The Gift of Expertise

Ever feel like you have no clue how to solve a problem or that there has to be an answer out there, you just don’t know it?  Do you google randomly trying to figure it out, only to not be satisfied with the results?  Or (if you are like me), do you just want someone to freaking deal with it and tell you what to do in this circumstance?  Do you feel like you know it’s important, but there are a ton of things that you’d rather be doing or should focus on?

As you plan for 2019, be thinking about what expertise you need in the new year.  What will help move your business forward and, more importantly, grow your profit?  What is worthy of your time and what isn’t?  When do you play it safe with an outside opinion?  (answer:  Anything with a ton of money on the line or employee issues – call the expert!).

Here’s a short list of items that folks waste time on by doing it themselves instead of calling an expert to save a ton of time and in the right circumstances, a ton of money:

  • Affirmative Action Plans
  • Taxes
  • GSA Schedules
  • Employee handbooks
  • Policies and Procedures (to start)
  • CMMI/ISO certification
  • Office Space/Office Moves
  • FAR Compliance
  • Proposal Price/Cost Volume development and Analysis
  • Indirect Rates development and Analysis
  • Strategic Pricing/Price to Win Analysis
  • M&A (when you don’t have a shop of your own)
  • Website development
  • Complex IT Challenges
  • Bookkeeping
  • Graphic Design
  • Payroll

This holiday season, give yourself the gift of getting crap off your plate.  Budget for using an expert in one or more of these areas next year.  Reclaim your time!

If you need a referral or recommendation to anyone providing these services, just give us a shout.

Circle of Pricing

Pricing terminology is confusing! Everyone uses the language differently – with different philosophies on pricing, different terms for the stages of pricing and a lack of consistency for terms. All further complicated by which government agency you serve.

Here is the circle of life as it pertains to pricing in a nutshell:

Before the RFP Drops

Competitive Analysis/Price to Compete–this is looking at all external factors to understand your competition and determine what the competitive landscape will be. Think of this as coming up with a range of what would be competitive. This includes taking the following into consideration:

  • Competition and assessing your competitor’s rates
  • Government customer’s budget – current funding and projected forecasted spending
  • Customer’s previous history and buying decisions

This is normally done well in advance of the RFP dropping and can be critical to the bid/no-bid decision. It also serves as a guide for strategic planning and vision. Are you looking at opportunities that make sense for your company?

Draft RFP/Initial RFP 

Price to Win – this is a bottom-up build based on the draft RFP documents and final RFP documents. The end result is to model the Total Evaluated Price (TEP).

The inputs into the TEP (for example, the technical solution), are determined during the Competitive Analysis.

The outputs of the Price to Win analysis are to recommend specific strategies identified in competitors that can be incorporated into your internal pricing strategy. Price to Win should provide you with a comparison of labor categories, location, etc that are being priced by your competitors. You can use this information to compare to your own approach and make adjustments to your solution and to your pricing.

Strategic Pricing/Internal Focus – this is the bottom up and top down approach towards pricing out your technical solution. When done right, this is in lockstep with the technical team from the beginning. Factors taken into consideration:

  • Lines of code, widgets required
  • Hours and labor categories associated with each task, level of expertise required, labor rate
  • Travel/ODCs, subcontractors as required
  • Geographical location
  • Quality Assurance/Testing process
  • Certifications required
  • Multipliers/Wrap-rates used
  • Fee analysis
  • Assumptions documented

Depending on available information, relationship with the agency and when the technical solution is developed, this should be done in advance of the final RFP hitting the street (in a perfect world).

After the RFP Drops

Proposal Pricing/Cost Volume/RFP Based – the actual cost volume, narrative and documentation for the audit file. This is the hard-core spreadsheet work, section B, documentation for the cost volume, and everything associated with the proposal as it relates to cost. Ideally, this is done with as much lead time as possible. In reality, it is always one of the last items to be complete as the pricer is waiting on subcontractor submissions, final verification of the staffing plan and any other shenanigans that come up in a color review. The goal is always to have it done in time for a thorough review. The key here is compliance, compliance, compliance. Follow the RFP to the T, focus on checking boxes and keep it simple.

