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Unanet CEO Craig Halliday Explains GAUGE Report Results & Shares Vital Trends in GovCon

Craig Halliday brings a long history of technology leadership to his role as CEO of Unanet. The software company specializes in enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management programs aimed at the government contracting industry, as well as architecture, engineering, construction and professional services organizations. Previously, Craig has led companies such as EMS Software and Intelex Technologies as CEO.

The executive has also spent time at Arthur Andersen, J.D. Edwards, PeopleSoft and Oracle and has worked across the globe, in locations like Japan, France, India, China, South Africa, Australia and more.

Halliday, a 2023 Wash100 Award recipient, recently spoke with GovCon Wire to discuss the results of Unanet’s annual GAUGE Report—which surveys a host of respondents in the GovCon sector—breaking down what trends the company is seeing as most prevalent and the services Unanet offers to try and combat the challenges of today.

What do you see as the most sought-after technologies that government contractors will be investing in 2023? What do you foresee as the impacts of these tools?

GovCons are investing in automated, streamlined processes with robust reporting capabilities for all of their teams—anywhere, at any time—to reduce manual errors in their operations and to have greater insights so managers can make strategic decisions quickly. A huge focus in the market is real-time data, real-time information about projects. People want to know: where is my project? Where is it, not just last week, but where is it right now, right this minute? With nearly 70 percent of companies offering full-time or hybrid work-from-home arrangements today, paperless is the sought-after trend driven by the remote workforce. Unanet is designed for remote workforces, while legacy systems are not designed to be paperless and are struggling to service the remote workforce of 2023.

GovCons are also looking for financial clarity to manage budgets, costs, and revenue in one single solution because they are strapped for resources, primarily due to the talent shortage. They need technology platforms with low implementation and maintenance times, and improvement on day sales outstanding is also important—landing contracts and getting them onboarded is essential, so many are investing in customer relationship management solutions. Unanet’s tools help reduce DSO to less than 15 days and reduce errors, in most cases.

This focus on efficiency improvement will help GovCons succeed in our rapidly changing industry, even amid economic uncertainties and the talent crunch.

What do you see as the most prominent trends in GovCon today and why? How are you measuring these surges in focus areas / what are the relevant metrics in this arena?

We conduct a report called the GAUGE Report every year with CohnReznick and it is an excellent tool for understanding the GovCon landscape.

The things that we are seeing right now all circle the workplace and workforce. As mentioned above, a vast majority of GovCons are now offering either full-time remote or hybrid remote work environments. That is a big shift, and it comes with the requirement for all of the things I mentioned before. Everything needs to be online, everything needs to be real-time. It’s also creating complexity around taxes for remote workers. For example, if before, all of your workers were in Virginia, and now, because you’re offering remote, you’ve got someone near North Dakota or wherever, there are certain complexities that we need to help them manage.

Labor shortages also continue to be prevalent, as they have been for over a year now. An organization may win a great project, but how do they staff that project? There is also a continued drive toward product innovations as many GovCons are mobilizing for significant growth in anticipation of a greater than $850 billion defense budget for 2023.

How is inflation and flux in the economy impacting the GovCon industry? How do you see this playing out long term?

It’s quite interesting. Contrary to what you may think, 68 percent of GovCon business leaders are actually optimistic about the current environment. The allocations for federally funded projects are out there. The impact of inflation and flux in the economy, I think, is mostly telling in terms of the resourcing—resources are scarce. Getting good people for contracts so they are able to execute these contracts is the biggest challenge, according to our GAUGE Report and what we are being told by our customers.

How will Unanet’s products help customers stay current with the ever-shifting GovCon landscape?

Our interface is designed to make analyzing data easier, and we tailor features to meet our customers’ needs, so we are a partner in their growth and there to support them as they evolve.

We recently enhanced our Unanet GovCon ERP with new features for purchasing and licensing, as well as a detailed and robust reporting functionality so project managers can make strategic decisions that will grow individual contracts and ultimately help steer their companies toward expansion. This also helps make analyzing data easier. It’s hard enough to keep up with all these projects. You need to be sure that you’ve got reliable data and that you’re working with a reliable partner who will help you organize that data in the right way.

Throughout this year, we will continue to release an assortment of new features based on customer input and designed to help them succeed.

How have the services and the programs that Unanet offers changed in the time that you’ve been with the company and what major changes have you  shepherded with your leadership?

The bulk of what we’ve done is essentially broaden the series of offerings we have for our customers. Unanet was always an awesome platform, but now we prioritize the customer experience first and foremost. We make their systems intuitive, easy to use, and able to be used on mobile devices. For example, if you work all day in a SCIF, you come out, you just get on your phone, plug your time in for two minutes and you’re done. Focusing on that ease of use has been important.

Furthermore, Unanet’s advanced reporting solutions have been a focus of our recent offerings, as well as new CRM features that are helping our customers win more contracts.

It’s really just a matter of providing our customers with the best, most intuitive solution that can help them run their businesses more efficiently and productively. We value our partnership with GovCons and support them with personalized, modern solutions for all of the ever-mounting challenges they face in their fields.

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