According to Forbes, government contracts are not as lucrative for small businesses as one might think. About 22.5% of federal contracts go to small businesses. Therefore, knowing the capabilities of your company is the first thing that must be considered before attempting to respond to a Federal Government solicitation. It is important to identify the companies strengths and weaknesses. What has been successful in the past? What can your business provide to the Federal Government? It is best to avoid finding out what the Government is purchasing and then trying to produce sources against that.
Sources Sought is one of the best tools to compete against large companies in the Federal Government arena, because the Government contract sector is highly competitive, and small businesses must use every advantage they can to win contracts. Responding to a Sources Sought, is a way to get your foot in the door. Now, this doesn’t mean that by responding you will win a contract, but it will increase the chances of winning the contract and the likelihood that the Federal Government will provide opportunities that meet your company’s capabilities.
What are Set Aides? According to the Encarta World English Dictionary, “Set Aside” means to reserve something, to keep something, especially time or money for a specific purpose. This is exactly what a set aside is, part of the U.S. Government’s Small Business Act states that the Federal Government is required by law, to reserve a variety of procurements that are partially or totally for small business participation. Which means the Government must set aside a percentage of all Federal opportunities that meet certain small business set aside classifications. For more information regarding “Set Asides” and codes for classifications, please visit this site here.
You won the contract, now what?
Government contractors face a set of unique challenges due to the nature of their work. Many challenges can be identified by the time and efforts that go into finding work. Additionally, the need to comply with guidelines can differ from one government agency to another, and sometimes challenges arise between competitors that end up working together as a contractor and subcontractor on the same project.
Most government contractors can benefit from using the right solution to manage the entire contract lifecycle, from the moment an opportunity is identified to the moment of completion. Unfortunately, most business solutions are not tailored to the unique challenges of government contractors. It is imperative to select a comprehensive and industry-specific solution that has the capabilities to manage the entire lifecycle of your government contract through a single management software.
Why should government contractors track the entire lifecycle of a project?
Tracking a project from the moment the opportunity is identified boosts win rates. Gathering information on proposals and results could help you improve the way you build proposals and also allow you to identify the best opportunities in function of the projects you have won in the past.
Data might also show a specific project is not interesting because the profit margin would be too small. However, you would not be able to make an informed decision without the right contract lifecycle management tool.
Overall, using a contract management tool would make your organization more flexible, more efficient and improve your margins.
What should you look for in a contract lifecycle management solution?
The right contract lifecycle management solution should be comprehensive and flexible. Here are some of the features you should look for:
- Market intelligence on current opportunities and built-in tools to assess the opportunities and manage the proposal building and bidding process.
- Relationship management features so you can easily communicate with suppliers, partners, and subcontractors.
- Tracking of all your current business activities, including your active proposals and active contracts besides being able to track every task performed in the context of your active contracts.
- Integration with the other tools you need, such as your calendar, your email, Microsoft Office or your data backup solution.
- Visual data features so you can easily get an overview of your current activities, review activities over a period of time and understand your performances at a glance.
- Advanced security features are a must since you might have to work with sensitive data. The right solution should use encrypting or allow you to grant access to sensitive data only to users who need this information.
- Compliance is another thing to look for since everything you do as a government contractor has to be under the guidelines set by government agencies. This includes building your proposal, and keeping your accounting records; just to give a few examples.
Choosing the right management solution
It is best to look for a contract lifecycle management solution built with government contractors in mind since compliance, relations with partners and the need to track opportunities and access market intelligence are unique to your industry. The software system chosen needs to be designed to meet the specific needs of your business and have the capability to expand as more contracts are obtained.
In conclusion, if you are a small business and you would like to respond to Government solicitations, first, know your capabilities and set aside codes. Second, respond to all sources sought relating to your business. Third, choose a software system that will help streamline processes, win and maintaining more Federal Government contracts, and grow your business while remaining compliant. Finally, the perfect government contract lifecycle management solution can help you make a better bid or no bid decision, manage your projects more efficiently, gain more contracts and more importantly, achieve better profit margins.