Tag Archives: Marketing

U.S. Defense and Justice Departments Signalling Massive Cloud and Services Single Award Contracts

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“FEDSCOOP”

“The DOD team leading the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud procurement released the second draft of its working request for proposals Monday.  the contract’s single award acquisition strategy remains.

The FBI is interested in pursuing an “all-encompassing” $5 billion contract to provide all IT services across the Department of Justice.”

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“In second draft, DOD stands firmly by single award for JEDI cloud contract”

“Despite numerous questions and comments pushing for the Department of Defense to reconsider its decision to award a single contract for its forthcoming landmark commercial cloud acquisition, it appears the department isn’t budging.

The decision to award a single contract has drawn ire from all around the government cloud industry and largely driven the conversation concerning JEDI since its inception. The questions and comments attached to the new release of the RFP largely reflect industry’s refusal to accept that a single award would be in the best interest of the DODas it could handcuff the department to a single cloud provider for up to 10 years, limiting innovation and a failsafe in the event of an outage.

In many cases, the team’s response was: “Your comment has been noted. The requirement remains as stated.”

And many respondents asked for the written justification for a single award contract, which is required by federal acquisition law, to be made public. But DOD won’t indulge them “at this time.”

However, another frequent answer about teaming and subcontracting leaves the door open for vendors to get creative despite there being one award up for grabs. Asked if cloud service providers can partner together under a single prime contractor or some similar arrangement, the department responded, “Offerors may propose any kind of teaming/partnering arrangement so long as the proposed solution meets the requirements of the solicitation.”

https://www.fedscoop.com/jedi-cloud-contract-second-draft-dod-pentagon/

FBI weighs $5B ‘all-encompassing’ IT contract for Justice Department

The FBI is interested in pursuing an “all-encompassing” $5 billion contract to provide all IT services across the Department of Justice.

The bureau issued a request for information for a centralized contract covering a range of IT services that would be awarded in March 2019.

The FBI’s Information Technology Acquisitions Unit has been pursuing a new IT contract to replace the current $30 billion Information Technology Supplies and Support Services (ITSSS) blanket purchase agreement, which is set to expire in October. It’s unclear why the proposed new contract’s ceiling would be so much less than its predecessor, but since it’s an RFI, that could change based on industry feedback.

The new RFI outlines a possible indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with a one-year base period — followed by nine yearlong option periods — to start in March 2018. The new timeline envisions that a final solicitation would be issued in August and be due Oct. 5, but it makes no mention of a bridge contract for the expiring contract.

The new contract would be split into several sections, covering agile, development, operations and maintenance, engineering services, IT consulting, IT scientific services, cloud, Telecomm, IT services, cybersecurity, IT security services, and IT help desk support across the entire Justice Department.

Interested vendors have until April 20 to respond to the RFI.  FBI officials plan to hold a follow-up industry day April 30.

fBI officials also recently issued an RFI seeking information on a cloud computing solution.”

https://www.fedscoop.com/fbi-weighs-5b-enterprise-wide-contract/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Four Must-Watch Federal Market Trends

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Image:  Think Stock

“WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY”

“With an approved federal budget and a full stack of legislative actions being discussed, government and industry leaders are digging in for some fascinating developments leading up to the mid-term elections.

From recompetes to reorganization, here are four federal market trends to watch from now through the end of the year.”


” Recompetes on center stage

Several major contract vehicles and task orders are coming up for rebid this year. Vendors will face tough competition, whether as an incumbent or new entrant into the market. Procurement leaders, along with agency leaders, will be busy preparing RFPs, rewriting performance metrics, and evaluating proposals to ensure they get the best the market has to offer.

They’ll likely be looking to see what innovative new approaches and technology can help them, but they also won’t simply embrace the latest technology. Instead, they’ll be looking for real-world examples of where a new (or existing) tool has delivered on the value that it promised.

Agency leaders will look for innovative tools and concepts, but they won’t be instituting them based on their “wow-factor” – instead they’ll be scoring them on their ability to support the agency’s mission.

Backlogs at a critical mass

The challenges that some agencies have with backlogs are well documented. Citizen claims and appeals simply can’t be processed fast enough and they’re overwhelming the resources of the agencies that handle them.

Often times this means that citizens are waiting months (or even years) for a decision or resolution on their claims and appeals, while the long road to modernizing the underlying legacy systems that support the decision-making process further contributes to the delays. The old answer of continuing to add more staff or doing a “forklift” transition to new technology has shown to be hit-or-miss (at best) in its ability to reduce backlogs.

Going forward, we expect agency leaders to address them with a more practical approach – one that will focus on re-engineering the business processes to remove bottlenecks, streamlining repeatable tasks, and accelerating decision-making by leveraging technology, such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation.

