8(a) Graduation

Graduating 8(a) Small Business Prepares for Growth and Open Competition

GovCon organizations graduating from the 8(a) small business program are doing so because they are successful.  However, to continue to be successful in the world of open competition requires changes to their organization and their way of working. They need to get better organized for success.

One of our recent customers was in exactly this situation. They knew that they needed to make significant changes in their approach to capture and proposal management.  Like most organizations in the 8(a) program they had succeeded through their network supported by heroic efforts of a few people on proposals.  They had little in formal processes or systems.  The work was largely done manually.  Management knew that this approach would not scale to support their anticipated growth. They were also shifting to the role as Prime contractor which was driven by new IDIQ wins. This would require a more structured approach to scale the proposal response capability and manage the Prime contractor responsibilities, including, teaming, subcontractor management and collaboration.

They did their homework, planned, and then executed.  I believe that their approach is a good model for many 8(a) companies looking to graduate.  I’ll walk through their approach and results in this article.

The Approach

They approached Lohfeld Consulting Group, a partner of R3 that provides capture and proposal consulting services. They engaged them to get recommendations on their capture and proposal approach.  Together they planned out the steps as follows:

  • Define your processes and standardize the work including your standardized “artifacts”
  • Train your people on the process and the artifacts
  • Implement a software system for the people to use to do their work
  • Use the system to learn the process and reinforce it
  • Expand the use and improve the system

One of the key reasons for adopting R3’s WinCenter solution as their core Capture and Proposal system is that it is an integrated system. It eliminates the need to buy, learn and support separate systems for opportunities/capture (such as a CRM), proposal management and knowledge management.  In fact, they had looked into buying a CRM system. It was actually less expensive to implement WinCenter than to just get the CRM system. And, since WinCenter is sold on a one time perpetual license, over time it would be significantly less expensive.

The Steps of Change

I’ll take a quick run through of the steps that they went through:

  • Process Alignment. They started with the industry standard capture process tweaked for their size and type of business. Since they all knew that they would be using R3 WinCenter, they were able to identify the forms, templates, boilerplate etc, in advance that would be used in the system.
  • Training. They then had Lohfeld train their staff on the process and the use of their now-standardized artifacts.
  • Software. Next came the software. Over the course of a couple of weeks we brought up a SharePoint environment and implemented the WinCenter system. We also did the initial training on WinCenter and loaded the initial opportunities into the system. Very quickly, they had WinCenter running and ready to be used.
  • Real world pilot. They went straight into using WinCenter for a single real capture/proposal over the course of a month. Many of our customers begin by gathering input and doing custom configuration to the system before rolling it out for real use. The logic of the approach used here is that the best way to gather requirements is through real use. For smaller organizations, this is probably the way to go.
  • Innovation. Their initial proposal went very well. They were far more efficient than before. And, they also came out of this “pilot” with changes to the system to get even better. Given the flexibility of WinCenter these were quickly implemented.
  • Rollout. Then they turned the switch to began to use the system on the next 15 opportunities.

The Result

This customer is now in a much better position to compete and scale their business. They now have a standardized capture and proposal process. They also have the WinCenter system in place that supports their process, automates the work and leverages the standardized capture and proposal artifacts. Their existing team understands the process and how to use the system. So now it is not only standardized, but it is repeatable.

They successfully ran a proposal through the process and began to manage the capture process on their opportunities. Through this “pilot” approach they have vetted the changes and built confidence in their process and their system. They have already started to innovate based upon their experience.

A key area of innovation was Capture. It was apparent that they were really just doing BD but failing to focus on, execute and track their Capture activity. WinCenter now guides them to do the right Capture work at the right time. This is helping them focus on positioning themselves to win the opportunity before the RFP even comes out.

The approach that they took has, in effect, allowed them to “build their new bicycle, while they road it.”  It is a solid way to drive change within an organization that is transforming such as when graduating from the 8(a) program.

To learn more about how WinCenter can help you improve your ability to win business, see the R3 WinCenter product page.

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