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The federal market is increasingly active right now. Multiple agencies have released Requests for Information (RFI’s) in preparing for actual acquisitions. Others have projects in motion that need no approval from senior officials who may be in transition. How can you tell, though, if a specific opportunity is a good fit for your firm? No one wants to waste time and resources chasing butterflies. Here are three things your firm should consider when sizing up whether a new opportunity is worth the effort.

  1. Does the client have money to buy what you’re selling? Don’t assume that, just because an RFI has hit the streets, that there is actually money this fiscal year to fund a project. Conduct your own information gathering to make sure that there is actual money to fund something at the other end of the RFI. Agency financial offices can be a good source of this information, but so, too, can an agency’s own publicly available procurement forecasts.
  2. Are you a good fit for the agency? There are a lot of ways to look at this question. Is your firm large enough to effectively compete for a project of the size and scope that is about to be released? If not, can you partner with someone so that, together, you are large enough?

What previous experience do you have with this agency, this technology, or something that approximates one or the other? The further away your firm is from having relevant experience and a technology solution that actually fits, the less likely it is that a specific opportunity will be worth your while.

Think broadly, though. If the soon-to-be RFP is for the Navy and you have Coast Guard experience, say in your bid why you believe that’s relevant.

Another question to ask under this general heading is whether the timing is right to pursue this piece of business. You could be a good fit for the agency, with relevant positive past performance and a good tech fit. Yet, if you’re firm is over-extended on current projects, you might want to pass on the specific, current opportunity. Growth is a good thing, but only if you can sustain the type of performance and service that made you successful in the first place.

  1. Is the project new or is it a re-compete with an incumbent? This is a very key question and one worth checking on. Many companies will look only at the size of a project before making a decision on whether or not to bid. There’s more to it, though.

A very good opportunity will include features such as that it is a new piece of business and one where your technology is a good match. A medium opportunity is one where there is a good technology match, where the project is a re-compete of existing business, but the incumbent is known to have had a rocky relationship with the client. It is usually not terribly difficult to find out the latter fact. A weaker opportunity would be a re-compete of an existing project where the incumbent is performing well.

These are just some questions smart companies ask each and every time they consider whether or not to pursue a specific government opportunity. Smart firms don’t shoot first and ask questions later. Adopt these practices and you will have a more focused approach to government business and, quite likely, a higher win rate.



Larry Allen

About Larry Allen

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Larry Allen has over 20 years’ experience in government acquisition. He has provided critical information and advice to most of the top 10 federal contractors doing business with the government today. His relationships in, and knowledge of, the federal contracting arena are second to none. He is routinely sought-out by contractors, investment firms and other consultants to provide expert insight into various aspects of the federal market. This includes spending trends, market leaders, acquisition policy, and the opportunities to shape federal acquisition via coordinated government affairs campaigns. He served as a member of the Multiple Award Schedule Advisory Panel and the “Federal Contracts Report” Board of Advisors. He has testified often before committees of the US Senate, House of Representatives, and several state legislatures. He hosts his own radio show on government procurement, “Off the Shelf” on Federal News Radio in Washington, DC.

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