Uncertainty gives way to direction

Last year the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo seeking internal and external input on how to find new efficiencies in government. The feedback from has now been received and reviewed, and the plans of action have likely been devised and should begin to roll out soon.

The results of these plans could have major impacts on government — from budget cuts to resource reallocation to elimination or integration of some agencies. Whether the actions taken are large or small, this process has created a level of uncertainty over the past year, which has led to slower-moving actions toward procurements to support new and existing initiatives within government.

As new mandates and guidance begin to emerge, while they could create some challenges and disappointments, we expect they will also begin to provide a clear path forward for government leaders. With this movement, we expect to see the development of new initiatives and the opportunities that come with them.

More public-private partnerships

Long the domain of physical infrastructure projects, public-private partnerships may find new applications as we explore their potential in non-traditional areas like technology infrastructure and utilities.

The administration’s stated infrastructure policy goals, which call for $200 billion in taxpayer money to generate $1 trillion in private investment, will likely spur interest from investors, bringing innovative ideas to for partnerships on roads, bridges, buildings and more.

However, there could be even broader potential in projects like federal contact centers, where private-sector partners often have more flexibility around their staffing models to manage surge support during peak times.

This year has already started with a flurry of new actions that present both challenges and opportunities for government and industry. With these and other trends shaping our federal landscape, we hope to see both government and its partners working together to deliver even better and more efficient outcomes to citizens.”

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2018/03/26/insights-romeo-market-trends.aspx

 

 

 

General Services Administration (GSA) Aims for E-Commerce “Sweet Spot”

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“NEXT GOV”

“The General Services Administration on Friday released the final plans for building a government-wide e-commerce portal that would make buying commercial products easier and faster for federal agencies.”


“In the proposal, GSA and the Office of Management and Budget detailed the timeline for rolling out the platform. The agencies also called on Congress to make a handful of legislative changes to open the door for online federal purchasing. Agencies would ultimately use the portals to buy products from pens and pencils to potentially more complex items, like mobile devices or other technologies.

“This opportunity to increase competition and improve transparency in the acquisition process can greatly reduce the burden the current processes place on both our acquisition workforce and industry partners,” GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a statement.

GSA and OMB are scheduled to spend the next year conducting market research and working with agencies and companies to hammer out details of the portal, such as terms and conditions for sellers and the products that will be available. The agencies plan to begin testing the platform by the end of fiscal 2019, with a final rollout scheduled for the following year.

The concept for the e-commerce platform sprung from the Defense Acquisition Streamlining and Transparency Act, a section of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Many criticized early versions of the bill, which would have granted a monopoly to a single e-commerce provider, but lawmakers amended the final version to require a phased rollout with multiple contracts and e-commerce providers.

GSA’s proposal recommends four changes to the legislation that are “viewed as necessary” to begin rolling out the portal. The recommended changes are based on feedback from government and industry, as well as an e-commerce industry day GSA hosted in January.

The agency requested Congress to raise the maximum purchase threshold for items on the platform from $5,000 for the Defense Department and $10,000 for civilian agencies to $25,000 for each group, as well as increased sharing of spending data across government. GSA also asked to increase its authority to modernize competition requirements and use various contracting vehicles to make the platform more efficient.

The agency also asked lawmakers to expand the legislation’s definition of “commerciale-commercee portal” to cover future technologies and business models.

“We didn’t want to inadvertently lock out something just because we hadn’t been thinking about it at the time,” said Laura Stanton, assistant commissioner for GSA’s office of strategy management, in a phone call with reporters. “It’s really to give us as many options as possible as we look forward to implementation next year.”

Stanton said meeting implementation deadlines are one of the agency’s “highest priorities,” and each legislative change it highlighted would help speed up the rollout. She added GSA might make additional legislative recommendations in the future based on the market research the agency conducts over the next year.”

http://www.nextgov.com/it-modernization/2018/03/gsa-wants-get-e-commerce-portal-and-running-2020/146742/

 

US Leads The World In 2017 Aerospace And Defense Exports

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U.S. Aero and Defense Exports

SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A Honeywell Aerospace T55 engine at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition in Goyang, South Korea.

“DEFENSE NEWS”

“The U.S. aerospace and defense industry was the global leader in exports of its type in 2017, accounting for 34 percent of industry exports, according to a recently released Aerospace Industries Association report.

China retained its status as the top purchaser of U.S. A&D products, buying $16.3 billion of U.S. goods. France and the United Kingdom ranked second and third, importing $12.9 billion and $10 billion, respectively.”


“Using data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the report finds the U.S. A&D industry generated $143 billion in exports last year.

Although slightly down from 2016’s near $146 billion high-water mark, overall A&D exports have increased 26 percent over the last five years.

The export of supply chain products such as engines, components and parts accounted for 56 percent of exports, totaling $80 billion.

