Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What were they thinking?!?!?!

Let me start by picking a 16 year old scab. In 2002, PwC tried (briefly) to rename itself Monday.

This is not, repeat NOT, a joke.

The response was swift, merciless and came from all fronts: the business media, Wall Street, comedians, shareholders, employees and industry.

One of my favorite responses was this:

“The day of the week formerly known as Monday would like to announce its name change to distance itself from PWC Consulting. Forthwith it will be known as Tuesday Eve.”

They reverted to PwC before the following Monday... but it begs the question: What were they thinking?

Now comes the news that PwCs spinoff is named Guidehouse. (This actually happened in May, so I am a little behind.)

Wait- what? You mean Lighthouse?

No Guidehouse.

Maybe Brickhouse?

No Guidehouse.

Not outhouse?

No Guidehouse.

Safe House?

No Guidehouse.

Dog house?

No Guidehouse.

Doll house?

No Guidehouse.

OK, so what's a guidehouse?

I crack open my OED and look:

Guidebook- check.

Guided Imagery- check (ooo- I like that one).

Guidepost- check (I like that one, too).

Guide rope- check.

Guideway - check.

Guidehouse? Nothing.

In PwCs defense, it does not own Guidehouse. Veritas Capital owns Guidehouse. The new website explains the name as "leading the way forward" and "looking into tomorrow through an innovative lens that challenges the now."

OK, a sherpa with a crystal ball. I'm beginning to see it.

The Washington Technology article quotes the CEO of Guidehouse as saying the name is a "metaphor for Guidehouse staffers being a trusted partner to help agencies navigate their changing landscapes regarding budget, technology and strategy."

A metaphor? Guidehouse means all that? Really?

But what's in a name? Perhaps another name that launched a thousand jokes...

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Why the 2018 Federal Government Contractor Study is Essential for Small Contractors

This past Tuesday I attended the briefing for Market Connection's latest study, 2018 The Federal Government Contractor Study. The study was co-sponsored by the Professional Services Council and the Merritt Group .

The goals of the study included

- identifying best practices of winning government contractors
- identifying the challenges of marketing and business development professionals
- determining how marketing and BD are organized and how they work together
- measure the effectiveness of marketing materials, activities and tools
- determine strategies used when targeting and responding to RFPs
- and to quantify changes in personnel, budget, tools, teaming partners and communications.

I am not going to do a deep dive here. Instead I will highlight what I consider to be some key points for small contractors, the areas you must pay attention to in order to succeed. I strongly urge you to download the study overview and review it with your staff.

On page nine (9), the first page of the findings, there is the list of Organization Capability Ratings, which include:

- demonstrating thought leadership and subject matter expertise
- government customer relationship management
- readiness to adjust to changing government acquisition strategies
- differentiating from the competition
- capturing and managing customer, prospect and contract data
- overall marketing investment
- providing the sales organization with marketing support
- lead generation
- tactical business development/sales efforts
- and moving leads and prospects through the sales funnel.

I have highlighted three areas above as critical for small contractors. Small contractors have fewer resources than larger firms, and while each of the above is important, the three I highlighted can provide the most traction for smaller firms in a shorter period of time.

Thought leadership/subject matter expertise (SME): I have been preaching this sermon for years, and it remains perhaps the most critical issue for small biz: highlight your main area of expertise and develop it it fully. Work hard to be at or near the top of whatever that niche is.

Defining and defending that area of expertise should be job one. Job two is making certain you share this SME status in the major places people will vet you: your company web site and your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn.

Differentiation: is part of the SME platform development. There are many ways to differentiate your company from the competition, including:

- unique process or technology
- staff has higher level certifications/training
- company possesses cert levels not held by many (CMMI Level 3, etc)
- higher level of service (aside from lip service)
- specialization in a horizontal area (finance, transportation, supply chain, etc)
- specializing is one agency
- and many more.

You can further differentiate by combining two or more of these. Defined and used well, your differentiators can help you win more business sooner.

"Differentiation beyond price" is a recurrent theme in this study

Tactical business development and sales efforts: contractors with fewer resources need to focus on activities that get traction quickly. These efforts need to focus on your core talent, the SME areas where you have the best chance for near-term growth.

I address these and other areas in my small contractor advisory program for 2018-2019.

There are many facets of this study I have not addressed that are equally important. I will be writing and speaking about over the next few months.

If you'd like to discuss my Small Business Advisory Program email me at mark@federaldirect.net or reserve time on my calendar:  https://calendly.com/markamtower

I'd also be interested in your take-aways after you read the study preview. What stood out for you?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Small Contractor Alert: Networking and Education July 26 at the AFCEA Small Business Innovation Summit

The upcoming July 26 AFCEA Small Business Innovation Summit follows on the heels of the AFCEA Innovation Shark Tank, where small contractors competed for the right to present at the Innovation Summit. The three winners from these events are on the agenda of the Summit.

The Small Business Innovation Summit will address cutting edge technologies where small contractors can play a big role: AI, Zero Trust Networks, Agile DevOps, Blockchain, the Space Revolution, and 5G. The presenters on these panels are among the most experienced techies from industry and government.

There will also be panels on OTAs (contracts for Research and Development) and a panel for communicating your company’s unique value. The communication panel is moderated by my friend, the wise and wonderful Sarah Djamshidi, a true veteran of the small business IT trenches. I have been invited to participate on this panel.

This Small Business Innovation Summit can help a small business identify growth areas and map out a go-to-market strategy. It affords you the opportunity to network with peers and to meet market influencers.

I look forward to each speaking engagement and try to prepare my remarks based on the expected audience.

There are many issues facing small businesses in this market and any time I get to help companies make small (or large) strategy adjustments, I feel like I am doing my part.

AFCEA conferences are my favorites, especially those focused on small business. They always have an engaged audience, eager to brain-pick, network and absorb info from some great presenters.

I will also be attending the Market Connections Federal Contractor Study overview on July 17; speaking at the Government Blockchain Association event July 19; and on August 28 I will be speaking at 930Gov, the best end-of-FY conference now in year 6!

Each of these events affords opportunities for any contractor, especially for small contractors.