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Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Look Back Over The Years At The "Smalltofeds" Foundation


PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

It has been a pleasure serving the Micro Mentor and SCORE Small Business Communities as well as many other venues through the "Small To Feds Foundation"

We appreciate the many Small, Woman-Owned, Minority-Owned, Veteran-Owned and Hub Zone located businesses who have contacted us for support, as well as the many other entrepreneurs and teaming partners who have visited our site, downloaded our books, conversed with us on social media and shared our concerns for the welfare of the small business community. 

Thank You,




Sunday, May 9, 2021

10 Tips to Expand Your Small Business Client Base Mix For Stability In Government Contracting



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 other than those with whom you have been doing business.

SAM Contract Opportunities (Formerly FEDBIZOPPS) 
 
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




Sunday, May 2, 2021

A Thank You and 4 Gifts from Ken Larson




With well over a decade in volunteer small business consulting, I appreciate the many individuals who have contacted me for advice. 

You have come from many venues through the Micro Mentor and SCORE Foundations, Linked In and other social media sites.  It has been a pleasure serving small business. 

My work with you has kept me active in retirement, in touch with my profession and engaged in a continuous learning mode.

Please feel free to download any of the 4 free books available here. Although originally written some time ago, these Adobe downloads contain live links to the latest versions and continual updates of any given article. 


My best wishes for success to you in your small business enterpises. 

Ken Larson




Sunday, April 25, 2021

Small Business Federal Government Contract Proposal Preparation

Image:  "Eventbrite.com" 

INTRODUCTION


Your marketing efforts have resulted in locating a solicitation for supplies and services that is exactly suited to your business. The solicitation by the government may be a result of your self-marketing efforts or you may have located it at the System for Award Management (SAM), the gateway for all federal government business in excess of $25K. The fact that the government has now converted a project requirement into a formal solicitation means that the funding is available for a contract and the authorities within the government agency have authorized a source selection process.

BID/NO BID DECISION

Government contract proposal preparation is time consuming and can be costly. Meeting the agency Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements with a responsive proposal can be well worth the effort if a winning strategy can be formulated. When considering submitting a proposal to a given government solicitation, conduct a bid/no bid exercise. By going through that process you will begin formulating your win strategy or you will discover that you should not bid this job for lack of such a strategy. The elements of the process are discussed below in the form of questions to ask yourself against topics for key consideration. Affirmative or non-affirmative answers to the topical questions and ability to fill in the blanks below will drive your decision to bid or not bid a solicitation.

A. Customer:

Do you know this customer? Yes __ No ___
Does this customer know you? Yes___No ___
Do you have any idea of the available funding for which the customer has obtained authorization? Yes___No ____
Specify the marketing contacts which have been made with the customer thus far:
Date:
Contact:

B. Supplies and Services:

Specify the supplies and services to be delivered in the prospective contract:

Line Item (s):
Description:

Are the supplies and services in the RFP Statement of work a good match for what the company sells? Yes ___No ___
Is the RFP Statement of Work specific enough to identify risks? Yes____No ____
Is the RFP schedule specific enough to determine the delivery requirements? Yes____No____
Can the delivery schedule in the RFP be met? Yes ___No _____
Specify the delivery schedule for the prospective contract:

Line Item:
Delivery Date:

C. Contract Type/Value/Start/End Date:

Does the proposed contract type (FFP, CP, T&M, etc) suit the nature of the work? Yes___ No ___
Specify the contract type for this program: _______________.
Are there any unusual terms and conditions specified in the government RFP? Yes ____No___
Specify any unusual terms and conditions: ___________________________________________

What is the Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) value of the prospective contract? $___________.
What is the anticipated start date of the contract? ________.
What is the anticipated end date of the contract? ________.

