5 Trends Shaping the Federal Market Right Now Previous item There is No Such Thing as... Next item The Crystal Ball Isn’t...

The federal IT market today is a combination of familiar items and new priorities.  Whether you think you know the familiar, or maybe even the new, most of us need a refresher and/or a map to help navigate current realities.

Here are 5 basic things your company needs to consider as you seek federal IT business right now.

  1. Good news! No sequestration this year

While most budget-watchers were predicting this, the Office of Management and Budget has made it official.  There will be no sequestration actions for the entire 2015 government fiscal year.  This, coupled with the fact that every agency except the Department of Homeland Security has its full-year budget, brings stability to the market and enables both you and your federal customer to plan accordingly.

  1. Budgets remain tight

The reason sequestration won’t be a factor is that total agency acquisition budgets, whether for IT or something else, have gone down.  Although IT as a general category has done better than other commercial item and service areas, if the IT budget pie were a pizza it would now be a “medium” instead of a “large.”  This explains why so many government buyers are still in Low Price Technically Acceptable mode, though some may be beginning to thaw.

  1. Cyber, cloud, and mobile projects are all priorities

We could really make this a category of one – cyber – but federal agencies will also continue to make cloud investments – often coupled with a big data or mobile solution – and discrete mobile purchases as the trend toward federal real estate downsizing continues.  When selling cyber, keep in mind that DOD has primarily international security mission, while DHS typically takes the lead on domestic-related cyber matters.  Cloud has winners and losers, too, so do your homework before you talk cloud with a potential customer.

  1. IT contract vehicles matter

We actually thought that this point had already been made, but a recent article in The Washington Post quoted the CEO of a mid-size federal integrator for whom the importance of Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity IT vehicles was apparently news.  Let’s be clear:  At least half of federal IT spend is generated through IDIQ vehicles.  Make sure your company either owns, or has access to, at least three.  The Comstor/Westcon GSA Schedule is a great place to start, but knowing which vehicle your top customer purchases from is vital.  If it’s easier for your customer to buy from someone else, they likely will.  Make sure your solutions are accessible.

  1. Patience is a virtue, but so is persistence

Developing federal business can take time.  Right now, that can include lost productivity due to winter weather along the east coast, as well as concerns at DHS that their money runs out at the end of February.  Successful companies, though, make more than one, or even two, swings at a potential customer.  Can’t get a meeting or a returned e-mail?  Consider attending an industry event where your targets are speaking.  Not only will you learn what’s on their mind, you have a ready-made opportunity to introduce yourself.  That can certainly help get you a follow-up meeting.  Don’t stalk your customer, but remember that they get so many contractor meeting requests that you have to really invest in making a great impression.

Today’s federal IT market requires an “all-in” commitment from companies that want to be successful.  Make sure your company puts the time and resources into following these, and other common sense business tips.