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Whack a Mole Leadership

Perhaps it’s the chaos of 2020 or maybe we all are trying to multi-task more than ever, but I’ve seen an uptick in what I would describe as “whack-a-mole” leadership.  You know, where one week there is a push to go in one direction.  The next week, that initiative changes or falls off the radar, and we focus on another thing.  The “Squirrel!” type of attention span that your dog has.  Or your 5-year-old.

By constantly shifting focus and redirecting the team, you see the following:

  • Lack of buy in – if its changing next week, just hunker down, agree and ride it out until people stop asking about it
  • Worse…buy-in – Only to find that it’s not really a thing and then expectations and hopes are dashed. This can lead your team to NOT buy in on something really good the next time. Don’t be the boss who cries wolf too many times.
  • Burn out – If you keep moving the ball, people get exhausted trying to get to the goal.  Let’s face it, we’re all exhausted this year anyway. This isn’t to say that if you meet your previously set goals that you shouldn’t keep moving. Just don’t pick up the finish line before the team has a chance to get there.
  • Lack of results – Everything is half done/half-implemented/half thought through.  Nothing is completed and nothing is moving, which means no one is making money.
  • Higher multiplier – Generally, this means lots of time on Overhead or G&A, driving your wrap rate up while not getting the results or efficiencies that you were probably striving for.

2020 continues to be a hell of a year.  It does require changing quickly, figuring out what works and dumping what doesn’t efficiently.  That doesn’t mean that you can reverse course on absolutely everything. Foundations need to remain intact and stronger than ever. It’s hard to see what the next month brings, much less next year.  But while you do have to stay agile, you also need to be thinking longer term as we start edging closer to 2021 and budgeting/goal setting for next year. If you’re looking for a push in the right direction, connect with Stephanie and let’s see where you can shift focus toward a more efficient direction.

 

The word of the quarter is: FOCUS!

Government 4th Quarter… Who the Heck Knows?

‘Tis the quarter of last-minute proposals, mad scrambles for key personnel, task order bidding, and trying to keep everything straight between whose team you are on and for what.  Add that to trying to manage multiple folks on vacation and everyone suffering from a bit of summer head (i.e. we’d rather be at the beach mentality).  Oh, and COVID… can’t forget work-from-home-forever, COVID.

It’s a time when some folks lose all strategic perspective and go whole-hog into the throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what hits strategy.  What is the difference between 5 proposals or 6 they think?

But….2020.  Need we say more?  Our response to practically everything these days is…2020.
Keeping all of that in mind, what does this government 4th quarter actually look like?

We’re hearing mixed results.  Some folks seem to be business as usual (which means crazy).  Our pricers are busy as are the proposal peeps.  There are a significant number of folks going after 8a STARS right now too.  But some folks are reporting that things seem quiet….eerily quiet.

For those on the quiet side, the question becomes, is there a true lack of opportunities?
Potentially, and here’s why:

  • Everyone is still focused on COVID related acquisitions
  • Money was spent on other priorities (IT infrastructure and/or pandemic related)
  • Acquisition process is slower these days due to remote work
  • Less intel opportunities since everyone is running at 50%
  • Less opportunities that are not on the large GWACs/IDIQ vehicles
  • Category management has effectively become the have and have nots, squeezing small business
  • Lack of access to government officials – everyone’s home, wandering around for snacks, not wandering the halls for business

Whatever the case may be, what’s important is that business owners and business development folks keep on top of the rumors, what they are seeing in their business and talk to their frenemies about their experiences.  Don’t be complacent that what you are seeing or experiencing is the same everywhere in GovCon.  Don’t fall into the trap or get lulled into a significant pause on your growth strategy or BD goals.

Not only do we spout great advice, we take it too. In our conversations with partners and frenemies, we’re continuously gathering new data on trends and gut feelings. Luckily for you, we don’t keep it all under wraps. BOOST is sponsoring the upcoming govmates Institute with Wolf Den & Associates titled, Virtual First: Business Development in a Post-COVID World. This event is free to govmates members. Check out the institute page and apply for a seat at the virtual institute ASAP.

What are you seeing in your line? Head over to our LinkedIn Page and join the conversation about current industry trends and where businesses are going from here.

Distributed Workforce – The Future Is Now

At BOOST we have a strong bench of really intelligent SMEs with knowledge that goes deep into their service areas. Below, you’ll find a note from one of BOOST’s SME CFOs about the future of work and the high-potential for a “new remote-work normal.”

Don writes:

While the COVID-19 pandemic effects are in our constant near-term thinking, one thing it has done is force many employers and customers to look hard at a remote workforce where it was not previously a consideration.  Continuing virus flare-ups until a vaccine is available in the next 12-18 months will cause sporadic work-at-home orders.  Your entire workforce could be whipsawed between the “new normal” and hunkering down at home for 2-4-week intervals over the next year or so.  It might also induce some of your more valuable staff members to choose to permanently work from home as their only option and either force that option on your management team or find another employer who will accept their demands.

This link from the National Bureau of Economic Research is an April 2020 white paper on the impact and possibilities of a remote workforce driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The report indicates that by the NBER’s criteria, approximately 34% of the total national workforce could work remotely.  Additionally, the Washington, DC metropolitan area is second only to Silicon Valley in the percentage of total workforce and the labor-dollar-weighted workforce that could work remotely at 46% and 61%, respectively.

In my opinion, this shock to the economy and workforce will require many to seriously reconsider the possibilities of a remote workforce for your staff and customers.  While your management team is working the near-term issues of solving staff assignments, product deliveries, customer expectations, profitability, and cash flow, it’s not too soon to begin planning out how your own leadership principles, company culture, and facilities can all be maximized to get ahead of the curve – which, I believe, is surely coming.  A series of questions like the following can help crystallize your team to focus on the mid to long-term issues:

• Which staff assignments truly “require” our company staff to be at a customer or company location over the long term?