D. Company Strengths:
Is this prospective contract for effort in which the company has strong skills? Yes____No ____
Specify the strengths the company will utilize in meeting the product specificaton or statement of work:


E. Company Weaknesses:

Are there any company weaknesses in meeting the product specification or statement of work? Yes ___No ___
Specify any weaknesses for which the company must compensate and manage associated risks:


F. Teaming Arrangements (If any):

Does your company plan to team with other companies in the performance of the prospective contract? Yes ___No ___
Identify the other team member companies:


Will your company be a prime or a subcontractor? Prime___Subcontractor ____
Have NDA's and Teaming Agreements been executed? Yes____No ______

G. Competition:

Is this a sole source set-aside procurement to your company? Yes____No____
If this is a competitive procurement, identify the prospective competition and their associated strengths/weaknesses:


H. Win Strategy:

Identify the proposal features and themes which will be utilized in the proposal as descriminators to win this program:

Management:



Technical:



Cost:


I. Proposal Budget:

Estimate the man hours and dollars for proposal labor, any travel expenses, shipping, packaging, samples and other expenses associated with preparing the proposal. The government does not reimburse the contractor for proposal preparation under the subsequent contract. Proposal expenses must be included in the cost center overhead or G&A and accounted for as marketing expense allocated across the cost center or the company.

Labor Hours __
Labor Dollars $______
Material _______
Travel _______
Reproduction _______
Samples (if any) _______
Packaging/Binding/Ship _______
TOTAL $_______

J. Bid/No Bid Decision:

If you can answer "YES" to at least 5 of the questions under paragraphs A through D above, it is likely you should bid this procurement.
If the answers to 7 of the 10 "YES" or "NO" questions under paragraphs A through D above are "NO" it is unlikely you should bid this procurement unless the answer to G is "YES". Even then, examine your answers and carefully review whether this business is suitable for your company. If the answer to E is "YES", it is unlikely you will bid this procurement successfully unless the answer to G is "YES". Even then, determine how you will overcome the weaknesses you have identified in your company associated with doing this work before you decide to bid it. Carefully compare the competitive analysis under Item G to the win statagy under H before you make your final decision.

K. Decision:

BID _____
NO Bid _______

YOUR PROPOSAL

You have decided to bid a prospective project. You have downloaded the RFP from the government agency and the clock has started on the proposal due date.


Visit the federal government on line certifications and representations web site and complete the standard information there, which can be utilized for all federal agency proposals. Certifications and representations are required for virtually every proposal submission. That web site is at:


System for Award Managment (SAM)

The following information addresses the proposal process. It is from an independent consultant named Deborah L. Kluge, who is a specialist in proposal writing and consulting. The below is an extract from Deborah's Web site.

If you are preparing a FAR Part 12 Commercial Proposal, certain elements of this material may not apply, but you are encouraged to utilize the information and the checklist to insure you have covered all the bases.

"THE RFP

Read it once, then read it again. And again. Experienced bidders know that several readings of an RFP are necessary for a complete understanding of what is required.
Learn what the lettered sections of an RFP are (e.g., Section B refers to your pricing, Section C is the scope-of-work, Section K contains Representations and Certifications, Section L provides instructions to the bidders, Section M specifies the bid evaluation criteria, etc.). The titles of the lettered sections are generally the same in every RFP.
Be aware that information critical to your bid may be scattered among many different sections of an RFP.
Put the RFP in a 3-ring binder for easy use as a reference document. You might also want to insert dividers in front of each important section for quick reference.
Use small "Post-It"™ notes at the edge of a page to mark important pages or paragraphs. That way, you can find them quickly.

If you don't understand some of the information in the RFP, you can submit written questions to the Contracting Officer.
Some RFPs specify a date by which questions are due. Make sure you send in your questions before the due date or they may not be considered.
Be aware that the Government's response to all submitted questions are distributed to all bidders, usually through a written amendment to the RFP. Although you and your firm will not be identified as the "asker" of specific questions, the way in which you word your questions could provide important information to your competitors. Word your questions carefully to ensure that you don't give away information on your strategy or pricing.
If you call the Contracting Officer to obtain or clarify information in an RFP, be aware that verbal information given to you by the Government is not binding.

