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Easy Tips for Competitive Data Gathering

As small business contractors, we know how tough it is to get daily operations up and running; let alone set up a proposal shop and to go after business.  Most often, it’s a one-person shop, hunting and gathering crumbs in the govcon jungle. This can obviously be very overwhelming and wasteful as time passes, but there are some quick and easy ways to be a bit smarter about planning your bids.

This industry, as we all know, is quite cutthroat, not just in price/rates, but also in partnerships/performance.  If you’re in the right place at the right time (read: right team/right contract), you can suddenly find yourself on a meteoric path to growth. However, most often you’re just trying to get a few contract full-time equivalents (FTEs) here and there until you get enough past performance or a wonderful set-aside contract drops into your view.

There are some ways you can make some intelligent bid/no bid decisions, and also sharpen your proposal approaches.  We recommend some free (elbow grease required) sources below:

  1. Free government sources
    1. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Includes cost of living tables, economic indicators, fringe and tax data. If you don’t study macro-economic trends, you could be missing the pulse of the market.
    2. DoL website – Also contains wage rate tables for Service Contract Act, by location. This can give you a good idea about how to modify and/or plan for benefits plans for nonexempt contracts. This can be a huge risk if not accounted for.
    3. GSA website – Includes various schedule rates and top-line data for companies, can be a good starting point to compare and contract. Sometimes the RFP requires you to bid in these ranges, so it’s good to have these as data points to triangulate your bid rates.
  1. Government funding/budget data
    1. Usaspending.gov – This website contains spending charts where you may find very useful trend information. It’s a good research site.
    2. Federal Procurement Data System – fpds.gov – direct source to get previous contract funding/obligation data, by company, by contract. This can be very useful to obtain trends and do some back of the envelope analysis.
    3. FBO.gov – may contain past government contract info, interested vendors, industry day info, etc.
    4. Industry Days – These are potential opportunities to attend in person or dial in. Ideal for intelligence gathering.
    5. Small Business Administration – sba.gov. This website contains some good information on how to gather competitive data and has a few tools to help gather free research.
  1. General Websites
    1. Glassdoor – employee reviews, can indicate benefits across companies, morale, contract headcount, job descriptions.
    2. LinkedIn – resume descriptions, contract sites, recruiting notes
    3. Corporate websites – often post job listings and sometimes provide benefits info. Read the annual reports for public companies; you can see trends within the financial reports and project out a feasible G&A rate for most of these companies.

 

Data gathering may be snore-inducing for some, but we have the connections to those who thrive on this type of hunting and pecking. If you would like an introduction or a roadmap to your best strategies for data capture, email BOOST. [email protected]

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]