If you need any help with the above, please reach out to BOOST. We have SME’s who focus on each of the above areas and can support any phase of the pricing lifecycle.

Why Pricing?

BOOST is excited to announce the launch of our new strategic pricing initiative, designed to support your proposal pricing needs and provide Price to Win strategy that incorporates all back office functions. We want you to win work, grow and succeed. Strategic pricing can get you there. 

Pricing impacts absolutely everything in an organization. If you haven’t been thinking about it strategically, or have just relied on your accounting shop to pull together a spreadsheet, you are going about it all wrong.

Here’s what I mean:

Capture –

  • How much does this customer have in the budget?
  • What did the incumbent bid?
  • Is it worth it to pursue this strategy?
  • Is this a profit play or increase past performance, new client, new offerings?
  • Impact to teaming decisions and teammates?
  • Did you know that Capture “owns” pricing? They’re ultimately responsible for the bid price.

Proposal Team –

  • What key personnel do we bid?
  • What type of labor mix will show the customer that we can deliver?
  • What price will come in competitively?
  • How do we price our solution?
  • How will our competitors bid?
  • How will we ghost weaknesses?
  • How can the pricing volume help win themes?
  • Other volumes impacted by price, such as SB volume, Contracts volume?

Recruiting –

  • Who are the key personnel and how can I ensure exclusivity (if possible)?
  • What is the geographic location, skill set and salary rates we need to start pipelining beforehand and hire in execution?
  • Greening plan? Innovative hiring solutions for continuity of ops over the contract years?
  • What flexibility do we have on credentials?
  • What type of benefits can we offer to supplement for lower base salaries?

HR –

  • What training do we need to offer to current staff?
  • Who can move from existing work to new work, allowing for career path?
  • How do we manage the workforce needs of the new team?
  • If changing badges, how do we ensure they understand our culture, benefits, etc.?
  • What is the cultural impact to the organization?

Operations 

  • How soon can we transition fully and hire?
  • Will we be stuck managing a team of unhappy badge changers?
  • What is the impact to the other projects if we trade players?
  • How can we keep the customer happy with a new team?
  • How can we hire the talent we need at the salaries we bid?
  • How do we overcome a small (or non-existent) annual increase and keep the team motivated?
  • How will the contract type affect performance metrics? Should we account for risk in the bid?

Finance –

  • What is the cost to hire, how quickly will we hire and what are the cash flow requirements?
  • What will be the impact to margins?
  • How do we deliver for maximum profits?

Leadership 

  • What does the win do for us in the marketplace?
  • Can we deliver operationally and do so profitably?
  • What is the impact to our culture that we need to recognize?

Shareholders –

  • What does this do to the company’s overall position within the industry/market?
  • What is the financial impact?

Absolutely everyone in an organization is impacted (directly or indirectly) by the pricing strategy that you employ on the bid. It goes without saying that to start, you’ve got to win. But the need to win MUST be tempered with the above impacts. Winning a poorly priced bid for headaches in execution is NOT worth it. Do not fall into the trap of “must win at any cost” mentality. It can wreck culture, margins and reputation.

For all the above reasons, we are extremely excited to announce our strategic pricing shop. We’ve got 10+ senior pricers that cover practically every agency, who have won billions. As we push towards fiscal year end, utilize professionals who can help you think through all of the above and win.

Data Bullying

In the past month, we’ve seen no less than three clients who are actively being bullied by their own staff or their consultants.  What do I mean by bullying?  Being at the hands of someone who holds information as their weapon of choice.  People who deliberately make their jobs as vague as possible to hide their inefficiencies or inadequacies.  They do most of their work off the books or systems that their company utilizes.  This means spreadsheets that can only be filled by them, pipeline reports that have no context, CRM tools not updated, candidates whose resumes are not in their ATS or even access to company data not provided.

