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Access to Information is Not the Issue – It’s How You’re Using It (or Not)!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Guy Timberlake
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In March 2013 I penned a Visionary Blog entry about market research that paid homage to BoB Davis’ Washington Technology op-ed ‘Never stop your market research or risk the consequences.’ Simply put, Bob talked about large systems integrators taking a lax approach to market research (when it came to existing customers) which often contributed to the subsequent loss of that business during recompete.

Besides Bob imparting wisdom, the article is great because several of his comments, in my opinion, should resonate with every government contractor. What did he say? Two that stuck with me the most are "Today, in our industry, it [market research] is usually performed on a part-time, ad hoc basis.” He then added "…most companies are looking at the same market data from the same sources.

If you’ve been around me for more than five minutes, you’ve heard me reference the Lois Horowitz quote, "Information is King” and offer my thoughts on the availability of information today versus the days of Commerce Business Daily (yesterday’s FedBizOpps), the Standard Form 129 Solicitation Mailing List Application (yesterday’s CCR/SAM) and FOIA requests submitted by U.S. Mail(yesterday’s E-FOIA). These were the available tools and resources during my first years in this business. Whatever information you did not get from your buddies, teaming partners or one of the many conferences of the day (when there was still significant representation by agencies), you were relegated to manual research without courtesy of the World Wide Web.

What’s my point today?

After nearly ten years at the helm of The American Small Business Coalition, and three years since the birth ofEthical Stalking for Government Contractors™, some key reasons I believe many companies do not leverage basic market research techniques is because most don’t understand the efficiencies that can be gained through collecting, qualifying and exploiting information to support decision-making. In some cases they simply don’t believe there are efficiencies to be gained by analyzing data, industry tips and the like. Additionally, quite a few don’t understand what information they are looking for or how to use it to further their cause once they have it.

Another factor is the general misunderstanding and non-understanding of terminology that indicates how an agency or specific contracting office solicits, competes and makes awards. For example, the chart below represents FY13 Governmentwide spending as reported to FPDS-NG (as of October 7, 2013). If you are not intimately familiar with what information is or is not reported to this system, you need to be.


Here are my questions to all who choose to participate in this informal scientific experiment. Of the nine (9) award/IDV types listed above, which of them do not represent transactions that indicate an agency establishing anindefinite delivery contract, or placing orders against indefinite delivery contracts? If this information were specific to an agency, contracting office, funding office or NAICS Code of interest to you, what would that mean to your company as far as opportunities, competition, etc.? Keep in mind this is a summary representation that can very easily be massaged to drill down to very specific information using more than three hundred points of data.

If you are drawing a blank, I invite you to drop me a line to learn about Ethical Stalking for Government Contractors™ and Information To Win™, two offerings under our industry education program The ASBCs of Government Contracting™ that will absolutely help you better understand the information you acquire from the fee-based solutions, or the free data repositories stood up by the Government. You’ll also learn where the information comes from, who is responsible to report, what is reported, what is not and when!

Again, what’s my point?

With a process to identify the information that matters to you, which means having some process in place for knowing what kind of information you need to answer the questions you have, you can sift through the many sources of information and pinpoint what you can get on your own to augment the face-to-face activities you are involved in. In fact, a simple collection and analysis process can make your marketing, business development and capture activities much more efficient!

It doesn’t matter if you pay for a subscription or tough it out and get the information your own way. What’s important is that you understand what you are looking for(and at) and why you’re looking for it and at it. Once you know that, you’ll be able to effectively get the information you need to beef up your efforts of finding and winning government contracts and subcontract.

Give me a call to find out more.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

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