GovCon Expert Kevin Plexico: How Businesses Can Succeed at All Four Stages of the Government Contracting Lifecycle

Kevin Plexico, senior vice president of information solutions at Deltek and a 2022 Wash100 Award recipient, published his latest article as a part of Executive Mosaic’s GovCon Expert program on Tuesday.

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Previously, GovCon Expert Kevin Plexico provided an insightful look into the most significant trends that could impact how government contractors operate in the coming year, especially in the federal and SLED (state, local and education) markets.

In his latest piece, Plexico discusses the four key stages of the government contracting lifecycle process and provides a full overview of the four stages in order for government contractors to understand how to advance opportunities and find success in this sector.

“With these four stages in mind, contractors should think through how to approach each stage with thoughtful analysis. Taking the right actions at the right times, and with the right information guiding their decisions, will help contractors manage the complexity of public sector sales and get on the right path to growing their government business.”

You can read Kevin Plexico’s latest GovCon Expert article below:

How Businesses Can Succeed at All Four Stages of the Government Contracting Lifecycle 

By Kevin Plexico

Successful government contractors of all sizes – from small businesses to enterprise – understand the complexity of doing business with the public sector. Government contracting has a lifecycle, with each stage representing a critical component of sourcing, securing, and delivering against a government contract.

At Deltek, we offer solutions across the entire government contracting lifecycle, from strategic sales planning before the contract ever goes out to bid, to helping companies prepare a winning proposal and capture plan, to fulfilling the contract, monitoring performance, and remaining compliant. That has given us a unique window into what successful sellers must do at each stage of this government contracting lifecycle to set their business up for success.

We see the overall “lifecycle” of a contract as four key stages:

  • Strategic Sales Planning
  • Capture Planning and Award
  • Contract Fulfillment and Reporting
  • Contract Completion and Renewal

Some themes occur throughout every stage – such as remaining in compliance with government requirements that may span contracts – while other strategies vary, depending on where a business is in the project cycle. Performing well at each stage can help businesses stand out from the competition, and allows them the best chance possible to successfully find, win, deliver and renew government contracts.

Strategic Sales Planning

Getting ahead of the competition requires getting ahead of the bid, and that’s the area of focus in the Strategic Sales Planning stage. Gathering and leveraging pre-RFP data and analysis to better understand upcoming opportunities is one of the most important ways to get ahead in government contracting.

In fact, Deltek’s most recent Clarity Government Contracting Industry Study, 81% of survey respondents listed having a “better understanding of opportunities and their requirements earlier in the process” as their “most important” or an “important” government business development challenge to overcome.

This intelligence helps enable contractors to make thoughtful and strategic decisions and is a good example of how to develop a winning proposal.

Most government agencies forecast their budgets years in advance. Long before formal RFPs are released, they begin soliciting bids on particular projects, allocating dollars in capital spending plans, or creating preliminary budgets, this timeline signals opportunities which may not appear until months or even years down the road.

 Similarly, in many cases government requirements are ongoing so opportunities can be anticipated by watching the timing of expiring contracts.

For this reason, many contractors find the key to a healthy pipeline of government opportunities is to create a strategic sales plan by tracking spending forecasts and pre-RFP opportunities as early as possible.

This allows for a proactive approach so that when the government is ready to release a bid, those contractors with a longer term view will be better prepared to shape the bid in their direction, which may give them the upper hand in winning the business.

Capture Planning and Award

Once the procurement has been initiated and documents have been solicited (including drafts) and are available, companies must determine if the opportunity matches their core competencies, and prepare its proposal and team to win the business. These are the focus areas of the Capture Planning and Award stage.

It’s important for a business to find the opportunity that best fits its characteristics. There are many factors to consider in order to win government contracts, such as: the type of contract, the length of contract, whether there is a set-aside for small business or minority groups, and the geographic location just to name a few.

In order to identify opportunities that offer the best chance of winning, an absolute must have been a complete picture of the competitive landscape, comprehensive knowledge of target agencies and a solid understanding of industry pricing. It is vital to have the right information and tools on hand to provide a complete view of the market in order to make the right decisions regarding which opportunities to pursue.

Even when an opportunity seems like a great fit, making the choice to submit a proposal is not a decision government contractors take lightly. The amount of investment needed, both in terms of time and expense, can be considerable.

Knowing how to respond to the RFP, who to partner with if necessary, and how to articulate past experience to help secure the winning bid are all important elements in proposal preparations. Relying on fact-based information and detailed analysis is crucial: If the analysis and data about an opportunity is accurate, contractors will be more likely to respond appropriately and win the contract award.

Contract Fulfillment and Reporting

Finding and winning more government opportunities are only the first part of the government contracting lifecycle. To continue to earn a positive reputation in the marketplace, contractors must deliver on what they have promised and at a high level of performance, all while navigating the complexities of remaining compliant, monitoring time and expenses, and passing audits.

In the Contract Fulfillment and Reporting stage, successful businesses provide their unique products or services to the government. As they do this, they must track their performance to deliver effectively. They must then manage and monitor the delivery of the product or service, while simultaneously managing internal costs and resources.

If a contractor can’t deliver goods or services in an efficient, timely, and productive manner, they will be less likely to receive favorable CPARS (Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System) rankings, which makes it more challenging to be selected for additional contracts, let alone growing customer relationships.

In order to deliver on the contract, businesses must be organized according to a project-based setup with a scope (the product or service to be delivered), the start-to-finish schedule, and the cost (generally the materials and the labor).

The project schedule must contain all the activities needed to deliver the entire scope of the project. After defining the project-based setup, the contractor will need to prioritize the maintenance of scrupulous accounting principles and practices to fulfill government compliance requirements.

Contract Completion and Renewal

For businesses that need to remain compliant as they fulfill their government contract and put themselves in the best position to win a potential contract renewal, it’s crucial to be able to serve as a trusted partner throughout the entire process, including the Contract Completion and Renewal stage.

Businesses that put as much focus on delivering a successful contract as they do on winning it in the first place tend to stand out from the rest.

While the completion of a contract term might be viewed as the last stage in the government contracting lifecycle, it also signals the potential renewal of that contract and a new opportunity to do business as the lifecycle restarts.

Many government contracts fulfill requirements that are ongoing, such as running a system, operating a facility, or fulfilling a program requirement.

While a contract coming up soon for renewal may signal the end of that contract’s specific fulfillment period, savvy business development teams who know how to build a long-term pipeline are often forecasting future business that can be won through that contract’s future renewals.

They do this by making it a focal point of their strategy to build winning relationships with government agency stakeholders, such as procurement officers or end-users, this ensures  their company is top of mind for being awarded future work when that contract comes up for renewal.

Summary 

Advancing opportunities through the four lifecycle stages – Strategic Sales Planning, Capturing Planning and Awards, Contracting Fulfillment and Reporting, and Contract Completion and Renewal – takes measurable thought and vision. The end result of landing a new prime or subcontracting opportunity, and potentially more down the line, is well worth the effort.

With these four stages in mind, contractors should think through how to approach each stage with thoughtful analysis. Taking the right actions at the right times, and with the right information guiding their decisions, will help contractors manage the complexity of public sector sales and get on the right path to growing their government business.

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