There is a major shift happening in the government contractor community and, for many, it is a sign that troubled waters lie ahead: senior leaders are stepping down. Contractors like Lockheed Martin, CSC and General Dynamics, among others, have announced the departure of their senior leadership.
Though as Nick Wakeman points out in a recent Federal Computer Week article, these changes are due to a number of factors, including actual retirements, shrinking defense budgets and restructuring.
Without a doubt, we are headed into a tumultuous time in the government contractor world. As was highlighted in the recent 2013 Contractor Outlook event, by Market Connections and Government Marketing Forum, it’s not all dire right now – especially for winning contractors. The study found that 62% of contractors are projecting some growth in 2013.
What made this study unique is that it also provided the ‘secret sauce’ for what it takes to be a winning contractor in this market. Check out some of these findings:
- Contractors see cyber security, cloud computing and healthcare IT as top opportunities over the next 12 months. Companies with higher win rates are more likely to see opportunities in cyber security and cloud computing.
- Contractors with higher win rates are more likely to assess opportunities early. Winning contractors identified three key activities: early opportunity assessment (91% vs. 78% for lower win rate contractors), developing a capture team (75% vs. 50%) and using color team reviews (82% vs. 58%).
- Contractors with higher win rates reported using more thought leadership marketing materials (65%) than those with lower win rates (44%) in 2011.
And, let’s not forget that success comes down to leadership. Bob Woods of the Topside Consulting Group recently penned this Op-Ed in Federal Computer Week reminding the community that leadership should be a top priority. Executives taking over the top slots at major contracting companies will have to face new challenges and guide their companies into new arenas, embrace flexibility and be creative with how they sell their services.
In addition, contractors have to deal with the LPTA issue, which is pushing agencies to request lowest price options – rather than focusing on the best solution or long-term value. Contractors interviewed for the government contractor study agreed that in the last 12-18 months government procurement staff have used LPTA acquisitions for more complex procurements. This method could ultimately stifle innovation and lessen government’s ability to meet mission goals.
As we have seen in every recession, winning companies stay focused on their core missions, and continue to focus on providing the best quality of services and products available. It is still possible to be a ‘winning’ organization in this climate. It will just require a more tenacious and targeted approach.
Be sure to check out the full 2012 Government Contractor study, which surveyed 272 federal contractor business and marketing executives on key market trends here: https://www.marketconnectionsinc.com/Reports/government-contractor-study.html