In total, the A&D industry accounted for 9 percent of all U.S. exports, making it the nations third-largest gross exporter. The industry also generated an $86 billion trade surplus in 2017, the largest trade surplus of any U.S. industry.”

https://www.defensenews.com/industry/2018/02/12/us-leads-the-world-in-2017-aerospace-and-defense-exports-says-aia-report/

 

 

 

DOD Panel Proposes Big Cuts to Acquisition Red Tape

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“NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE”

“An advisory group empaneled to help streamline the Defense Department’s moribund acquisition system proposed eliminating 165 government-unique contract clauses, 13 acquisition offices, and repealing 20 statutory reporting requirements that act as barriers to the procurement of commercial items for military use.

The Section 809 Panel — created by Congress in the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act — is on a two-year mission to find ways to improve Pentagon acquisition. “


“The first of three volumes of recommendations was released Jan. 31, with the second expected in June and a final report in January 2019.

Volume 1 is “focused on accessing the seller, so we can get after whatever innovative technology they might offer to the warfighter before it is already obsolete,” David A. Drabkin, one of the panel’s 17 commissioners told National Defense.

The “Report of the Advisory Panel on Streamlining and Codifying Acquisition Regulations: Vol. 1,” said, “The prolonged length of an acquisition by DoD indicates the existence of two problematic issues: a workforce culture beholden to process over mission and a system that lacks incentives to quantify lost opportunity and manpower costs.”

The panel has identified several major flaws in the system. One is that it is cost-centric. It equates the cost of the product or service with the risk of an acquisition, and these arbitrary cost thresholds add authorities, processes and oversight to the regime.

The system is also “inflexible and takes a one-size fits all approach,” with dissimilar products or services being acquired under the same rules. “This approach results in unnecessary process delays and the inability to tailor activities to meet warfighter needs,” the report said.

Drabkin said: “People will tell you … that the department is buying yesterday’s technology to be delivered tomorrow. What we want to try to do is get to where we can buy tomorrow’s technology to be delivered today.”

The red tape and the risk-averse culture prevents the Defense Department from working with the widest variety of possible vendors, which can restrict its ability to get what it needs, the report added.

Many of the 20 reporting requirements, 165 clauses and 13 offices were once needed and put into place by Congress, but are no longer required, Drabkin said. The secretary of defense may choose to keep some offices for certain programs, but he shouldn’t be forced to use them when they are no longer necessary, he added.

Changing the mindset of the Defense Department acquisition community will require Congress to eliminate some of this bureaucracy, Drabkin said.

The report introduces the “Dynamic Marketplace” concept “that can harness the benefits from the global marketplace of ideas, solutions, products and services at a speed that is closer to real time than the current acquisition process allows.”

The Dynamic Marketplace concept is “about adopting the practices and particular market segment in which we are trying to do business instead of trying to make all of those market segments conform to our specific rules,” Drabkin said.

The one-size-fits-all complaint — where acquiring toilet paper is about the same process as buying a jet fighter — goes back decades, and there were attempts to fix that, but the world has changed since then, he added.

“We are looking at: how do we reset the playing field so DoD can get what it needs in time to make a difference so that our process will be agile? It will value time and speed. It will focus on innovation — not only identifying it, but getting it to the warfighter … inside the turn of our enemy,” Drabkin said.

There are five basic attributes to the Dynamic Marketplace concept that the panel is continuing to refine and evolve that will move the system from one that is process-based to outcome based. They are: competitive and collaborative; adaptive and responsive; transparent; time sensitive; and allows for trade-offs.

As for competitive and collaborative, the Defense Department’s rigid requirements process is scaring away companies with potential solutions. It should “compete solutions to a problem, rather than assess a company’s ability to meet detailed technical specifications.” Further, acquisition personnel are often fearful they will be punished for communicating directly with industry, the report said.

As for adaptive and responsive, the panel found several examples of success stories where the system worked quickly — such as the mine resistant, ambush-protected vehicles acquired to defeat roadside bombs during the Iraq War — and new initiatives such as SOFWERX and Hacking for Defense, which could be scaled up.

Those activities, plus strategies such as challenge prizes, have caused the panel to think differently about how it should propose changes to the defense acquisition system. They all ask for solutions to problems without spelling out a long list of restrictive requirements, Drabkin said.

“Transparency” touches on the inability for companies unfamiliar with the Defense Department to find entries into the marketplace. That is particularly true of small businesses, the report said. It’s time to quit relying on FedBizOpps and use platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to get the word out on opportunities, it recommended.

“Time sensitive” speaks to the process-driven culture. Adversaries are not beholden to the lengthy acquisition timeline, and potential vendors are driven away.

“Allows for trade-offs” means in some cases forgoing competition if the situation calls for it and empowering decision-makers with flexibility. Not all acquisitions are alike.”

