Jennifer Sakole is the principal analyst for Federal Information Solutions at Deltek. Her experience spans 20 years in the federal market in various roles including proposal writer, pricing analyst, marketing manager and account manager. She has been with INPUT and Deltek for over a decade. ()
Deltek’s Vice President of Information Solutions, Kevin Plexico, recently hosted a virtual roundtable with Chip Taylor, senior director of STG’s IDIQ Management Office, and Erik Terhaar, director of Unisys’s IDIQ Center of Excellence. The program’s title: Getting the Most Out of Your Task Orders.
The complete roundtable recording is available here, but in case you don’t have 50 minutes to spare, here are my top five take-aways from the discussion:
1. Centralized vs. decentralized management of task order-based contracts is an indicator of a company’s growth. When making a decision about whether or not to centralize, the panel indicated that it depends on the size of the company, the number and variety of GSA schedules, GWACs and agency-specific IDIQs the company has and whether or not the company has executive buy-in for a centralized approach.
When a smaller company has one or two vehicles, there may not be a need to centralize. However, as a company adds more task order-based contracts to its business portfolio, it will make sense to evaluate which processes and resources can be leveraged across multiple contracts.
Executive buy-in is critical to ensure the resources are made available to help review and parse out solicitations and requests for information (RFIs) and to support the standardization of bid review processes, response development and reporting.
2. Things are changing in bid/no-bid decisions. Changes in the buying power of the federal government and the subsequent reduced budgets of contractors have led to a more focused approach when bidding, resulting in companies being more inclined to target only the customers they know well or work that is strictly aligned with their core competencies.
What the panelists have seen is fewer companies bidding on task order solicitations that do not fall within the area of focus, resulting in fewer bids and reducing the competitive field a bit. The panelists acknowledged that companies should take this into consideration when building a pipeline and evaluating pop-up bids.
Business development professionals who want to expand beyond a tightly-focused area of pipeline development may face internal change management issues. A standard train of thought about responding to solicitations has been that if you don’t know anything about the opportunity before it is released, you shouldn’t bid on it.
However, a key point of the roundtable discussion revolved around pop-ups and recognizing that if your company has relevant experience and can put out a compliant bid, then there is a greater chance of winning the work -- especially with the increased use of lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) contracts.
3. It is increasingly important for project managers of GWACs, GSA Schedules, and other IDIQ vehicles to be well versed in both operations and business development. Companies are relying on project managers to promote and market the company’s vehicles and capabilities not only with customers, but also with partners and other organizations within the company.
Beyond knowing customers’ preferences for using one vehicle versus another, project managers are becoming the go-to contacts internally to help company business units know which vehicle is best suited to its offerings, customer base, and sales strategy. Project managers are critical in cultivating new teaming partners and identifying gaps they can fill as a member of the vehicle team.
4. Reciprocity is a win/win approach. As the government strives to increase contracting with small businesses, both panelists agreed that they have seen an increase in follow-on tasks that are either split up so a portion can be reserved for small business, or moved from a full and open vehicle to a small business vehicle.
Reciprocity comes into play when partners have either the large or small business contract, like Alliant and Alliant SB, and they agree to leverage both companies’ contract portfolios, partnering regardless of the direction of the solicitation.
5. Collect metrics to make future planning easier. The metrics shared by both speakers were aligned with industry standards and are most likely similar to what your company is doing. For each contract, you want to know:
• Number of bids released. One reason this is important is to understand the volume of work being sought under the vehicle. If low volume, without a great return on investment, a company will want to take that into consideration when deciding to pursue the next iteration or follow-on of the contract.
• Company bid decision. Evaluating how many opportunities were not bid and including the reasons for the decision can be used to identify trends within the company -- such as needing to expand business development efforts within a customer base where there are not high levels of customer understanding, knowledge or interaction -- or justifying resource reallocations if there simply weren’t enough available to prepare responses.
• Number of wins. Understanding capture ratios will help a company know which vehicles are working for them and which are not. It was recommended to schedule post-award meetings with the government to understand why you did not win, and address the issues within your process.