Not long after I left my position as CIO of the U.S. Department of Transportation -- and DOT's $3 billion annual IT portfolio -- I was routinely contacted by IT contractors and service providers for advice on the best ways to accelerate the revenues and profits for their firms.
Having been in leadership positions in large public sector IT buying organizations in federal, state and local governments for more than 15 years, I can fairly say I have accurate "insider" knowledge of what constitutes a winning bid and who becomes a preferred technology contractor.
I've tried to capture that knowledge and share it publically through a distinctive framework called Public Private Innovations. The idea behind it is to drive increased business value for government IT buyers while also helping government contractors increase their revenues and profits. That framework is a work in progress, and I welcome feedback and suggestion on our Facebook business page . But here, in essence, are six steps that IT contractors should keep in mind to improve their business prospects with government agencies:
Step 1: Engage Trusted External Advisor(s)
Having quality external advisors can help in identifying major discontinuities in the contractors' current operations and help target unnoticed opportunities in the marketplace. These advisors can take the shape of a board of directors or advisors, strategic consulting firms and individual advisors.
Boards of directors or advisors can provide great value when recruited skillfully but are often difficult to get organized, time consuming to operate and costly to maintain especially for small and midsize firms. Strategic consulting firms are costly to engage and in many cases become a one-time paper exercise. I believe that it is not the crisp, sleek consulting report or presentation that delivers results, but regular ongoing discussions with contractor executives that transform the internal thinking and actions. I therefore, suggest technology contractor's start off with an individual external advisor they trust and value. Such advisory engagements need to be focused on brief but regular and continuing discussions with the technology contractor's senior executives to effect a systematic change from within in areas identified below.
Step 2: Set And Address The Correct Goals
Technology contractors seeking to accelerate their revenue and profits need to focus on several key strategies and goals:
1) Maximize business value from their technology services for their clients.
2) Increase the size and frequency of contract awards.
3) Reduce the cost of operations including business development.
4) Increase the speed and quality of execution.
5) Enhance the brand, reputation and differentiation in the marketplace.
While it is not possible for me to get into the details of how to implement these goals in this short article, I have highlighted the major focus areas and important steps for execution below.
Step 3: Optimize the Internal Contracting Shop
In order to achieve the above goals technology contractors must first start by optimizing their contracting "shops." This includes, a) the business development shop, b) the proposal shop, c) the recruitment shop and, d) the execution shop.
In my experience, I have rarely seen contractors where all these shops are functioning at peak levels. Typically, there are anomalies somewhere in this chain or in the supervision of the shops. This negatively affects the achievement of the above goals and therefore the revenues and profits. A good advisor should be able to brainstorm with the executives' in charge to help identify and fix these issues.