THE PROPOSAL OUTLINE

If you have downloaded an RFP from the Internet, you can use that file to begin constructing your proposal outline.
If you do not have the RFP on disk, use a scanner to scan in important sections for use in preparing your outline.
Some people prepare an annotated outline as well as a basic outline. An annotated outline can contain important points from the RFP, as well as your own information on what you are planning to say in each section.
If you prepare an annotated outline, copy your file, save it under a different name, and delete the annotations. The result will be a basic outline which you can use for easier viewing and tracking of proposal sections and subsections.
For each section and/or subsection of your outline, indicate the estimated number of pages that will be written, the person responsible for doing the writing, and the evaluation points.
Put important instructions on the first page or at the top of your outline, so you don't have to rummage through the RFP to find them. These instructions might include: proposal due date and time, number of copies, page limits, font size, page margins, packaging and delivery instructions.

THE PROPOSAL SCHEDULE

Make one and stick to it!
Work backwards from the proposal due date.
You might want to make a separate schedule for preparation of the cost/business proposal.
Make sure you leave plenty of time for copying, binding, and delivering the proposal. Remember, the copier knows that an important document is being copied, so it will break, jam or smudge. Have a back-up plan that includes having extra paper and toner on hand and sending the proposal out to be copied.
Distribute the schedule to all members of your proposal team.

PROPOSAL PREPARATION

Make sure you are familiar with the instructions in Section L of the RFP.
Study the proposal evaluation criteria and the points allocated to each section/subsection of the technical proposal, as well as the points that are allocated to cost. This information will tell you what to emphasize and where to put your efforts with regard to proposal preparation.
Hold an intial and regular follow-up meetings with your proposal team to discuss strategies, progress and problems.
To the extent possible, your Technical Approach and strategy should provide answers to the following questions: who, what, when, where, how, and why.
Depending upon the instructions in the RFP, your Management Section might contain a discussion on how you will manage the overall project, a discussion on how you will manage and oversee the work of your staff and subcontractors (if any), an organization chart of the project, and position descriptions of project staff.
In your Personnel Section, you may be required to include narrative information on the experience and skills of the staff members you are proposing for the project and/or their resumes.
In your Related Experience or Capabilities Section, you may need to demonstrate that you have performed similar or related work for this or other clients.
Your proposal may have other sections such as an Executive Summary, a discussion of your Understanding of the Problem, Appendices, or other required information as specified in the RFP.

Don't assume that the Government knows your organization's capabilities, staff or the projects you have carried out. The Government is supposed to evaluate only the specific information contained in your proposal. That means it must be written down in accordance with RFP instructions.
Use tables, charts and graphics to summarize information ("a picture says a thousand words") or to break up your narrative.
Check the entire proposal for the following: technical consistency; spelling; page numbering; section/subsection numbering or letting; consistency of appearance of headings, subheadings, font types and font sizes.
Make sure you have filled in and signed all the forms in the RFP that you must return with your bid.
Before and after copying your technical and cost proposals, check to see that each copy contains all pages and that they are in the proper order.

COSTING

You have a technical strategy -- you should also have a costing strategy!
Don't wait until the last minute to begin gathering cost information that you will need to prepare your cost estimate.
Be aware of and understand the type of contract you are bidding: fixed-fee, cost-plus, cost-reimbursement, time and materials, etc. This will likely affect the way you price your proposal.
Prepare a spreadsheet template or checklist of items to include in your cost estimate.
Make sure your cost estimate is consistent with what you are proposing to do or provide.
You may need to develop some specific assumptions for pricing purposes. If appropriate, you can include these assumptions in your cost/business proposal on a separate page or as footnotes to your estimate. In any event, always document your assumptions so that you can refer to them later and make changes if needed.
Check and re-check your numbers and formulas. Review the hard copy of your estimate to help in spotting errors.
Make sure that your cost estimate can be easily read. Don't use a font that is too small.
IF YOU WIN
Celebrate!
Uh oh -- you now have to actually manage and implement your project.

