In this episode Kevin and Paul discuss the balance that both industry and the Government must consider as they plan how best to meet a requirement. Industry must decide whether or not outside vendors, suppliers, or subcontractors will be needed to meet the requirements of a Government solicitation. The Government must consider whether a particular requirement can be met solely by small businesses. Open communication between Government and Industry can help find the sweet spot between building the most efficient team and meeting regulations for small business utilization.

Zone 2, 3, 4

How much communication between the Government and Industry is necessary prior to release of the RFP?   In this episode Paul and Kevin the reasons why increased communications are critical to the Government acquisition process, leading to higher quality RFPs and proposals as well as more successful source selections.

Zone 2, The Market Research Zone

How much time does an offeror need to submit a proposal? How much time is not enough? How much time is too much? What is the contractor doing with that time? As contracting officers, we didn’t know the answers to these questions (or even to ask all of them sometimes). This cast explains both sides of the proposal response time question and how to find a balance between the extremes of too little and too much time.

Zone 2 and 3

J&A (Justification and Approval) is the common term used to describe the documentation required for a contracting officer to proceed with an acquisition using other than full and open competition.  (also known as sole source contract)  In this episode Kevin and Paul discuss when J&A’s are needed, the seven exceptions to full and open competition that the FAR allows, the content of a J&A, and who approves the J&A.

Zone 2

Targeting is a critical element of winning in the federal market. Poor targeting creates many of the problems we discuss on the Contracting Officer Podcast – from miscommunication between buyer and seller, to adversarial debriefs, and yes, even to protests. Regardless of where you sit in the federal buying and selling process, it is critical that you understand the importance of target-ing.

In this cast, we explain how to identify your Ideal Target Market by stitching together into the three elements that make up your Ideal Target Market: your Reachable Market, your Target Market and your Weight Class.

Zone 2 (Market Research) and Zone 3 (RFP Zone)

The second in a 4 part series describing the Acquisition Time Zones in greater detail.  (see Episode 003 for an overview of the  Time Zones) In this episode Kevin and Paul discuss the types of market research the Government uses and what Government and Industry are doing (or should be doing) during this phase of the acquisition cycle.  As always, communication between Government and Industry is stressed to make the process faster and improve results.  (and make it easier on everyone involved!)

Zone 2 – Market Research Zone

In this cast, we provide an overview of the Request for Information (RFI), the Draft Request for Proposals (DRFP) and the Request for Proposals (RFP). Contracting Officers use all of these in different ways and at different times for a variety of acquisitions. In this cast, we provide some insights from our experience on when and how to best use these tools. We also provide industry with some understanding of when they should, and should not, reply to each. This topic straddles the Market Research Zone and RFP Zone. Since we had a lot to cover, this session ran almost 30-minutes J.

Zone:Zone 2 and Zone 3

Ever wonder why it takes, or at least feels like it takes, so long to get an RFP out sometimes? In this session, we discuss what the government team is doing while contractors wait for the RFP to come out. We talk about schedule drives, mandatory reviews and approvals, documentation time, the relationship between the complexity of the requirement and that of the acquisition plan, and others. We share some of our experiences on why we took “so long” to get things done as COs. The requirement is the “what.”

Zone:Zone 1 and 2

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The topic of “Federal government contracting” is huge.  It’s too huge, we decided, to just start creating our Contracting Officer podcast sessions(on a wide array of topics)without some sort of structure. To address this, we separate the sessions into groups to align them with the chronological phases of the government acquisition process. We call these phases theAcquisition Time Zones. These Time Zones help our listeners understand the content on each podcast session by knowing where it fits in the overall buying process.The Time Zones are, in chronological order:

The Requirements Zone

The Market Research Zone

The Request for Proposal (or “RFP”) Zone

The Source Selection Zone.

This podcast session gives a brief overview of these Time Zones. We will cover each Time Zone in more detail in future sessions as well.

Time Zone:All

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Click Here to Read This Podcast Transcription

One often-overlooked difference between the federal market and the commercial market is that federal market sales are won more by process than by relationships. Contracting Officers (COs) cannot buy based on relationships alone. Relationships matter (see FAR Parts 3 and 9), but relationships are usually not the most important factor. The relationship is 20% of the decision. The other 80% is the competitive process.

Compare this to the commercial market. Here the ratio is reversed. Our relationship with a company is often 80%, or more, of our decision to buy from them. The other factors such as price and past performance do matter, but not nearly as much as our relationship with the seller. How did you selected your doctor, your homebuilder, your banker, your car dealer, your airline, your computer, your grocery store? Was the decision to buy from a particular company driven by relationships with friends, customers, or because you bought from them before? I bet so.

Understanding this Relationship-to-Process ratio in the government market is key to winning. The relationship you build with an agency, a program manager, or even a contracting officer will only get you so far (about 20%). You win in the other 80% (the competitive process). Even on existing contracts, regardless of how good the incumbent’s relationship is with the customer, the CO must eventually re-compete it.

Both relationships and process matter. Just be sure to get your ratio correct. You will win more often by aligning your time and resource around 80% process and 20% relationships.

Time Zone:2 & 3