Category Archives: Business

THE CASE FOR A GSA TRAINING EVENT

It is time for GSA to move ahead announce a new nationally-scoped training and show event.  The agency is not only harming its customers, but its contractors and itself by continuing a years-long exercise of introspective naval gazing on this issue.  Nothing speaks louder than the facts, so here are a few that should make the decision to hold such an even an open and shut case. 

  1. Unprecedented Demand for Training: It’s been over 2 years since GSA held a specialized show in Huntsville, Alabama to train DOD users on how to properly use GSA Schedule and other contracts.  Those sessions were totally sold out, with thousands receiving the training they needed to make sound, correct acquisition decisions.  GSA has ramped up its on-line training considerably for both government and industry.  The demand for training has likely never been higher.  With the Air Force, DHS, and other agencies scrapping their own contracts in favor of GSA-based vehicles, demand for training will only accelerate.  In-person training creates relationships and offers better opportunities for interaction than the most sophisticated on-line tools allow.  Even in this age of technology, there is sometimes no substitute for actually being there, especially when it comes to greeting new customers.
  2. Over a Thousand New Schedule Contract Holders:  A conservative estimate is that well over 1,000 companies are new to the Schedules program since the last GSA Expo was held.  We’ve taught a lot of Schedule training classes recently and, when asked whether they ever attended an Expo, approximately 90% of the class did not know what that was.  There are new people who need training on the industry side, in addition to the government.  As one our recent students put it, “we don’t know what we don’t know” about GSA.
  3. New Contracts, Solutions, and Technology:  Those new contractors brought new solutions with them.  GSA has created dozens of new Special Item Numbers that either offer new solutions that didn’t previously exist or were difficult to find.  Outside the Schedules, the last time the agency held a show there was no OASIS program, no EIS telecommunications contract, and an Alliant program that is nothing like what it is now.  Without a show, GSA’s customers may well believe that there is nothing new to see.  That’s a little like a car dealer still promoting its 2012 line-up.

GSA leaders were reportedly considering a show for 2019, but got cold feet.  The time to launch a show for 2020 is right now.  GSA Administrator Emily Murphy commands substantial respect, even though she was buffeted by Congressional oversight committees last week.  She has a tremendous opportunity to lead the agency forward and not let the past define the agency’s future.  Indeed, failing to act now opens the agency to future allegations that it is not doing enough to ensure that customers and contractors know how to effectively do business with GSA.

DOD CYBER FUNDING WOULD INCREASE BY $1B IN REQUEST

Despite overall uncertainty of exactly where defense money would be allocated under the President’s FY’20 budget request released last week, Pentagon officials did allows that their agency would receive $9.6 billion in cyber funding – $1 billion more than this year. The money would go toward not only hardware and software, but also toward the construction of new buildings to house DOD’s increasing cyber infrastructure.  In fact, nearly 20% of “cyber” money would be for construction.  Beyond that, over $500 million would go to support Cyber Command headquarters with “some” of the remaining funds to be targeted at R&D for both offensive and defensive cyber capabilities.  While CYBERCOM will fall short of their original FY’19 goal of spending $75 million through non-traditional procurement methods, CYBERCOM chief General Paul Nakasone predicted that his organization will come fairly close to that target and will continue to make expanded use of innovative acquisition techniques such as Other Transaction Authority.  General Nakasone stated that CYBERCOM needs such flexible tools in order to meet the changing face of threats.   “We invested in tools—significant tools for how we operate with our teams”, he said. “Secondly, big data analysis. Thirdly, an opportunity for our developers to operate offsite at a facility to look at new networks, new capabilities, new infrastructures.”  Cyber spending continues to soar, both in DOD and civilian agencies.  Make sure your company is prepared to meet the demand. 

YOU GOT YOUR APPOINTMENT, HERE ARE THREE THINGS TO MAKE IT A SUCCESS

Getting a face-to-face meeting with a prime government prospect isn’t always easy.  There’s only so much time on anyone’s calendar and not all of it can be allotted to contractor meetings.  Once you have the meeting scheduled, here are three tips to give you the best chance for success: 

1.  Be Prepared to Listen:  While you certainly want to make sure you talk about your great solutions, asking questions and listening first can help you shape what you say so that it’s of greater interest to your government contact.  Speak first and run the risk of missing key points or, worse, saying something that might annoy your prospect. 

2.  Know Who You’re Talking To:  Are you meeting with a technical person, program manager, acquisition specialist or someone else?  It’s important to know beforehand so that you can tailor your message to the appropriate audience.  Techies like to get specific, but so too do acquisition professionals who want to know how to get your solution, not just what it does.  Similarly, if you’re there to make a high level presentation and a tech person is in the meeting, you want to make sure that you have the right tech person from your side to match. 

3.  Follow Up:  You had a great meeting and the prospect is interested.  That’s what you want.  Next week, though, you’re scheduled to be at a conference.  Make sure you take time to call or e-mail from the event.  Failing to follow up is more prevalent than you might think and it essentially means that you’ve wasted a good opportunity.  Don’t leave your prospect hanging.  Reach out and touch someone (as the old saying goes.)

  Lastly, remember that it is the government market we’re talking about.  Today’s meeting may be just the first of several before you close business.

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOU

Allen Federal was in the “land of the mouse” recently teaching GSA Schedule “do’s and don’ts”. One satisfied student said, “We really didn’t know what we didn’t know”.  Yes, they have plenty of homework to do from the class.  No matter whether you’re an experienced contractor, or a newer market entry, it’s a sure thing that your company doesn’t know – or at least isn’t focusing on – issues that can cost your company money and time.  Waiting till later is never a good strategy, whether its contract compliance or seeing that medical specialist you’ve been putting off.  The problems only get larger and more difficult to deal with.  Make sure your contracts and federal business stay healthy.  Allen Federal consistently receives top scores for delivering on-point training that is both educational and entertaining.  See what we can do for you.  Contact us at info@allenfederal.com.

YOUR CUSTOMER COULD BE DISTRACTED AS CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT RAMPS UP

Multiple committees in the House of Representatives sent letters, and in the case of the Government Oversight Committee, subpoenas, to nearly one hundred offices and individuals throughout government last week.  While you may well have seen the headline, you may not have realized that these developments may distract some of your federal customers and slow the pace of business.They will.  Any time the Congressional oversight apparatus kicks into high gear agencies tend to call “all hands”, even if the number of people directly covered is relatively small.  First, someone – who is not the individual to whom the letter went – must gather whatever documentation the Congressional committee asked for.  Second, most agencies hold concomitant meetings to ensure that there are no other immediate closet skeletons that could widen the initial probe.  Senior level agency people you might want to call on for new business could have their schedules impacted.  If you’re already performing a critical support mission inside an agency your company, too, may want to conduct a quick double check to ensure that billing and other administrative matters are all running smoothly.  Congress isn’t the only branch of government causing a rush to the copier machines, either.  A federal court also ruled last week that GSA must turn over more documents than it originally did on the FBI headquarters issue.  Distractions abound.  Make sure you know what’s tugging at your customer and stay focused.