IF YOU LOSE

You can call the Contracting Officer to arrange an in-person or telephone debriefing to find out the reasons for your loss.
Try not to get too discouraged -- no one can win all the time.
Learn from your experience and apply that learning to your next bid.

PROPOSAL PITFALLS - Don't Let These Happen to You!

Failure to follow the RFP instructions regarding organization of the proposal, inclusion of required information, page limits, volumes, etc.
Failure to take evaluation criteria and allocated points into consideration when preparing your response.
Failure to understand and to demonstrate an understanding of the problem (i.e., the reason why the agency is issuing the RFP).
Failure to submit your proposal on the required date and time.
Failure to include all of the information requested by the Agency.
Failure to tailor your response to the specific RFP.
Costs/Prices are unreasonable (too high or too low) or incomplete.
Costs/prices do not provide any detail or breakdown information (if required) for line and sub-line items.
Failure to include specifics of your proposed approach to the project.
Proposal is unprofessional in appearance (e.g., typos, blank pages, unnumbered pages, smudges, no whitespace, sloppy-looking, etc.). This reflects poorly upon your company.
Proposal is poorly written (e.g., information is not presented/organized in a logical manner, proposal is difficult to follow, poor grammar, etc.).
Proposal merely repeats or paraphrases the RFP.
Proposal does not explain how or by whom the project will be managed.
Proposal does not contain RELEVANT information about your firm, its capabilities, and/or its management and staff.
Proposal does not demonstrate that your firm/organization and personnel have the experience and capability to carry out the project.

PROPOSAL CHECKLIST:

1. RFP/DOCUMENTS

Obtain complete copy of RFP
Distribute RFP to appropriate staff.
Review RFP for missing pages/sections.
Prepare questions for submission to Contracting Officer.
Receive and review responses to questions.
Collect, distribute and review pertinent background documents.

2. PARTNERS

Identify partners to participate in bid.
Determine type of partnership arrangement.
Prepare teaming or other type of appropriate agreements.
Receive signed agreements from partners.
Determine each partner's level of effort for project.
Number and type of long-term staff.
Number and type of consultants.

3. TECHNICAL STRATEGY

Hold strategy meetings.
Identify the partnership's strengths and weaknesses.
Identify competition and their strengths and weakness.
Identify ways to differentiate partnership from competition.
Develop strategic themes.
Develop strategy for each component and overall.

4. TECHNICAL PROPOSAL

Prepare draft outline/revise as needed.
Identify & select writers for each section.
Determine page numbers for each section.
Determine document format (font, major/minor headings, etc.).
Provide writers with written formatting guidelines/instructions.
Prepare/distribute list of nomenclature, abbreviations, acronyms.
Identify and provide writers with relevant sections from past proposals.
Prepare schedule/identify due dates for draft sections.
Determine review, feedback and editing process for written sections.
Ensure compatibility of software packages and versions.
Ensure compatibility of document transmission via e-mail.
Ensure sufficient quantities of appendix materials are available.

5. PERSONNEL

Prepare packet of materials for long-term candidates.
Prepare personnel checklists/tracking list for candidate documents.
Prepare commitment letter(s) for signature by candidates.
Recruit long-term staff and consultants.
Collect Resumes
Sort Resumes by category/areas of expertise.
Review Resumes
Identify best candidates and alternates.
Confirm candidates' interest/availability.
Obtain additional info from candidates for Resumes, if necessary.
Obtain signed letters of commitment from candidates.
Review personnel checklists for missing items.
Determine format for re-written Resumes.
Re-write Resumes.
Prepare skills matrices.

6. PAST PERFORMANCE REFERENCES

Use RFP format if required.
Update and/or prepare past performance information as needed.
Review for accuracy and completeness.