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2018/2/1/section-809-panel-eliminate-13-offices-to-streamline-acquisitions

 

 

5 Steps to Stand Out From The Government Contracting Crowd In 2018

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Small Business Standing Out in a Crowd

“WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY” By Mark Amtower

“How can they stand out from the crowd to get some of those precious government contract dollars?

Several things come to mind but these five are usually at the top of my list. I have included a reference for each to a previous WT article.”


“Networking

We all understand that this market is driven by relationships: who you know, who knows you, what they think of you and you of them, and what you might be able to do together or for one another.

In the summer of 2012 I wrote an article on networking, which is a big part of the relationship puzzle. Where you choose to spend your time is critical. You have limited time and there are always many venues where you can network. Picking the venues which yield the best return on investment, where you can meet prospects, customers, partners, media and others, is a key component to help you stand out where it matters. You must be seen. Here is my column.

Strategy

I have been in numerous meetings where an executive will have goals, sometimes nebulous, sometimes well-defined, but they lack a strategy for reaching the goals. Knowing your goals is important, but without a game plan you will likely go nowhere and you will certainly not stand out. Read more here.

Differentiate

Clearly enunciate what you bring to the table. This can be a combination of things that make you and your company unique, or it can one really strong area of competence.

Combinations can include technical expertise, deep relationships with an agency, SMEs, owning a spot on preferred contracts, set-aside status and more.

The more you can differentiate in terms that appeal to government buyers the more you stand out. Read more.

Agency (account) based marketing (ABM)

I wrote about this back in November, but it is worth repeating.

Since the mid-1990s I have been advising companies to maximize their presence in agencies where they are known before they try to migrate to “greener pastures,” which are often pastures where they are not know. If you are selling in a cabinet level department to one or two divisions, why not expand to other divisions within that department? This is often a saner approach than migrating to another cabinet department or independent agency.

It is much easier to stand out when you are doing more business with your best customer(s).

Social selling

This is another recent column topic. Social selling is an adjunct to traditional selling, leveraging social networking platforms to start and manage relationships with customers, prospects, partners and others.

Social selling is the process of finding buyers and influencers on a social networking platform (I prefer LinkedIn), getting on their radar and sharing information that will make you and your company stand out from the competition. There are many social selling tactics that you can use, depending on who you are trying to influence.

LinkedIn is pervasive in the government contracting community and by adding valuable insights on social media you will most definitely stand out.

You can’t stand out by being part of the herd.”

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn. Find Mark on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower. 

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2018/01/17/insights-amtower-2018-strategy.aspx

 

 

 

 

Techniques for Small Business Product/Services Development in Government Contracting

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Image:  Getentrepreneurial.com

“SMALLTOFEDS” By Ken Larson

“INTRODUCTION

This article will suggest approaches in developing a product or service 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)/service(s); even if it is only a one-person operation at the start.

There are techniques for small business to gain government participation in growing an idea into a company. Small Business Innovative Research and Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs in major federal agencies seek concepts that can be funded and developed into products the government needs. Here are some examples:

DOD SBIR/STTR Small Business Portal

National Institute of Health SBIR/STTR

Service contracting is another form of gaining entrance into the market, creating opportunities for introducing products by selling skilled labor under a government agency service contract or prime contractor teaming arrangement.

A GSA schedule affords a platform for products and services, but sales must have been achieved historically in the commercial or government markets before applying because GSA relies heavily the most recent 2-year pricing data in negotiating a schedule.

The government contracting product and services venue is competitive and requirements by federal agencies are often bundled into larger systems procurements. Therefore, it is necessary first to position a small enterprise and its product offerings before tapping the federal market for development support.

GENERAL OVERVIEW

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.

Financing is always a factor and can be achieved through loans or investors with a good business plan. The remainder of this article will address the basic elements of a framework within which to succeed with your product development for federal government contracting.

BUSINESS STRUCTURE

For the majority of individuals who are starting single person or no more than 2 or 3 person operations, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) registered with the state and with the federal government is recommended.

It will separate personal assets from company assets and protect them. When product or services sales begin generating revenue an LLC has many tax advantages. It can be registered as Sub Chapter ‘S’ for tax purposes and revenue and the expenses can be passed through to personal tax returns, paying no taxes as a company. The double taxation issue prevalent with many of the other types of incorporation is avoided with a Sub chapter “S” LLC. An LLC assists in limits your personal liability for debt and court judgments that may not fall in your favor.

Representing the business as a company allows pursuing financing as an enterprise. You can think of a creative name for your LLC and you can complete the articles of incorporation necessary to bring your enterprise into existence. The term, “LLC” must conclude the name of your company if you decide to form such an organization.

