“Strive not to be a success, but to be of value.”
– Albert Einstein
The following vignettes demonstrate how we have provided Value to our clients… they are organized by our service offerings.
Strategizing – Developing and Launching a Successful Turn-Around Strategy
For a small defense oriented manufacturing firm, a CV Partner led a two day strategy session to revise the Company’s approach to serving the government market. The Company was a family owned business focusing on a two unrelated and narrow product lines, running operations out of multiple facilities located in a HUBZone and had been a long-standing recipient of congressional and socio-economic set-asides. The Company was facing a declining defense budget in its market niche and the potential loss of its HUBZone certification because of SBA redefining HUBZone criteria. Moreover, the Company had been competing on a cost-based reengineering approach and had little-to-no knowledge or affinity with its government customers.
During the strategy session, the CV led team reviewed the Company’s financial status, toured its facilities, identified its capabilities and interviewed the Company’s leadership to determine their long-term aspirations. The strategy team ultimately provided the Company with a detailed assessment of the situation and provided a blue-print outlining several strategic and tactical steps the Company should undertake to establish itself as a key defense supplier without relying on set-asides and other socio-economic program advantages.
The Company accepted and implemented CV’s proposed strategy, consolidated its activities into a single facility, hired a new (and seasoned) director of business development and began direct outreach to government program offices to become known as a responsible manufacturer in several new product areas taking advantage of its organic manufacturing and engineering capabilities. The Company has divested itself of reliance on set-asides and other socioeconomic programs for revenue.
The CV partner also connected the Company with a government program office seeking a product that the Company was well equipped to produce but was otherwise unaware of the opportunity. The Company was ultimately awarded a contract to produce this product.
Strategizing – Tripling Revenue
A Government Contractor had provided engineering services to a well-funded military program for years when the agency’s mission abruptly changed and funding began to diminish. Annual revenue quickly fell from over $19 M to just under $17M and was forecast to continue decline at an increasing rate. The owner surprisingly interrupted an operation management meeting, being chaired by the new COO (now a CV Partner) and announced that this group was immediately responsible, and would be held accountable, for tripling revenue in four years. At the completion of this statement, he left the room.
The COO and the business unit managers developed a strategy that included diversification into a new Government program market, leveraging existing connections and reputation with the key decision makers of the declining market, reducing top heavy payroll and recruiting new capabilities, new and expanded methods for tracking total operational performance, and implementing a disciplined business development system. Three and a half years later, they achieved annual revenues of over $54M, exceeding the owner’s mandate.
Marketing – Individual Contact, Not Mass Marketing, Wins Government Contracts
A Government Contractor’s CEO had just started in his position and was in the process of assessing his Company, its finances, products, quality approach, personnel, facilities and his customers. He saw his first priority was to lead a transformation of this Company to a stronger customer demand for its products. During this initial phase, the CEO had become aware that there were some customer perceptions of his Company that reflected back to a period several years prior when the Company was under different management and had missed both quality and delivery requirements. He wanted to reach out to present government customers to show how his Company was transforming itself into a manufacturer of consistently high quality products always on-time and at prices stated in its contracts. He then wanted to extend his outreach to other potential future customers.
A CV Partner working with the CEO recommended a marketing plan to engage with government officials at the CEO’s level, i.e. senior program managers and users of the Company’s products being delivered existing contracts. CV stressed the importance of the CEO engaging personally with these officials to demonstrate that their relationship with the Government client was a high priority and the CEO was leading this effort.
The CV Partner developed a prioritized list of the key officials to meet, i.e. those who would need to know this CEO, what he was doing and how this Company was changing. CV Partners explained the types of influence these senior officials would have in how the Company was evaluated both on current and future contracts. The CV Partner worked with the CEO and developed an outline of specific insights about the senior program and user officials, their concerns, their major challenges, the root causes of their perceptions and those people who would report and have key input to these official’s opinions. CV Partners helped develop the CEO’s presentation and then worked with him to schedule meetings.
This effort resulted in the CEO getting feedback from these officials that helped him understand why his customers viewed his Company the way they did. He stated he gained a real understanding of the background for the perceptions and as well, learned the customer’s challenges. He was then was able to continually strengthen his outreach approach and communicate to his workforce what the customer required more effectively. Ultimately, he saw his efforts result in the establishment of strong working relationships with his senior government counterparts that had not existed previously.
Prospecting – Creating an Opportunity Pipeline to Diversify and Grow Revenue
For a small government research and development Company, a ClientView (CV) Partner identified a government program opportunity outside the Company’s traditional market niche and eventually led the Company to a partnership resulting in a development/production contract award equaling the Company’s typical annual revenue. The Company had a background in electro-mechanical systems technology research into discrete technology areas; but had typically avoided programs involving integrated technology development and production. This led to a large number of SBIR awards but no sustaining long-term programs.
By focusing on government programs seeking completely integrated systems rather than discrete technology development, the CV Partner identified multiple system development opportunities that took advantage of the Company’s combined skills in product development, engineering and technology development. The CV Partner then led the Company on searches for prospective manufacturing partners to present a compelling case for pursuing several of these opportunities. With a partnership in place, the CV Partner was able to focus on a small number of qualified leads, pursue positioning activities and eventually win a multi-year IDIQ contract to develop, test and deliver an aviation ground support system.