7. PACKAGING

Select cover design (map, picture, graphic, etc.).
Identify info for cover (RFP #, date, submitted to/by, etc.).
Prepare cover.
Determine how proposal will be packaged.
Purchase binder rings and covers, if needed.
Purchase notebooks if needed.
Purchase dividers/tabs if needed.
Ensure sufficient quantities of all packaging items are available.

8. FINISHING TOUCHES

Spell check all sections.
Gather appendix materials.
Prepare Table of Contents.
Prepare Transmittal Letter.
Prepare Inside Cover Sheet for Technical Proposal.
Prepare Section Tabs/Dividers for Technical Proposal.

9. PRODUCTION

Determine where and by whom proposal will be reproduced.
Insert special pages, charts, etc., if required .
Insert appendix materials.
Check pages in each copy for legibility.
Check each copy to ensure no pages are missing.

10. PROPOSAL DELIVERY/LOGISTICS
Preparations for Delivery
Obtain packaging materials (boxes, wrapping paper, tape).
Purchase box handle (if needed for hand carrying).
Prepare label for technical proposal.
Prepare outside address label.
Mark "original" on 1 copy of proposal.
Prepare receipt (for hand carrying).
Mailing
Check courier service schedules (# days required for delivery).
Wrap technical proposal and affix proposal label.
Affix outside address label.
Hand Carrying
Identify person to carry proposal.
Make airline and hotel reservations.
Wrap technical proposal and affix "technical proposal" label.
Affix outside address label.
Affix handle, if required.
Provide receipt to person who will hand-carry proposal. "

SUMMARY:

This article has offered guidance as a template to apply to your marketing operations for accommodating federal government contract proposal preparation. Proposals are special, sometimes exhausting projects, but a necessary part of doing business with government agencies. Like many other aspects of business, the more proposals you prepare, the more you learn and the more can borrow from past practice for the next one.
As a final note please read the following carefully. Your proposal data may contain rate information, proprietary data or strategic technical solutions which you would not want to fall into the hands of a competitor. The government does not sign Proprietary Data Agreements (PDA's). The government's obligation to protect your information is covered in the following FAR clause and requires protective markings by you on the title page of your proposal and on each subsequent page.

FAR 15.509 Limited use of data.

(a) A proposal may include data that the offeror does not want disclosed for any purpose other than evaluation. If the offeror wishes to restrict the proposal, the title page must be marked with the following legend:

"The data in this proposal shall not be disclosed outside the Government and shall not be duplicated, used, or disclosed in whole or in part for any purpose other than to evaluate the proposal; provided, that if a contract is awarded to this offeror as a result of or in connection with the submission of these data, the Government shall have the right to duplicate, use, or disclose the data to the extent provided in the contract. This restriction does not limit the Government's right to use information contained in the data if it is obtainable from another source without restriction."

(b) The offeror shall also mark each restricted sheet with the following legend: "Use or disclosure of proposal data is subject to the restriction on the title page of this Proposal."

(c) The coordinating office shall return to the offeror any unsolicited proposal marked with a legend different from that provided in 15.509(a). The return letter will state that the proposal cannot be considered because it is impracticable for the Government to comply with the legend and that the agency will consider the proposal if it is resubmitted with the proper legend.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Insights to Succeed In Small Business Federal Government Service Contracting


Service contracting to the federal government is a natural venue for small business. It does not require a product with a niche market or capital intensive manufacturing facilities.

Service contracting does require skilled management and labor resources capable of performing a scope of work for which the government has identified a need and for which outsourcing to an industry contractor has been selected as the means to fulfill that need. The venue demands strong human resources management, industry teaming and an enhanced business system to price, account and bill on a job cost basis under government service contracts.

Small enterprises in the commercial services market are tempted to immediately begin bidding jobs in federal government contracting, approaching them like commercial efforts. They quickly find there are major differences in the way the government contracts are marketed, proposed, priced and performed. These differences are not “Rocket Science” but it is necessary to learn about them and plan for success.

