SEWP. Networx. ALIANT. These are just some of the competitive contracts that currently dominate, or will dominate the federal purchasing landscape. Whether you are going to be competing against 28 other companies for business through GSA’s ALIANT contract or are one of the three to five players on the Networx contracts, you will have to demonstrate not only your capabilities and technologies, but also your ability to deliver consistently on your promises. How can you do that?
All contracts of recent vintage require some formal evaluation of performance. These “check the box” methods of evaluation are fine,?? they make sure you are qualified going forward. They make sure you won’t immediately be discounted for re-compete. These evaluations, however, won’t necessarily win you work. Nor will they necessarily give you the mechanism to know if you are satisfying your customer right now (making re-compete a much smoother process).
What we have found in our work for large, services contractors is that relationship AND transactional evaluation data are essential to a long-term relationship within any contract. Sure, your sales teams have regular contact with the client. They talk with their point of contact and have spent hours (and many dollars) building a strong relationship with this person, but do you really know what the “boots on the ground” are telling your contact on a regular basis? Just like there may be things you won’t tell your best friend, there are things that your contact might not be telling you because you’ve done such a good job at building a personal relationship. Nobody likes to hurt a friend’s feelings. If you knew what the whole organization thought of your work, wouldn’t it make your relationship stronger with the agency? What happens when your contact leaves or moves to another position? Are you sure the new person won’t look elsewhere because of an issue you weren’t aware of?
If you are not in a position to implement a formal, third-party ongoing evaluation of your contracts, at least consider regular conversations or meetings with contract staff without your contact person present. Get in the trenches and talk with those who must work with your product and people on a regular basis. I’m sure the feedback will only make you stronger.