Instructions for registering in your state and federally with the IRS are available at your state web site and at the IRS site. You will receive tax and employer identification numbers by registering your business.

PROTECTING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Patents and copyrights for your idea may ultimately protect you to a degree but the government agencies granting them have no enforcement arm so you must discover a violation yourself, retain a lawyer, bring a court proceeding against a violator and then hope to recover your costs and a reasonable settlement if you win.

The U.S. Patent System

Therefore, most of my clients use non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s) in dealing with other companies. Teaming is a practical fact of life in pursuing the larger federal government contracts.

You can download an NDA from the “References” Box Net Cube at the right margin of this site. Fill in the blanks as appropriate for a given exchange with outside individuals and companies. Before you meet to disclose details with a potential teaming company or investor, for instance, ask them to sign the document with you up front, put a serial number on it and reference the serial number and the agreement and date on any written materials you give to them.

After the meeting draft a short letter, documenting the minutes of the meeting, what was discussed and stating that the verbal disclosures and materials in the meeting are subject to the agreement and reference the agreement by number and date. Put an acknowledgment line on the letter and ask them to return a signed copy to you. This confirms their receipt of your proprietary information and their agreement to protect it in accordance with the NDA.

There are certain exceptions with regard to individuals or companies you may be dealing with on investing where you may not choose to use an NDA. Some Angel and Capital Investors are sensitive about being asked to sign them. You will have to trade their objections off against the value they represent to your company and conduct your risk analysis on a case-by-case basis.

For detail information asserting rights in technical data and software to government agencies and protecting intellectual property with other companies please see the following article:

Protecting Intellecutal Property

BUSINESS PLANNING

Visit 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 your enterprise and assist you in determining and supporting the amount of funding you need. Such topics as marketing, advertising, competitor analysis and financing are covered there. You will find a presentation and examples that you can follow in improving your plan or in generating a plan if you do not have one. The link to the site is below:

Writing a Business Plan

Articles on strategic planning and developing your marketing plan are also at the “References” Box Net Cube at this site. They address evolving an operations vision for your enterprise showing its potential to present to a banker or to an investor.

Here is a site with free business plan samples:

Business Plan Samples

It may assist you in visualizing your own business growth to look at an example of how someone else addressed a given topic. I have learned from having worked with many new business owners that it is best to have you examine the material and continue your plan, contacting me with issues and questions as they occur.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHILE PLANNING

Locate teaming companies to further the objective that they would market your product as part of their offerings with your company licensing and sharing in the proceeds.

A business plan and the guidance above for its generation is the road map for developing ideas, laying out how to expand the sales of your product and researching your market to do so. It will also assist in developing pricing to considering the direct costs of product development, service implementation and distribution as well as the indirect costs of the enterprise itself (operating expenses).must be considered and financed.

A negotiation position for a given product will be driven by certain strategic factors:

1. Does a developer or teaming partner have a strong but realistic incentive to actively make the product a part of the marketplace?

2. Does market research indicate the idea will have strong sales volume once it is developed and distributed?

3. How much will a prospective teaming partner or investor have to invest in the product to get it to market? Does the product require testing?

4. Which is the better deal? Is it better to receive a 7% royalty on $5,000 worth of sales or a 1% royalty on $500,000 of sales? Even though 1% does not sound too impressive, of course it’s the better choice in this example.

A negotiation position should be based on support by for the argument that a concept will experience a certain level of sales and the royalty should be based on a % of estimated end user volume sales, discounted for the investment that the developer and distributor must make to get it to market.

The royalty should be outside of the distributor cost breakdown and the end user cost breakdown. It is simply a deductive factor the manufacturer will have to introduce into their profit equation after the costs have been tabulated. They should not view royalties as a cost factor; they should view them as a share of the profit on the total estimated sales.

Chances of succeeding with a negotiation with a developer and/or distributor are increased by showing understand the prospective market for the product and drawing some comparisons between the product and other similar successful products.

Naturally there will be some give and take with the other side about estimated costs to get the product to market. Be forthright in acknowledging their investment but also support a position with some research and comparative data on the product potential.

Lastly, settle on a % of the end user sales volume based on an estimate to which is agreed with the other party and insures that the purchase agreement for royalties entitles the agreed upon % on all future sales.

FINANCING

The SBA assists prospective business owners in completing sound business plans, which can then be presented to a banker in applying for financial assistance.

In the event that 2 banking institutions deny a loan application, a candidate can apply to the SBA for a loan guarantee that may assist in achieving a loan, since it would back up the application to a bank.

Loan officers are interested in a business plan to get a view of the business future and place a value on products and services based on the market, the competition, the sales projections, costs, expenses and profit expectations. The link to the SBA loan guarantee program is below:

SBA Loans and Grants

Veterans have access to small business loans via the Patriot express program:

Patriot Express Program

ANGEL AND CAPITAL INVESTORS

Angel and private investors have two prominent characteristics:

(A) They want a high return on investment (ROI)

(B) They typically want a great deal of control of the operation.