Here are 8 insights for planning your success in small business federal government service contracting:

1. UNDERSTAND THE LENGTHY SALES CYCLE

What immediately becomes apparent to the commercial small business when entering the federal contracting service contracting market is that the sales cycle is a long one and the preliminary steps are often hidden from public view.

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 the requirement long before it became formally announced at FEDBIZOPPS. For additional details please see:

What Small Business Should Know About FEDBIZOPPS

Even if a company has had exposure to an agency, marketed on a program in advance of its announcement or become a member of an industry team to bid the job, the proposal and award process, to include negotiations and start up, can easily consume 90 to 120 days as a minimum. For major programs the process often exceeds 6 months in duration. Planning must occur for the expense associated with supporting such lengthy marketing efforts before any cash flow results.

2. APPRECIATE APPLICABLE DEFINITIONS, ROLES AND REGULATIONS

Participation in the government contacting market can involve participating as an individual, becoming a subcontractor as a company or seeking a prime contractor role. Those with product research and development support needs can participate in venues like Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Mentor/Protege Programs. A GSA Schedule also provides opportunities for those in finished product sales. Please refer to the following articles for explanations of these roles and program definitions:

What Is A Small Business Federal Government Contractor?

Techniques For Product Development

Small Business Government Grants Versus Direct Contracts

Achieving and Utilizing A GSA Schedule

3. CONDUCT MARKET RESEARCH

If you are relying on FEDBIZOPPS or like sites for new business you will be very disappointed. Pre-solicitation notices do have promise, but you have to get inside an agency to find out who has the funding, the need and the decision-making authority.  It is rarely the contracting officer who posts the notice who has these responsibilities.

 
Pre-solicitations are alerts to industry, attempts to gauge industry interest or a way of "Kicking the Can Down the Road" until funding becomes available.  These notices are an indirect way of saying, "Come Visit Me and tell me about your company", or “Send Me your CAPE”. The full formal notification will come out at a time to be determined by when the agency gets the funding and how much interest there is in the contractor community. A schedule for when the formal bid notice will occur is rarely posted.

4. PROMOTE CAPABILITIES

Develop a capability statement (CAPE) to respond to government postings and mail directly to government agencies and to large corporations doing business with the government.

A capability statement is a necessity as a standalone marketing tool for dealing with government agencies and contractors. It should be short (no more than 2 pages) and hard hitting, containing all the information necessary for a government contracting officer or company buyer to place an order, as well as your registration information at local, state and federal web sites, your NAICS Codes and contact information.

Insert your CAPE in the tab at your web site where you discuss your background information and your government registrations.

See the second, vertical, Box Net “References” cube in the left margin of this site for an example of a good service contractor capabilities statement in the public domain.

5. ACQUIRE PERSONNEL STRATEGICALLY

Start up service contractors face the dual problem of establishing the enterprise with the one-time, non-recurring activities necessary to get the operation underway and at the same time acquire the core management talent and subsequent help as the business grows.

Even established companies who enter government service contracting find they cannot sustain a work force for large scale agency programs until the contracts are in hand to finance them.

A core team is an absolute necessity; it may be small and the business proposals may be few at first. But the core team product must be strategic in terms of high probability marketing to build the company base.

Supplementary help can be acquired by permanent ads at the company web site for generic skill sets, contingent hire agreements with prospective employees and similar techniques that position the resources on deck for business growth.

Small businesses commonly utilize contingent hire agreements to locate promising individuals who can bring projects or contacts with them when they join the firm. They are willing to negotiate a prospective wage and salary arrangement in advance of a proposal submission and commit to an offer of employment with benefits and commission should the program be won. They further offer to reimburse the participant for expenses and business related costs during the proposal period, if pre-approved.

The key to these arrangements is to identify target projects that both you and the candidate can go after, where the candidate is uniquely qualified to :

(1) Help win the job

(2) Contribute heavily to the proposal. Just bringing someone on who has no ability to offer targets usually does not work.

