecting Intellectual Property and Proprietary Data


Human Resource Planning

Generic Contingent Hire Agreement


Contracts and Pricing


Proposal Preparation

Pricing

Project Planning

Earned Value Management Systems


Contract Baseline Management


Cost Centers, General and Administrative , Operations, Job Cost Records


The "Past Performance" Challenge


Establishing FAR and CAS Compliant Small Business Systems

DCAA Audits and Small Business Job Cost Accounting Systems


Customer Relations


Customer Relations and Government Personnel Roles


What Small Business Should Know About the FEDBIZOPPS Web Site


Multiple Front Marketing In Small Business Federal Government Contracting

Small Business Set-Aside Designations

SUMMARY


You may wish to download the free book and related documents at the "Box Net" cube in the right margin of this site for further information and live examples.

Remember, small business federal government contracting is not rocket science - it is taking what you do well in the commercial environment and applying it in a slightly different manner from a business perspective to accommodate the way the federal government does business.




Saturday, July 28, 2018

SHOULD YOU CONSIDER SMALL BUSINESS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING?

Image:  FEDBIZOPPS


There has been a dramatic increase recently in counseling requests from small businesses inquiring about entering federal government contracting. This article will address some basic things for you to consider in testing that prospect.

YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

If you don't have a business plan in these changing economic times you need one and you should keep it a living document. It is the key vehicle to determine your path forward and convince people that can help you of your firm's potential. Loan officers and investors are interested in your business plan as a function of evaluating the thoroughness of your future vision and validating your funding forecast needs.

Please go to the SBA web site that guides you through the business planning process. I suggest you follow the site presentation and note the factors to consider. The link to the SCORE site business planning presentation is:

Business Planning Guide

The following site contains samples of business plans:

Sample Business Plans


Ask yourself some strategic questions, such as what competition you envision, what your marketing plan will be, etc. Addressing some of these questions may take some research and that is all part of the process of putting in place your plan. It is your road map for the future.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING

Your business plan should be a repository for research on the federal government marketplace and how you fit into it. There are many agencies and government prime contractors to whom you may be able to sell your products or services.

Like any other customer, the government expects you to finance your business, meet your payroll, pay your expenses and submit a bill for products and services delivered or rendered. The federal payment cycle is often 60 to 90 days, depending on whether or not you are a subcontractor to a prime corporation.

In federal government contracting you must also comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and associated Cost Accounting Standards (CAS). Although these requirements are not "Rocket Science", they are different from commercial rules and generally accepted accounting practices (GAP). They have evolved over the years as the federal government has grown in the volume of goods and services it buys. Very few universities make FAR and CAS part of their curriculum and CPA's do not encounter them on a certification exam. Several articles at this site address the practical implications of FAR and CAS requirements for a small business.

The prudent, small businessperson reviews the potential impact of FAR and CAS on his or her business systems and processes before undertaking a government contract, particularly a cost plus or a time and materials contract. In many cases job cost accounting and long range budget planning are required to support pricing, overhead and general and administrative rates. Government contracts can run several months or even years.

Federal agencies form large-scale projects and use companies to service their needs by contracting specialized skills, sometimes bringing the contractors on site by labor category under time and material, cost plus or fixed rate contracts or by purchasing services or products at company facilities and remote sites.

In other cases, pre-established pricing and terms and conditions are negotiated with several suppliers in advance under omnibus contracts and separate delivery orders are issued competitively based on changing requirements. The General Services Administration (GSA) negotiates pricing and terms on multi-year schedules from which both federal and state agencies are permitted to buy.

REGISTRATION

One of the first steps that must be completed is registering your company to bid and become eligible for award of government contracts. Please visit the link below for the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and notice the tips to make sure your file is as complete as possible.

Government Contracting Registration

Also note the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) Codes. Please make sure your CCR has the maximum number of codes for which you qualify, since the whole federal procurement system rides on those codes.

Self-Certification as a Small Business, a Small/Disadvantaged Business, a HUB Zone-located enterprise, Woman-owned or Veteran-Owned Business is also part of the registration process. Also insure the narrative description of your services is complete.

MARKETING

You should develop a capability statement (CAPE) for government contracts that is short and hard-hitting. It should be 1 page and should highlight the salient points of your products and offerings, your personnel and your qualifications. It should also include the specific information a contracting officer needs to place an order, such as your D&B Number, your government registration numbers, your North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes and the like. These items are selected or provided by you or determined by the system when you register your company for government contracting.

The purpose of the capability statement is to respond to government postings requesting industry interest in forthcoming procurements. They are normally posted at the state and local sites referenced above and at FEDBIZOPPS, the federal government gateway to contracting:

What Small Business Should Know About FEDBIZOPPS

A CAPE is useful in acquainting teaming partners with your expertise and government buyers with your small business designations and qualifications. It should be developed in PDF, JPG or similar formats that that can be emailed easily and readily opened.

The following link shows a typical capability statement by a small business government contractor: He may not be in exactly the same business as you are but you can get the idea of what a CAPE should look like and perhaps frame your own document by examining his:

Your CapabilityStatement

UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS

To propose and win federal government contracts you must become familiar with federal contract marketing, proposal preparation, negotiations and terms and conditions. It is a huge market, but a competitive one. Part of developing the final version of your CAPE will be to examine the market and pinpoint what is out there in the way of typical government bid solicitations that fit your line of work and then frame your document presentation.

The following additional reading at this site will provide background for your research:

Government Contracting Customer Relations

Marketing A Small Business in the Government Environment

Government Contract Negotiation

Establishing Federal Government Compliant Small Business Systems

The Government Contracting Past Performance Challenge

PRIME CONTRACTORS

Regarding larger government contracting corporations to whom you could subcontract - cover the waterfront. Find out what they are bidding and aggressively market a piece of the action as a small business. Determine the locations for the largest government contractors nearest you and register at their supplier business sites. Everything they buy for their facilities, their personnel and their operations counts toward the small business goals required contractually of them by their enormous government contracts.

Research their web sites and locate their small business liaison officers. Make appointments and visit them. While visiting, seek the names and titles of managers internal to their companies who manage prime contracts involving expertise your business can supply. Go after those managers.

SUMMARY

Please check the table of contents on the right margin of this site for other topics that may be useful to you and consider downloading the free book from the BOX in the right margin as well.  Small business federal government contracting is different from the commercial marketplace in terms of business system requirements, marketing, teaming relationships, pricing and the duration of associated contracts. The topics in this discussion and further reading at this site may assist you in your decision whether or not to include the federal market in your business plan.