According to the Colorado Capital Alliance, surveys of angel investors show that:

1. Angels are seeking companies with high growth potential, proven management and sufficient information about the company, its management team, and its market to be able to assess a company’s value.

2. On average, Angels expect 10 to 15 percent above of the S&P 500 return on equity.

3. Typically, Angels invest in companies seeking between $50,000 and $1,000,000.

4. Angels generally prefer to finance manufacturing or product-oriented ventures, especially in the high-tech fields.

5. On average, Angels are 47 years old, have a postgraduate degree, and management experience in an entrepreneurial venture.

An angel investor may ask for at least ten to twenty times return in just five years. For many angel investors, it’s not just about the money; they want to actively participate in developing your business. They want to act as a mentor and sometimes even to take an active role in managing the company. This often translates into the angel investor having a seat on the company Board of Directors.

Angels are also highly interested in an exit strategy from for a full return on their investment in your business. The closest thing to it is an astute business plan that calls out the specifics of potential ROI, based on sound planning and analysis and addresses the following as possible exit strategies. Remember, investors are very aware that an exit strategy cannot be guaranteed. But they can be offered more than the wishful thinking that an IPO will occur in three years.

It is always good to have a lawyer involved in complex documents or in the development of documents. This will further protect a concept. A lawyer does not necessarily have to be present during the exchanges with prospective companies, but a lawyer review and comment on documents before they are signed.

SUMMARY

This article has conveyed preliminary steps for the small business in product development for the federal marketplace.

It should be noted that much of the process discussed in this article is the same for the commercial product development and a certain amount of commercial success is usually achieved before selling products in the government contracting venue. The exception to that rule is in highly technical product pursuits where the government is funding advanced development.

To consider non-profit grants and direct government contract funding potential please see the following article:

Grants Vs, Direct Government Contracts

Once a company is formed, a product platform established and a position to market a useful product to the federal government is achieved, please see the following articles at this site in developing a marketing plan

Registering Your Business For Government Grants and Contracts

Multiple Front Marketing

Should You Consider Small Business Governement Contracting?

Small Business Teaming

With careful structuring, planning and marketing, a product with potential can find its place in federal government contracting.”

Smalltofeds – Techniques for Product Development

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ken Portrait

Ken Larson has over 40 years in the Military Industrial Complex. He is a veteran of 2 tours in the US Army Vietnam. Subsequently Ken spent over 30 years in federal government program and contract management and 10 years in small business consulting. As a Micro Mentor Volunteer Counselor, he assists many small businesses with their planning and operations processes. 

Marketing to Achieve a Small Business Set-aside Government Contract

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Image: Storedge.com

INTRODUCTION

Marketing is one of the greatest challenges for the small business federal government contractor. We have previously discussed the federal government marketing process at the following articles:

Insights to Succeed

Small Business Government Contract Marketing

Customer Relations

Techniques for Product Development

This posting will address sculpting a government contracting business opportunity to the point where it becomes a sole source or small business group-designated set aside procurement.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

Small business group-designated procurements are far more frequent than sole source contract awards.  Agencies must prepare special justifications for sole sourcing and those most frequently approved are for Hub Zone and Small, Disadvantaged [8(a)] firms (see table below).

Small business group designations are beneficial to firms who hold them by enhancing the probability of an award through agency restrictions on prime contractor bidding to only those who hold the group designation. Others may bid as subcontractors to the prime but the prime small business contractor must be capable of performing at least 51% of the total effort in terms of work scope, hours and dollars.

In either sole source or group-designated marketing, an agency making the buy must be convinced that sufficient capability exists in a single company or in the small business designated group community to set a contract aside. The agency must be convinced early – before a formal procurement announcement is published on FEDBIZOPPS.

Marketing to achieve a limited competition under a small business group designation or eliminate competition under a sole source contract assumes the marketing enterprise has one or more of the following federal government set-aside designations:

DESIGNATION                                                         TARGET

Small Business                                           (Group Set Aside Potential)

Small Woman-Owned Business                 (Group Set Aside Potential)

Small Veteran-Owned Business                 (Group Set Aside Potential)

Small Disabled Veteran-Owned Business  (Group Designation Set Aside Potential)

Small Hub Zone Business                          (Sole Source and Group Set Aside Potential)

Small Disadvantaged Business 8(a)          (Sole Source and Group Set Aside Potential)

Federal government procurements are further classified under the SBA Small Business Size Standards in terms of North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) Code, number of personnel and/or annual sales. To determine whether a firm qualifies for a given bid, note the NAICS for a given solicitation and download the SBA Small Business Size Standards the Box Net “References” Cube in the right margin of this site:

Small Business Federal Government Contracting

Part of the sole source or designated group set aside marketing task is to suggest to the agency the NAICS Code (hence the size standard) for a prospective procurement.