Contingent Hire Agreements

6. MAKE ASTUTE BID/NO BID DECISIONS

Government contract proposal preparation is time consuming and can be costly. Meeting the agency Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements with a responsive proposal can be well worth the effort if a winning strategy can be formulated.

When considering submitting a proposal to a given government solicitation, conduct a bid/no bid exercise. By going through that process you will begin formulating your win strategy or you will discover that you should not bid this job for lack of such a strategy. The elements of the process are in the form of questions to ask yourself against topics for key consideration at the following link:

Federal Government Contracting Proposal Preparation

Affirmative or non-affirmative answers to the topical questions and ability to fill in the blanks will drive your decision to bid or not bid a solicitation.

7. PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS SYSTEM FOR PRICING, ACCOUNTING AND BILLING

To effectively market a federal government contract a small business must sell on the basis of having a business system as well as technical performance infrastructure ready to run the job when a contract proposal is submitted. This dual requirement is where many small businesses fall short in their federal government contract start up planning.

Parallel thinking is required to plan for government project technical effort against a template of necessary business process infrastructure, driven by introducing Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) into the company. Key elements of the necessary business system infrastructure are discussed in the following articles:

Establishing FAR and CAS Compliant Small Business Systems

Managing Risk In Small Business Systems Development

8. PROPOSE TO WIN BY MEETING THE PAST PERFORMANCE CHALLENGE

As a small business begins the proposal submission process to federal government agencies or to prime contractors, the past performance challenge is major. By definition a start-up company in government contracting has no direct government agency past performance projects to site in meeting the requirement in requests for proposals (RFP’s) for historical references to similar projects in terms of size, duration and complexity

So how can a new organization or one that is new to government contracting muster a response to the past performance challenge?

The answer lies in historical projects that may be similar in the commercial arena and a high quality proposal that clearly demonstrates an understanding of the requirement at hand, a unique and cost effective project plan and high performing personnel and/or products tailored to the statement of work to offset an interim, light past performance record.

For further details see the following article:

The Small Business Federal Government Contracting Past Performance Challenge


This writing has conveyed insights for planning participation strategically in the small business federal government service contracting market.
Consider the lengthy sales cycle and the roles your enterprise can best play in the venue. Conduct thorough market research, promote your capabilities endlessly and make astute bid/no bid decisions.

You must acquire core and supplementary help as business growth permits by using methods to preposition human resources. Prepare dynamic proposals with unique project plans to meet the past performance challenge, then execute your project plans to succeed.



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Flexible Pandemic Planning for Small Business Government Contracting



The COVID 19 battle will continue as a local issue.  It is at the local level in which federal funding programs are enacted, grown and made part of the culture. 

There will be dramatic roles for small business, not just in medically related fields but also in logistics to geospatial technology fields and others. 


INTRODUCTION:


 When visiting the SBA website on business planning, there are major topics in the business planning process which, when addressed in a plan, will insure the success of an enterprise and assist  in determining and supporting the amount of funding needed. SBA Write a Business Plan

This discussion addresses the unique aspects of federal government contracting that will yield a successful plan and more importantly a successful execution of that plan in the federal contracting venue.  


Marketing, advertising, competitor analysis and financing must be addressed.  Free articles on strategic planning and developing a marketing plan are at the “References” Box Net Cube at the top right margin of this site. They address evolving an operations vision for an enterprise showing its potential to present to a banker or to an investor.

Here is a site with free business plan samples:


Business Plan Sample

It may assist in visualizing business growth to look at an example of how someone else addressed a given topic.

NICHE DEVELOPMENT

Product entrepreneurs all face the same challenges. Those who succeed recognize they need to visualize themselves in the product development business, structuring an enterprise, generating a business plan, protecting intellectual property and then seeking industry partners and investors to bring the product to market.

