Since the mid-1990s, we have seen a boom in the use of mutli-award IDIQ type contracts. Federal agencies have used these vehicles to “pre-vet” contractors and their goods and services to streamline the acquisition of mission critical goods and services. Winning a spot on an IDIQ type contract vehicle can be a daunting process requiring months, if not years, of capture work, positioning, and investment in the required systems, certifications, and resources all while remaining cost competitive.
Once that spot is yours, the bigger challenge begins. How do you quickly realize a return on your initial investment in the vehicle while still maintaining focus on your strategic initiatives?
The industry is replete with “IDIQ-jockeys” who focus only on acquiring vehicles then watching bid boards only to scramble over and over again to find the right solution, teaming partners, and a way forward once a Task Order request has dropped. Most of us are in the category of having a core set of capabilities and we want our focus to remain on the defined strategic growth path. These two mentalities are clearly very different, and produce different results.
The difference between the two is built into the core mentality of the shop itself. Let’s start with the “bid-anything” approach. The mentality of the “bid-anything” shop is just that, they stand at the ready to bid any task order released on their vehicles. The pace is frantic, the win rate low, but the sheer volume of responses drives growth. This model can drive growth on your contract vehicles, but it has its downsides that include:
- A high rate of staff burn out and turnover. The frantic pace of responding to every (or even most) task orders on a moderately busy vehicle can put a significant strain on your BD, Capture, and Proposal shops. Keeping that pace with a low win rate is demoralizing, and everything being an urgent emergency can lead to apathy.
- Lack of focus on strategic, dynamic growth. If your core competency and strategic vision include anything other than winning and responding to all the resultant task orders, then the “bid-anything” mentality will take your BD, Capture, and Proposal teams’ focus away from the long-term initiatives they are working to quickly respond to the task order that’s out now.
- Low-Profitability. I think we can all agree that while the bid-anything mentality ultimately result in wins that look like growth; it is difficult to maximize the profitability of a win without fully understanding the customer’s needs, drivers, your competition and the hundreds of other factors that good Capture managers around the beltway consider every day. The best way to win, in the “bid-anything” shop, is to race to the bottom. Cutting services to their bare-bones, minimum required state and cutting margins as much as humanly possible. This results in low-profitability, and potential headaches for you and your customer throughout delivery.
Conversely, the traditional Business Development, Capture, Proposal shop set-up is often less than optimal for a task order driven environment. The rapid nature of task order responses confounds traditional processes and workflows, but a lack of process causes a chaos that isn’t much better. A traditional BD shop works based on defined processes, with quality gates, and handoffs that are generally built toward a more traditional full and open competition response style. This model has the rigor and discipline to only respond to task orders that fit the long-term growth strategy of a company, but lacks the agility to quickly change direction and “get a bid out the door” major draw-backs often include:
- Cumbersome Process. The process even just to authorize B&P spend often drives a “no-bid” decision on what would have been the perfect task order for you. Gate reviews built for long-turn full and open deals slow the progress of a task order response to a snail’s pace, causing either the need for “proposal heroics” or a no-bid.
- Overburdened Staff. Because the traditional shop is built on a long-response-time approach with rigorous steps, 5-10 days to respond to a task order request is frantic and unorganized. A pop-up bid overwhelms even the best and highly skilled team that is accustomed to taking more time to analyze the requirements—creating a high level of frustration and emotional drain which ultimately takes their focus away from strategic initiatives.
- High cost-of-ownership. Maintaining the appropriate number of resources to keep up with the pace of task order work in a traditional BD shop is expensive. Without it burn-out and turn-over become a legitimate concern.
With that in mind, how do you maximize the investment you’ve made in your contract vehicles while avoiding those pitfalls and maintaining your strategic focus? The answer may be rather simple. What if, instead of the choice being one or the other; bid-anything or a traditional model—what if there was a third option? That third option would act as a “force multiplier” for your internal BD group, without acting as a “cost-multiplier”. The ideal solution would augment and compliment your internal capabilities while mitigating the risks discussed above. This is a question TWRG was challenged to answer, therefore we designed our Rapid Response as a Service model.
Rapid Response as a Service (or RRaaS) is a low-cost sales force multiplier designed to manage and maximize your contract vehicle. RRaaS is more than templates and staff augmentation, but a framework built for performance. RRaaS meets the challenge of Rapid Response with repeatable process, tested technology, and Rapid Response specialists, allowing your internal team to focus on strategic growth, while still maximizing your bids on your current vehicles. As an out-of-the-box PMO and Capture Management shop for your vehicle at a fixed rate, RRaaS controls B&P spend and human capital investment, a necessity to remaining competitive in today’s environment. RRaaS provides our clients with a cost-predictable, consistent support team coupled with task order capture management. When it comes time to respond, RRaaS has the flexibility to “turn over” the deal to your internal team (should they be available) to execute our streamlined, task order focused proposal process; or provide a proposal team of our own on a discounted Labor Hour basis. The ultimate goal being that, with RRaaS maximizing contract vehicle performance, your internal team is free to pursue strategic goals without being pulled in to every new task order that drops.
About TWRG: The War Room Group (TWRG) is a catalyst for success in the Federal Marketplace. We help our clients stand out from the crowd and get noticed in one of the most competitive environments in the world.
In the War Room, you will find everything you need to:
- Develop effective and actionable growth plans with TWRG’s Strategic Consulting
- Identify, capture, propose, and win new business while managing costs with TWRG’s Managed Services
- Make your company stand apart from the rest with TWRG’s Marketplace Readiness programs