Registering to bid government contacts and establish sole source and group designations may be achieved using guidance in the below articles:
Small Business Set-aside Designations

Registering Your Business For Government Contracting

Hub Zone and Small Disadvantaged Business 8(a) designations are lengthy certification processes. The remaining designations in the above table are self-certifying at the above government contract registration web site, and are verified by site surveys and bid vetting for each solicitation prior to contract award.

EARLY REQUIREMENT TARGETING IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN SET ASIDE MARKETING
Effective set aside marketing reaches the agency decision makers with technical, budget and schedule authority before a synopsis of the requirement is posted on FEDBIZOPPS.

The objective of this form of targeted marketing is to get concurrence from the government to set the program aside sole source if the company has an 8(a), or Hub Zone Certification or reserve it by one of the above group designation classes to eliminate the prospect of full and open competition involving large business.

  • Become known to targeted agency personnel by visiting their program offices and meeting the decision makers.  Bring a capability statement:

Your Capability Statement for Government Contracting

  • Present your qualifications openly, objectively and specific to their needs.  You must determine what those needs are through market research, trade magazines, research on what they are buying on FEDBIZOPPS, as well as postings on their web site that are future-program oriented.
  • Subscribe to periodicals like “Washington Technology” and other trade magazines.  Observe agency trends and analysis that impact your market segment.  There have been set aside programs marketed by small companies through acquainting agency management and technical personnel with capabilities they were not aware existed in the small business community or fulfillment of needs they in fact did not know they had.
  • Pay particular attention to FEDBIZOPPS “Sources Sought” or “Requests for draft RFP Comment”  on programs that have yet to be formally solicited. Obtain an appointment to present your capabilities to the decision makers (not the gate keepers).  Be courteous to contracting officers but understand they are not the individuals who make source selections. Understand that once the requirement is formally published on FEDBIZOPPS the gate closes on informal visits to the customer and the competition begins in the form of proposals by competitors.  It is too late at that point to set the program aside for a sole source or a small business designation if it has not occurred by the publication stage.
  • Cultivate teaming relationships with other firms in your industry and look for early opportunities in agencies, not only to prime a program but to bring a team of qualified contractors in lesser roles to fulfill them with you or join a team being led by a more experienced firm:

Small Business Government Contract Teaming

  • Understand the small business start up past performance challenge and work to meet it:

Understanding the Past Performance Challenge

  • Attend small business outreach events by agencies and prime contractors.  Stay attuned to who is attending and research their needs and requirements.
  • Make a point to be present at bidders’ conferences for existing solicitations that you may not choose to bid but which may lend insight into the agency needs and prime contractor relationships in the future.

SUMMARY

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 any of the designations discussed in this article, make small business set asides or sole source procurements key elements in your marketing plan.

NATO Agency Seeking Bids for IT Modernization Program

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NATO IT

Photo: NATO officials discuss future cyber initiatives at the NATO Communications and Information Agency. (NATO)

“NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE”

“The program will span at least four contracts and be worth up to $537 million, and is expected to be completed by mid-2018.

NATO’s communication and information technology arm is seeking industry partnerships as it takes on a multi-year modernization effort for its information-technology systems, according to the organization’s acquisition director.

The NATO Communications and Information Agency — which runs the information technology, communications and command and control for the multinational organization — has opportunities for defense and IT companies in various stages of the modernization program, Peter Scaruppe told National Defense in February.

“The IT modernization program is a very important one because it basically replaces all of the IT in all the NATO locations, and for all the NATO forces,” he said.

The program entails: streamlining NATO’s IT service offerings to increase efficiency and effectiveness; using a customer-funded delivery system to increase the flexibility and scalability of IT services; delivering services from a centralized set of locations; and implementing increased cyber security measures, according to the agency.

Next on the priorities list is introducing a cloud-based services enterprise design by this summer, which Scaruppe called a major part of the modernization program.

“Storage is an important issue for all current and future IT programs, because with big data and the availability of big data, it is increasingly important,” he said. “We are anxious to see what companies will provide.”

NCIA Agency also plans to develop new data centers in Mons, Belgium, and Lago Patria, Italy, by early 2018, Scaruppe said. A third site has not yet been publicly revealed, but is being considered as an option “if and when we need it,” he said.

“This is for the IT support and operational support for NATO locations and operations,” he said.

NCI Agency has made concerted efforts in recent years to work more closely with industry to beef up its cyber defense capabilities. The agency contracts out about 80 percent of its work to the defense and security industries of NATO’s 28 current member-nations, Scaruppe said.

