Nobody likes losing a new government contracting opportunity. Lots of time, effort and resources go into the contracting process and, when it does not bear fruit, contractors either want to understand why they lost or have a legitimate reason to tell the government that they made a bad call.
This is called a bid protest and it’s on the rise. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) annual bid protest report, the number of protests over the past decade has nearly doubled: 1,352 cases in 2003 and 2,475 in 2012. And the protests “with merit” increased from 209 in 2003 to 570 in 2012.
So, what is going on here? Only around 25 percent of the protests are actually legitimate, which means that the vast majority of the cases have no merit and are a waste of resources and time.
According to a recent Washington Technology blog post by Editor Nick Wakeman, bid protests pose a major dilemma for both government and contractors. “Unfortunately, about the only thing contractors can do is build the time for protests into their planning and resource management process. That’s today’s sad reality,” said Wakeman.
By arming themselves with the right actionable insights, contractors can avoid the “sad reality” of bid protests. Market Connections’ 2012 Government Contractor Study found that contractors with higher win rates were more likely to use outsourced customer satisfaction research (83%) to gauge customer satisfaction and identify brewing issues. In addition, the vast majority (96%) of contractors used some sort of research to better understand the federal marketplace.
More importantly, many contractors have used this type of research with a high degree of success. Companies like Intelsat General and L-3 STRATIS have invested in robust quality management programs that include customer satisfaction and loyalty research. They are able to identify and correct dissatisfaction early in a contract, monitor the changing attitudes of their customers throughout the lifecycle of a contract and build past performance evidence for future bids.
Customer satisfaction research is ideal for contractors facing a re-compete situation, who can arm themselves with the right insights taken directly from the government customer prior to bid.
In addition, contractors can take this concept of actionable insights to a higher level with capture research that reveals how they’re perceived in the market, key differentiators, how they compare to competitors and customer needs and requirements. For contractors trying to unseat an incumbent competitor or hold onto their own incumbency, these types of studies provide insights that will help to shape capture strategies, offerings and win themes.
Nobody likes to lose, especially during a time where every contract matters. And, it’s clear that unnecessary bid protests can sap precious time and resources for both government and contractors.
By arming themselves with the right insights, contractors can avoid the “sad reality” of bid protests and focus on winning and delivering on the mission.