We often hear from our #govmatesNation that it’s tough to be all things to all customers, especially in the name of following through on a contract. Luckily, we have good news. The answer to many of your challenges may be under the umbrella of teaming. It’s incredibly valuable to know what you do and do it really well when it comes to bidding, winning, and executing on government contracts. It’s even better to do it with a stellar team.
As such, we’d like to give you our five tips for teaming effectively. When we say teaming effectively, we’re talking about going beyond the coffee chats and NDAs. We’re going to get into the weeds here with what makes a good teammate and how not every business friend is a good partner.
Knowing Your Swim Lane
If you have ever been to a govmates Institute (if not, what are you waiting for?) you’ve heard us speak about the importance of knowing what you do and doing it well. You need to identify your swim lane. What are your core capabilities, not the things that you throw on to win a proposal and figure out the specifics later? What was your company built on that is the motherhood and apple pie of your business? Once you can identify and speak on these capabilities, you’ll need to find ways to stay within your swim late. Did you read that? Stay in your lane (for the most part). Pay special attention to the bright and shiny opportunities that come down the pipeline. They may look good on the outset but once you get into the specifics, the work they’re asking you to complete, and how much that may cost you in time, team members, and more – it might lose its luster.
We know, trust me we know, having a “5-year plan” for business, especially during this type of ecosystem seems like a lifetime. BUT, there’s no shortage of information regarding opportunities that may make themselves known in the near future. Using tools such as GovWin or otherwise may help you to better plan and prepare for opportunities that come down the pike. Creating teams, or at least getting an NDA in place ahead of these opportunities may help when it comes time for your red and pink teams to do their due diligence. Having one eye to the grind and one in the sky of opportunity is key for building, sustaining, and succeeding at business in this space. Your pipeline should be a growing and breathing space that is constantly churning and spitting things out to forget or build up to compete.
“Communication is a two-way street.” We’ve all heard that but putting it into practice is another ball of wax altogether. From a teaming perspective, having the coffee dates, the lunches, and the conversations early on are all well and dandy, but a strong line of communication goes well beyond that. You’ll need to periodically check in with your partners, your contacts, your frenemies, to ensure that when something big does drop in your space, you’re not trying to rekindle a business relationship while trying to gather data for a proposal. Stay in touch. Keep one another updated on your bandwidth and opportunities. Promote each other’s content, webinars, and otherwise. Be the type of partner or frenemy you’d want in the space.
The importance of past performance within the scope of proposals has grown, especially since the shift away from the lowest price technically acceptable. While not always required, it is a good practice for agencies to consider past performance to help better prepare companies to meet requirements and provide adequate solutions. We are also noticing that on the past few opportunities it has been necessary for teaming partners to have worked together, in a more significant way than previously expected. Another mark in the column for working together in a documented way, as much as possible.
Documenting teaming agreements, NDAs, past performance and so on is the govcon equivalent of “photos or it didn’t happen.” In order to show adequate proof of anything in this business, you need to have a paper trail – or at least an encrypted e-file. So, document, document, document; all of the work you’re doing with partners, potential teammates, and those in the space that may be able to provide evidence to back up your experience. Once you have it, keep it in a singular place that you’ll be able to access effectively during proposal season, or when you’re working to solidify relationships using past experience in the space.
Overall, effective teaming comes down to knowing your business and what you do well and filling the spaces with companies who compliment and add to your suite of capabilities. The best teams are those who work well together in complementary spaces but know how to give an effective go or no-go to opportunities. Our last piece of advice is, don’t wait. Do not drag your feet when it comes to creating and maintaining relationships with potential teaming partners. The worst that can happen is you find an ally in the industry, the best is dream team status.
Go forth, and partner.