In business you don’t get penalized for taking a head start. It’s just a risk. And, it is a great way to win. One new Small Business customer took the right steps to position themselves so that when the Task Orders started to flow they were immediately ahead of their competitors. Here is how they did it.
This customer is a 70 person GovCon Small Business. They had just won their first IDIQ contract as a Prime. It is an agency-specific IDIQ contract for IT services with one their key accounts. They had worked hard to form a team of 17 partners and had solid account coverage. The Task Orders were scheduled to start flowing in 4 months.
The problem was that the company was not prepared to execute. They had very little internal technology infrastructure to support a system. They had no systematic capability to manage the IDIQ contract, the Task Orders, the information, the proposal responses or the partners. They did not have any pre-defined process or policies for operating a Task Order process. And, their people were largely new to the work of managing Task Orders and Partners as an IDIQ Prime.
In sum, they had great opportunity but no execution capability. They lacked process, technology and skilled people.
However, the management team was experienced in the industry. They were second generation Federal Government Contractors and well connected. They understood the power of operating as a Prime. They knew the competitive advantage that a real automated system for managing Task Orders could give them.
So, they were committed to go from just about no execution capability to being ready to operate at full speed when the Task Orders started to flow. They simply wanted to dominate this IDIQ from the start and have a sustainable competitive advantage that would keep them ahead of their Small Business competitors.
The Solution and the Plan
They knew about R3’s IDIQ Task Order Management system before they were awarded the IDIQ. They had already made their decision because it was the only integrated off-the-shelf solution that would provide them with the complete set of capabilities to handle the full lifecycle of winning Task Orders. They needed everything and wanted it in one integrated system to optimize their competitive advantage.
How we started was important. Normally, we call it an “implementation”. But, they called it “readiness”. So, we put together a readiness plan to prepare them over the 4 months. It emphasized an iterative learning process for their team and included partners. It had 5 key parts as follows:
- Leverage R3 to bring up the required infrastructure in a private cloud using our Amazon Web Services capability
- Bring up the IDIQ Task Order Management solution out-of-the-box
- Have weekly sections to go through each key part of the process to learn the solution, come up with policies and procedures for operations, and, make changes and enhancements to both in order to improve their effectiveness. We call these sessions “Workouts”.
- Have “test” teaming partners to work with to vet the partner engagement approach.
- Run mock Task Orders through the process to train the team to operate the system and then roll it out to all partners.
The top executives and senior managers planned to be engaged in most of the weekly Workout sessions. Our iterative “light-schedule” approach using Workouts made this possible.
Preparing to Win Out of the Blocks
The short story is that they and their partners were as ready and confident as they could be when the gun went off and the Task Orders started to flow 4 months later. We’ll give you a sense of what went into the implementation/readiness because it is an example of how it can work well if you plan and are committed.
- After one week they had their private cloud running on AWS and the full R3 IDIQ solution up and running. The meant that beginning in the second week they could go hands-on and start using it.
- We began the weekly Workouts. We had three months of planned time to do it. After each weekly joint Workout sessions, their team would work out the system out on their own and provide additional feedback in the next weeks’ session.
- It was an iterative process of their team learning to use the software, coming up with how they really wanted to work, and then, R3 making configuration changes to optimize the system. Our training provided them with the baseline but every organization is different. Given the unique flexibility of the R3 IDIQ system the changes they came up with could all be made in the production environment and sometimes real time as the Workouts were happening.
- The “test” partners were engaged in about the middle of this process. The work in this phase was really about the customer figuring out their desired engagement model with partners. We enable customers to have various levels of engagement for working with partners on each Task Order. Different “levels” allow partners access to different information and the ability to do different things. In this case, the customer settled on four levels of engagement ranging from arms-length (a reader of information) to having the partner drive the Proposal from the “inside” of the system.
- The customer allowed a few weeks of lead time to roll the solution out to partners and train them on using it. This time was also used to work on the soft elements of working with partners such as pre-loading information and Past Performance and developing coverage and capture plans and commitments.
The Task Orders started to flow in 4 months as expected. They were ready. We won’t know for a while if they will win the Task Orders out of the gate. However, it is their belief that they have a competitive advantage over all of the other Small Business Primes on this IDIQ. The customer and their partners are confident at driving the business through their R3 IDIQ system. They got a great start right out of the gate. A start that won’t be matched by their competitors. And, they have positioned themselves as best they can to win over the long term.
Click here for more information about the R3 IDIQ Task Order Management system.