Why Federal Contracting is like Shrimping (My Forrest Gump Epihany) – Part 3 of 4


Sorry for the long delay getting Part 3 out. I promise I will not take so long to get to Part 4.  However, true to form, the Government got active just before the holidays so that contractors have something to do while they are out 🙂

In Part 1 and Part 2, I discussed topics related to strategic preparation.  In Part 3, I plan to show how shrimping provides a framework for more tactical issues related to Federal contracting. I could (and will) spend many pages on the topics of opportunity identification and bid development, sometimes referred to as Business Development (capital BD), Capture, and Proposal. I will only highlight the topics here. Additional development will be part of future articles and my book.

The following three pointers stem from the actual process of getting ready for the evening of shrimping, finding the best field of opportunity, and manipulating your capabilities to maximize the catch:

#7. Select and maintain your equipment. I was amazed to learn that, while the equipment is fairly simple, the options were quite broad, as shown in the picture above.  There are different types of nets, as well as multiple varieties of lights, that can be used.  Probably the most important piece of equipment is the boat you’re using. It is the foundation upon which all the other activities take place. When you have a stable boat with proper anchors to make sure you can stay in the position necessary for shrimping, you need to consider other equipment. This includes nets, lights, and the absolutely necessary 5-gallon bucket (which lets you know when you reach your legal limit). You need to maintain your equipment and check it thoroughly before you go out for your evening of shrimping. As we discovered on our trip, one of the nets had a fairly large hole, which allowed shrimp to escape.   This was not conducive to us meeting our objectives.  Federal contracting is similar in that you need a foundation, which is your corporate infrastructure and processes upon which you build your success. You also need a number of other tools, such as collaboration platforms, editing tools, research tools, and processes for evaluating what you want to chase. I will talk about these tools in articles.  However, it is important that you maintain your tools. Update them as new rules are put in place by the government, and you need to check them periodically – don’t allow them to get out of date and develop holes that let opportunities slip through.  Ask yourself: Do the procedures that you are using so many years really work in the light of the new regulations and new methods in the government?  Make sure you have the proper tools in place and train your people to use these tools properly.

#8. Locations and timing are important…. As Captain Lee pointed out, “shrimp follow the architecture”. By this, she meant that they follow the channels ledges and narrow locations in the river. To be successful, one must know the underwater landscape and find a location that lies within the preferred shrimp architecture (I really cannot believe I just wrote that phrase). Keep in mind that “shrimp are lazy” and want the to go with the current, which is strongest around the New and Full moons. These will be the best times to take advantage of a run. Finally, brown shrimp run in the winter and white shrimp in the summer (mostly). This analogy applies to Federal contracting in that you must know your customers cycles. There are no global cycles for the Federal Government anymore. That was the case in the past, but now each agency and office has its own cycle. You must be aware of where your clients post opportunities and how they like to work with contractors. Then you must position yourself with in that stream so that you can catch the contracts that are meaningful to you. Plan to the preferences and cycles of your target client agencies.

#9. … BUT setting your killing field is more important. This is where your equipment is important. What type of lights are you using and how will the shrimp react to them? If you are looking for brown shrimp, use your lights to coral them into a funnel. Florescent, Halogen, and LED lights have different characteristics – know how to use them properly. Do you place your lights low to drive the shrimp up or apart to push them to the middle? All in the strategy. You approach Federal contracting the same way. What is the best approach with your client? Are they contractor friendly or contractor adverse? Do they like frequent contact or only occasional contact? Do they become skittish when contractors approach? Are they in love with the incumbent? Do they like large contractors or prefer smaller companies? There is no single approach and you must understand the behavior of your targets. Determine the best position and set up your killing field.

I suspect you can see the pattern by now.  In the next, and final, I will address several topics related to catching your quarry and what to do once you catch them. Please stay tuned, and let me know through your comments below whether I have addressed topics of interest to you, in whether some others that you might want me to discuss.  Thank you.

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Posted on December 22, 2011, in Capture and Proposal, Communications, Contracts and Legal, General Topics, Personality, Strategic Planning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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