I’ve talked to CEOs who are the mercy of their bookkeepers who somehow mysteriously run payroll, invoicing and financials as if no one else can possibly figure it out.  CEOs who aren’t provided financial reports in a timely fashion to make important decisions about their companies.  I’ve talked to those who have outsourced their accounting functionality, only to find that they don’t actually own their own company data.  They’ve signed contracts with ridiculous clauses requiring payment for getting out early, while their data is either held hostage or not returned at all.

I’ve seen business development people run an entirely different CRM tool that they can take with them should they leave a company.  They use excuses such as the “data entry is tedious,” or that “the company CRM tool is too hard to use.”  They leave proposals on their laptops and forget to check entire documents back into the company’s repository.

I’ve seen recruiters who are “too busy” to upload resumes into the ATS or who correspond apart from their company email.  Or worse, they recruit for several different companies at the same time for the same candidates and positions, and play companies off each other (without their knowledge) in an effort to drive up their commission or fees.

Finally, there are PMs or Ops people who hold their relationship with the client hostage.  They are the only ones who can communicate directly.  They keep their deliverables on their laptops, they won’t allow their contracts shop, or even their management to speak with the program office.  They keep their relationship deliberately convoluted, yet report all greens on their PMR charts.

To this, let me be clear in my message – NO ONE, absolutely NO ONE is indispensable.  CEOs commonly think that they can’t live without a certain person.  They whisper that they will lose their re-compete or that they won’t have payroll processed or that their BD person will change companies, or they will lose financing with their banks. While there is no argument that losing this person will hurt in the short term, having this type of hostage situation resolved will absolutely provide peace of mind to your organization in the long term.  Not being beholden to someone for their data (which, is YOUR data) is freeing.  Coming to the realization that no one is indispensable is freeing.

Take back your company, CEO…. it’s your risk, your reputation and your livelihood.  Own it.

Do you feel you’re in danger of or in the midst of an information-held-hostage situation? Let’s have a conversation and see what’s really going on, [email protected]

Cyber Strong

It’s Friday the 13th with Halloween just a few short weeks away (side note: where did this year go?). What frightens you, growing GovCon? Often its lack of differentiation, lack of funding, stale growth, stiff competition (at lower rates!), budget cuts and finding qualified, capable teammates. Here’s one more ill to add to the pile…Cyber Compliance.

At BOOST, we’ve been lucky to have amazing Cyber experts as clients. We love this community – they get shit done. Whether they are on the offense or playing D, they love a good fight, they love to find the loopholes, they challenge the established, and they do it well. This mindset goes well beyond the traditional, old school, fill-in-the-seats GovCon. These types of companies are exactly what the government needs to fight the bad guys.

Having these people in our network has helped open our eyes to the new regulations at the end of the year circling around the new FAR clause that includes CUI compliance. As we all scramble towards the path of compliance, take a step back and ask yourself, what is your organization doing to keep its information secure? What would you do if your organization was compromised or hacked? Do you have a plan? More importantly, is this even on your radar?

All things cyber can be quite scary for a startup, especially if cyber and/or IT is not your background. We must rely on the experts and their guidance. They are out there – many newly established, single -person consultants who are trying to ride the wave of doom and gloom on CUI. Be careful when choosing with whom you’re going to work. BOOST’s partner has been in the business for 10+ years, talks the talk and walks the walk. The company has published books on cyber compliance and is well known in the industry. (Shout out to EmeSec!)

In short, don’t fear the compliance changes that are coming but look to strengthen your company in areas of risk. Grow your network to include expertise in this area. It’s not going away and can help reduce your liability as you grow and scale. Cyber security isn’t simply an industry; it’s a necessity for your business.

If you need a recommendation or introduction, I know a group. Reach out and let’s get you on the path to strong cyber, [email protected].