This year, the agency will host its annual industry conference in North America for the first time since it kicked off six years ago, rather than in a European country, “to note the transatlantic alliance,” he said.

The theme of the NCIA Agency Industry Conference and AFCEA TechNet International — which will be held in late April in Ottawa, Canada — is “Sharpening NATO’s Technological Edge: Adaptive Partnerships and the Innovative Power of Alliance Industry.” The conference builds upon last year’s theme of why innovation is important to NATO’s technological needs, Scaruppe said.

“Especially in the IT and cyber world, we know that there are a lot of innovators out there … not exactly keen on working with an 800-pound gorilla like NATO,” he said. “Some are not familiar with the process, [so] we need to catch the right innovators.”

One major part of the conference is dedicated to innovation challenges where agency officials and industry will discuss pre-determined areas of study, he said. “We did this last year, very successfully, and we got lots of proposals, many more than we thought we would get.”

Conference attendees will learn of upcoming business opportunities with an overall budget of about $3.2 billion over the next two to three years, Scaruppe said.

Businesses also have the change to speak with agency experts ahead of potentially bidding on a project.

“We do this every year, but we’re dedicating a lot more time to this part than usual [this year],” he said, adding that the agency hopes to attract more U.S. and Canadian industry members as a result.

Attendance rates at previous conferences have been about 70 percent European-based, Scaruppe said.

The agency is also looking to attract more cyber experts through the conference by running a next-generation skills exercise and innovators program, he said.

“We have a lot more work than we have staff for — and the same is true with the private companies — [and] we want to find innovative ways of how to attract these people, how to retain these people and also keep us current in the cyber exercise.”

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=2448

 

 

 

How to Make Your Expertise Visible to Customers

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chucks-blog

Image: “Chucks Blog”

“WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY”

“What can make a difference in terms of real business growth?

How can professional services providers—with clients to help, staff to manage, and hands to shake—assess whether their marketing approach needs a tune-up or a teardown?

The most productive business development strategy for professional services firms selling to the government requires a potent blend of expertise and communications that reach decision makers who are ready to act. That means leveraging both proven online marketing techniques – and the demonstrated expertise of business development professionals – even in the context of contract-driven revenue.

Making a Good First Impression Online

When decision makers have a problem, they go online.

Maybe they find a helpful article on an industry blog published by an unfamiliar firm. Overtime, they follow the blog, attend a free webinar, and maybe even receive useful tips in weekly emails from that same firm. If the decision maker later needs a speaker for a premium event, is looking for a contract partner, or needs to make a referral, they think of you.

How Buyers ‘Check Out’ Potential Professional Services Providers

check out professional services

Once, formal references would have dominated this chart. Today, a firm’s website is the uncontested champion, though buyers are typically using multiple resources. From search engines to social media, buyers have a wealth of ways to learn about providers and solutions—and they’re using them.

Identifying Expertise

Your accumulated experience in your industry is valuable for business growth—often, more valuable than you realize. Knowledge that you take for granted, ideas that may feel like the basics to you can provide essential insights to others. So take a step back and assess what you know.

The key to figuring out what expertise is worthy of building visibility around is to find the intersection of:

  1. Typical problems your target audience is trying to solve.
  2. What your experience has taught you about the causes of these problems.
  3. Services you provide that are important to your long term growth.

This information is fodder for educational, relevant, and accessible content.

Develop Great Content Around Your Expertise

The fact is your expertise can drive business long before you talk to a prospective client, partner, or even influencer. And that’s exactly what happens in the most successful content marketing campaigns.

Strong content has a couple of key attributes. It should be:

  • Educational. This isn’t guerilla promotion. Your content should teach audiences something valuable, not promote your firm.
  • Relevant. Your content should speak to target audiences’ real challenges and opportunities. It has to be rooted in a sophisticated understanding of their needs and marketplace.
  • Accessible. Content should speak your audiences’ language. Keep it clear and accessible while avoiding unnecessary jargon.

Give It Away

I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you’ll want to give away—free of charge—all that great content. The goal is business growth, and to do that, you want to put yourself in a position to advise your target audience. This is a great way to be introduced to a prospective buyer and spur business growth. Build credibility as a problem-solver in your marketplace, as a knowledgeable advisor. If you do, potential clients may choose you over a competitor.

Educational Content and High Growth

When your firm starts assembling its marketing toolbox, it makes sense to ask, “Which tools work?” After all, if a tool or technique isn’t going to make a demonstrable contribution to the bottom line, then why bother?

For answers, we can look to our studies on the marketing strategies used by high growth businesses that deliver the most pack to the punch. The table below shows the top 5 most effective strategies – the top 3 are directly related to showcasing expertise.”

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2016/12/14/insights-harr-marketing-expertise.aspx