Tampa Bay Innovation Center recently hosted a TECH Talk session with Kevin Jans, certified federal contracts manager and founder of Skyway Acquisition Solutions, who discussed the federal competitive bid and proposal process. We’ve summarized his five tips for becoming more successful in the federal contracting arena.
With a budget exceeding a trillion dollars, the federal market is enormous – but the barriers to entry often seem equally large. However, with an understanding of the competitive process, nearly any company can compete for, win and prosper through federal contracts. Following are Jans’ five tips for succeeding in the federal bid procurement process:
Be patient. Understand that the acquisition process is complex and can be slow, taking anywhere from 18-36 months to obtain the first contract. However, once a company is established as a capable small business in the high tech arena selling in the federal market, opportunities will grow.
Make the sales funnel as wide as possible by diversifying target government markets and finding opportunities with a number of agencies and contacts.
Understand the depth and breadth of the federal demand for the company’s products or services. Commit to a methodical plan to grow, beginning as a subcontractor and then a prime contractor; or begin first with a small R&D contract and then build to a competitive effort. Avoid over-reaching beyond the company’s capabilities, because a poor performance record could haunt the company’s ability to win new work in the future.
Understand the type of contract being bid, as this will have a significant impact on cash flow and staffing needs. Examples include Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity contracts, Blanket Purchase Agreements and General Service Agreements. Each has a different approach to bidding, administering and expectation of use.
The federal budget only allows contracting officers to buy certain items and services with certain “types” of money, which also have different funding availability timelines.
The good news is that there are many opportunities across a broad spectrum in the technology environment, with a particularly high demand for technology that supports security, homeland defense and counter terrorism. There is currently a greater emphasis on competition in the federal market, which creates a great opportunity for companies that know how to compete in this market.
The lesson for firms looking to enter and grow their business in the federal market, then, is to do their homework, research opportunities, select opportunities with the greatest likelihood of success, ask for professional guidance if possible and have realistic expectations about the process.