Positioning – Snatching a Win from the Grasp of a Loss
A manufacturing Company holding a large multi-year military equipment contract had a record of performance issues that had resulted in a decision by the Government program managers to re-compete the contract before the scheduled end of the period of performance. At industry conferences, the Government program managers spoke openly about their objective of replacing the Company and engaging a new firm for the on-going program.
The Company had implemented a number of steps including bringing in new management, significantly improving product quality and consistently meeting or achieving production schedule requirements. However, the meetings between the Government’s program management team and the Company continued to be difficult, acrimonious and of little value to both parties. When the Government released the synopsis for the re-compete procurement, the Company retained a CV partner to guide the proposal. As the work for ongoing production and the proposal progressed, the relationship between the Program Managers and the Company declined. It became very clear to the Company’s senior management that they would lose the contract and they asked the Consultant to offer a suggestion for a course of action.
The Consultant proposed a tactical program for using a modified Myer-Briggs Type Indicator personality inventory method to analyze the meeting participants of both the Company and the Government. When implemented, the analysis identified an array of behaviors and responses to challenges that the Company’s meeting participants were likely to use and how those specific behaviors would be perceived by the Government’s participants. Discussions with the Company participants confirm that not only were these behaviors very likely, they felt these were the appropriate and correct behaviors for the situation. The analysis of the Government’s participants, which was performed indirectly and without their involvement or knowledge, indicated that the Program Manager would react very negatively to the behaviors of the Company’s representative. Using the analysis, the Consultant outlined a program of different behaviors the Company participants could adopt in the meetings that were likely to result in a more positive perception by the Program Manager.
The immediate results of this approach, combined with other steps to improve customer relations, were dramatic. Within a month, the Program Manager was praising the Company and becoming an advocate for the Company. The most tangible result was the award of the new multi-year contract at a value of well over $2 billion.
Positioning – Deep Understanding of the Government’s Objectives
A small start-up Company with an innovative electronic technology that performs better than the predecessor is smaller and lighter and costs less to manufacture. What’s not to like?
After winning its first few small business contracts, the Company started losing every subsequent proposal it submitted. Losing traction in the government market, this Company asked CV to help get it back on the winning path.
The Company was considering submitting a White Paper for a competitive defense wide Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) program. Historically the chances of a White Paper leading to an invitation to submit a full proposal are less that 6%: Not encouraging for a Company who had no contacts in the program.
The Company asked CV to help develop and implement a strategy to improve its position. CV Partners interviewed the Company’s key personnel to understand the technology and its basis for submission under the BAA. They established a contact plan with the DoD program office to seek out, contact and generate intelligence helpful to the Company and get a sense of whether the Company’s electronic component is the sort of technology beneficial to the Government and to learn about any particular issues that are of high value to the government.
CV made contact with three key DoD program managers as part of this positioning strategy. In the process CV learned an important and relevant fact for this BAA – the key aspect is attaining accelerated fielding of innovative technologies. For the Company, whose technology is currently at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3, it was essential to show a credible plan for development and testing that ends in TRL 6, a requirement for the RIF program. CV helped the client layout a specific plan for managing risk and developing the Company’s technology to TRL 6.
The Company submitted the White Paper and was invited to submit a full proposal. Now, based on the record of the BAA, the chances of winning a contract are better than 50%. Without the proper positioning the Company would not have a chance to win this contract.
Proposing – The Difference Between Writing a Proposal and Writing a Winning Proposal
Incumbency is not a silver bullet. A global IT industry giant realized that even though their work on a preceding 20-year contract was consistently rated “above average,” they would be challenged fiercely by competitors bidding a new $100M contract with significant add-on tasks. The RFP required a multi-volume, nearly 1,000-page proposal and included strict compliance requirements, but little guidance on how proposals would be scored and firms shortlisted.
A CV Partner was added to the team with about five weeks left in a three-month proposal preparation window. As discriminators and win themes had yet to be thoroughly fleshed out, first drafts had yet to be written, and Volume leads yet to be identified, the Consultant guided brainstorming sessions to result in workable material and took the lead as Book Boss / Lead Writer for three main proposal sections (15-page Executive Summary, 100-page Past Performance Volume, and 250+-page Proposed Software section), wrote the cover letter, and served as reviewer / editor on other sections of the Technical Solution Volume. Based on the CV Partner’s input, new graphics, including a “win theme icon,” were created to complement text; proof points were developed to substantiate claims and strengthen the Company’s value proposition and discriminators, and complex technical material was translated into easy-to-grasp, practical, implementable solutions that provided the Government clear benefits. The proposal scored the required 85 points to propel the Company into the Presentation / Interview / BAFO round.
Performing – Future Revenue Growth Requires Exceptional Performance Today
Some firms assume that their customers will provide timely and effective evaluations of their performance under a contract. This assumption is often very wrong.
The management section of the proposal for a large, five-year, $100 million project defined an Officer-In-Charge and a Project Manager as the firm’s top level management structure for the contract. This arrangement was deliberately created for the proposal by the Project Manager (a CV partner) to drive the performance evaluations that would become the documentation of the firm’s Past Performance in future proposals. The scope of responsibilities and the levels of authority of each of these positions established a clear and highly responsive system for the resolution of issues within the contract parameters and for those issues beyond the contract scope, schedule and budget. It also set up a procedure for periodic top-level evaluation of project performance, the identification of performance issues and a rapid resolution procedure to insure the full satisfaction of the customer.
This structure and project management system resulted in a documented record of the customers’ evaluations of “Exceptional Performance” and the contributed very significantly to successful proposals winning more than $1 billion in additional contracts during the initial period of performance.