In the process, copyrights, patents and royalty issues may come into play and development and distribution agreements are formed. Pricing is finalized based on cost and expense projections and competitive factors unique to the company as negotiation results are achieved with industry teaming partners, developers, manufacturers and distributors.


Service contracting to the federal government is a natural venue for small business. It does not require a product with a niche market or capital intensive manufacturing facilities. Service contracting does require skilled management and labor resources capable of performing a scope of work for which the government has identified a need and for which outsourcing to an industry contractor has been selected as the means to fulfill that need. The venue demands strong human resources management, industry teaming and an enhanced business system to price, account and bill on a job cost basis under government service contracts.


REGISTRATION

Utilize the below link to register your company.  It provides excellent guidance and background, as well as access to the PDF file on NAICS Codes which are critical for you to choose before you begin the registration process.  Give these some careful thought when selecting them.  If there is a chance your firm may wish to be involved in a field, put the code in your registration.  No one will question your qualifications at this point.  That comes later during proposals. 
Note the requirement for a DUNS number up front.  You may already have one.  If you do - use it.  If you do not, follow the instructions on obtaining a DUNS free at the Dunn and Bradstreet web site.  
When you have completed your registration at the link below you will received a Government CAGE Code, uniquely identifying your firm and its location as a government contractor. 

MARKET RESEARCH

As a small business becomes known in the federal government contracting community, successful marketing of sole source or group-designated business becomes easier, but it is always a challenge due to the need for taking early action in windows of opportunity. 
Find those windows and communicate capabilities to the decision makers and industry team members who can help you.  
If you are eligible for set aside designations make small business set asides or sole source procurements key elements in your marketing plan. 


TEAMING

Be straight-forward and honest with  industry teaming partners.

Do not violate share arrangements, teaming agreements or non-disclosure agreements. Such violations are a death knell for your reputation in the business.

Do not become known as a resource raider by hiring away from other firms with whom you have teamed.

Give it a best shot as a prime or a sub but involve the government contracting officer to resolve industry teaming disputes that may damage a past performance record.

Exclusivity is the practical way to go on any given program. Team early and exclusively and be a winner. 
Reputation is key, ethics count and  customers as well as the industry are observing.


BUSINESS SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT

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 his business environment is understood.

If one is not prepared in advance and one is fortunate enough to win, then in a very short time frame one will have to evolve a business system to perform on the 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.



PROPOSAL PREPARATION

Government contract proposal preparation is time consuming and can be costly. Meeting the agency Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements with a responsive proposal can be well worth the effort if a winning strategy can be formulated. When considering submitting a proposal to a given government solicitation, conduct a bid/no bid exercise.

By going through that process  a company  begins formulating your win strategy or it will discover that it should not bid this job for lack of such a strategy. The elements of the process are discussed below in the form of questions to ask  against topics for key consideration

This article offers guidance as a template to apply marketing operations for accommodating federal government contract proposal preparation. Proposals are special, sometimes exhausting projects, but a necessary part of doing business with government agencies. Like many other aspects of business, the more proposals that are prepared, the more that is learned and the more one can borrow from past practice for the next one.


PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Strategic thinking must be applied to structuring a government service contract project management capability in your company. It must involve long term planning and designing a business system as well as establishing rates and factors to bid new work and control it while interfacing with the customer.

When one plans in detail to define the product or the service one reduces performance risk. 

The project management challenge is not to launch significant and costly resources before the specification for the product is sufficiently defined, obviating the need for costly revisions or abandonment, yet knowing when the product definition and plan are suitable for release.

Good project management starts early.


SUMMARY

Consider the advice herein when developing and maintaining your business plan. Overlay approaches unique to the company against the guidance offered and place it in the standard format for business planning.  It will yield a road map for success and can be further evolved for growth.

For additional  details on these topics and other important information in developing and executing a government contacting plan, download the free books and supplements available in PDF format at the “Box” in the top right margin of this site.

Seizing the Moment