• If our staff assignments are moved to a maximized remote workforce:

• Can our IT facilities and capabilities handle the workload, or do we need to expand capabilities?

• e.g. Cloud storage; Virtual meetings; Collaboration workspace; Standardized software tools; Network capacity; etc.

• Can our physical facilities:

• if leased, be reduced, or renegotiated to reduce fixed costs?

• if owned, be maximized for leasing or partitioning for the new reduced workforce?

• Can our organization react flexibly to new cost structures to increase competitiveness and improve profitability?

Most importantly, can our leadership principles and company culture:

• Be clearly and constantly communicated to our newly distributed workforce?

• Ensure that our customers receive (and perceive) excellence in work product, support and value delivery?

• Be effectively applied to ensure that our staff are continually maximizing efficiency, effectiveness, and individual and team motivation?

We’re keeping everyone in our collective thoughts – especially the heroic medical professionals and staff; first-responders; and all of the essential retail, logistics, and utilities workers.

Our BOOST SMEs are some of the smartest people we know. If you need a resource or an introduction, let us know. We’re all in this together. Share resources, stay connected (digitally of course), and treat your people well. They will remember well beyond this season of change and that is going to make all the difference.

Is Running a VAR Keeping You Up at Night?

Two parts of running a successful business in GovCon are knowledge and compliance. You need to know your requirements and how to follow those directives. Add to that the complexities of running a VAR/reseller and we’d bet that there are several things keeping you up at night – in addition to booking sales that is.

Below are some important compliance items that you should keep in mind.  Maybe they will even help you sleep better at night (probably not, but we’re trying!).

  1. Service Contract Act complianceThis is especially important for those offering ancillary services in support of the products (think maintenance, warranty or help desk). Many of the VAR/reseller-type services are potentially covered by a Wage Determination.  Most VARs do not provide the services themselves, but rather, the OEM.  Add this to the fact that most services are buried in the product line item, it can be challenging to determine whether or not the SCA even applies to your PO. As such, a certain level of “due diligence” needs to be conducted to ensure compliance. The last thing anyone wants is the DOL knocking on your door with an audit request.
  2. NMRThe infamous Non-Manufacturer Rule (NMR) is a thorn in any VAR’s side when it comes to GovCon and IT. The NMR is an exception to the SBA performance requirements and limitations on subcontracting (LOS), which provide that on a supply contract, a firm must perform at least 50% of the cost of manufacturing the supplies. FAR 52.219-14.  There are some large vehicles, such as the NASA SEWP, that contain the LOS. Practice tip – if you are selling big IT equipment, ask your CO to remove the clause from the solicitation.
  3. Efficient “vendor” managementAlongside the heavy traffic of deals streaming in and out of a VAR, it’s hard to imagine tracking, managing, inspecting, and reporting all of your vendors. Compliance requirements for counterfeit parts, data breach safeguarding, and flow downs seem like an impossible mountain to summit. Let us shine a light in the darkness here for you: BOOST can provide a framework and strategy to best manage these pieces while saving you sanity and time.

Even if you’re sleeping at night like a bear in winter, these can still cause quite the headache.  Our mission at BOOST is to alleviate your headaches by helping you with the stuff you don’t have the time, the interest, or the man-or-woman-power to handle.  Focusing only on GovCon, allows BOOST to make your life easier and more efficient.  Let us help you cross another task off your list, email [email protected] and let’s discuss the possibilities.

Corporate Housekeeping

As we turn our attention to back to school sales, last summer vacays, finishing up our trashy beach novels and start shifting towards the fall, it’s a good time to take a minute and do some general housekeeping. Face it – it will be the holidays before you know it!

GovCons, you are in the lull between the storm – proposals are submitted, awards are forthcoming but not here yet. Tt’s a great time to catch up on some of the mundane, but necessary parts of doing business.  It’s boring, and always gets pushed to the back burner as more revenue-generating opportunities come in.  But ignore these at your peril – they always come back to haunt you at tax time, during a transaction or with any litigation.

We’re kind of like sour patch kids, here at BOOST. Now that we’ve given you a bit of a gut punch, here’s a quick checklist to keep you sane:

1. Org Chart
When was the last time you actually updated it?  Do it now before you onboard all the new contract wins.  This way it’s readily available.  Now might also be time to consider if folks are really in the right positions/titles.

2. Articles of Incorporation
Time to dust it off and make sure it’s still legit and up to date

3. Board meeting minutes
For privately held companies, this can feel like an administrative task you don’t want to do.  Remember that these board meeting minutes come in handy when you are looking toward a sale, are in litigation/disputes and are just plain good practice.

4. Tax Filings
Given all the changes, are you structured the way you should be?  If your uncle is still providing all of your advice, it might be time to get a second opinion.  Are you maximizing your tax status for your long-term strategy?

5. State filings
We always forget that when we add new employees in new states, we suddenly must start filing taxes.  Be proactive about registering and don’t let it be a nasty surprise year in arrears.

6. Insurance
When was the last time you sat down and went through what you are covered for and where you might have gaps?  I absolutely HATE this practice but make myself (and another person to get a different perspective) sit in the excruciating meeting and review everything.  Line by freaking line.  It’s horrible, my broker hates us, but we’ve discovered multiple things that weren’t covered or that we didn’t need to pay for.  It’s worth the investment of time (and sanity) once a year to know your risks.

 

If you need help with anything, we’re happy to give you our advice or introduce you to others that have that specialty.  Don’t slack off as we head towards the fall.  It will only come back to haunt you when you least expect it (or have time to deal with it!).