Archive for Federal Government Contractors

$1B+ Top 25 Government Contractor Enhances Contract/Program Management for Customer and Supplier Interaction

Hub-Spoke PM

This customer is a top 25 Federal Government Contractor with more than $1B in annual revenue.  They are an existing CorasWorks customer using CorasWorks in their Extranet and Intranet work environments running on Microsoft SharePoint 2010.  This is a story of how they have enhanced their Program Management environment (Contract, Programs, IDIQs, Task Orders, etc) to support managed, interactivity between their Employees and their Customers and Suppliers.  The key interactive process they are focused on is Customer Reporting, primarily CDRL deliverables.  The article will describe the design of their solution, what we call the Hub and Spoke design, which enables this managed, configurable type of “role-based” interactivity. 

Situation

They have defined and are building out a broad Integrated Program Management System (IPMS) with multiple sub-systems.  They are doing this leveraging their SharePoint environment.  They are using CorasWorks for specific sub-systems of this environment such as IDIQ Task Order Management.  They are also using CorasWorks to enhance certain custom built sub-systems such as the subject of this article.

They had a version 1 of a Program Management sub-system that is targeted to encompass more than 1,000 contracts/programs when fully rolled out.  Their objective is to be able to manage the work for each contract/program that they have as part of a unified system.  Like most SharePoint systems, with v1, they had a basic framework with a Program site at its core.  This is where the Program Manager and internal team could collaborate.  But, the v1 lacked the key capability to interact with Customers and Suppliers, particularly around CDRL deliverables. With customers, they wanted to structure the Customer Reporting (primarily CDRLs) workstream.  They also wanted customers to be able to make requests.  With Suppliers, they wanted them to provide their reports to them in a structured way which then became part of the reporting to customers.  They also wanted to be able to interact with the Suppliers.

Their key design objective was for the internal employees to be able to see and manage all of the activity, but, the Customers and the Suppliers would only be able to see, contribute, and act with information/tasks that were specifically available to them.  In addition, they needed flexible.  Effectively every contract/program is somewhat different.  So, the system had to accommodate the need to make changes at the Program level to meet the specific needs of the customer.

Solution

They leveraged CorasWorks to get to their new version 2.  For this version, they shifted the system to their Extranet environment.  This reflects the key recognition that program interactivity between Employees, Customers, and Suppliers simply has to live outside of the Intranet.   

As above, the core new process was the management of the CDRL deliverables for each Contract/Program.  The general design is as follows:

  • Each contract/program has a site – lets call it the Program hub.  This is where the internal employees work.
  • When a Program Hub is created they can auto-provision a separate Customer site and one or more Supplier sites as required.  We refer to these as Consoles.  They are effectively Spokes of the Hub. 
  • The Program Manager manages their work and interactivity with Customers and Suppliers through the Program Hub.
  • With CDRLs, they define each CDRL in the Program Hub.  Effectively, it is a task with a due date that can be tracked and managed.
  • When it is time, they prepare the reports, which might include interactivity with Suppliers.
  • The CDRL deliverable is then “published” for access by the Customer.  They are automatically notified and can go to their Customer console to view the information and interact. 

In addition to the enhancement around Customer Reporting, they enhanced a number of other features. Two key enhancement were:

  • Integration with their external ERP system to provide real-time updates to the Program Manager.
  • Task (Action Item) management for the Program members with work automation.

Results

So far, they have brought up more than 100 Contracts/Programs into the new system.  For each contract/program the CDRL process is managed as above.  Some Programs don’t have Suppliers, while others do.  The full cycle is now tracked (to insure completion of the deliverable) and documented (for auditing).

The flexibility that they wanted is achieved just by their use of CorasWorks.  This enables the Program Managers to modify the CDRLs that are delivered and to turn on and off features as required by the contract.

 

Wrap Up and Summary

This solution is a good example of how to leverage CorasWorks to enhance a system that you already have on SharePoint.  I’ll drill down into two important capabilities that make a big difference in the success of this solution.

Cross-Connect – CorasWorks has the native capability to enable you to See, Contribute, and Act across SharePoint Sites and SharePoint Site Collections.  This “cross-connect” capability enables the Hub and Spoke, interactive design that was used for this solution.  Effectively, you are creating role-based “work consoles” that only enable uses to see, contribute, and act as you determine.  This means that you DO NOT have to give these external parties direct access into a SharePoint site.

Feature Flexibility – A key benefit of their use of CorasWorks is the feature flexibility on a program by program basis.  If you have a fixed, custom built, proprietary system, then, it would either a) be very difficult to change to accommodate each customer/program (unlimited permutations) or b) be very costly to set up and maintain separate systems for each program and customer to accommodate their specific needs.  Using CorasWorks, the customer has the flexibility to add new interactive features on a program by program basis.  These features become part of the framework and may be simply turned on and off (by business users such as the Program Manager) to meet the needs of the Customer and/or Supplier.  Features enabled for one program do not affect other programs.

william

Leveraging CorasWorks to integrate Deltek GovWin CRM with SharePoint-based Capture and Proposal system

  A common scenario is to use CorasWorks to integrate work management on SharePoint with external CRM (customer relationship management) systems.  In this article I’ll review how one customer did this to integrate their Capture and Proposal Management system with Deltek GovWin CRM (a popular CRM for Federal Government Contractors).  I’ll also give an example of how you can go beyond just integration and use work automation to get more work done, more easily and more consistently.

The Situation

Our customer is a $200M Federal Contractor.  They use CorasWorks for their Intranet and many of their work management applications.  They are using Deltek GovWin CRM as their CRM.  They had created a Capture and Proposal Management system using the Lohfeld Consulting Group’s Capture Command Center solution and methodology on SharePoint 2010. So, you had CorasWorks in the middle, the Lohfeld solution running in a siloed area of SharePoint, and, the CRM system running in its silo elsewhere within the enterprise.

They wanted to eliminate the silos and make work more efficient and consistent.  They wanted one seamless work environment.

The Solution

They started by upgrading the Lohfeld solution using CorasWorks to enhance the UI and automate the work.  Viola, one seamless work environment using CorasWorks on SharePoint.  Then, they turned to the integration of the Capture and Proposal Management solution and their CRM system.

The schematic below shows how the resulting system lays out.

image

In addition to the end user work management features, the CorasWorks platform comes with robust integration middleware.  This part of the platform allows you to integrate CorasWorks-based work management solutions with just about any external system – database, web service, cloud service or app.  CorasWorks supports two-way integration.  It is also all done via configuration, without requiring custom compiled code.

In this situation, they decided to use the CorasWorks capability in a one way scenario.  Within the enhanced Lohfeld Capture Command Center they created a virtual directory of opportunities.  When users come in they see all of the opportunities organized by their capture stages.  If they are in a specific business group then they see only the opportunities for that business group.  The virtual directory information is coming from the CRM system yet surfaced within the SharePoint environment and in the context of the user.  The user can then drill down into the working proposal site or into the CRM record.

The Result

This simple solution goes a long way to eliminating the silos and seams of the system.  The benefits are as follows:

  • The users have a structured way to see the opportunities and drill down into where they need to do the work.
  • The CRM remains the “source of truth” about the opportunity data.
  • They eliminate the seams and any need for duplicate work.
  • The virtual opportunity directory is dynamically updated in real time.
  • It is context sensitive so that users will see what they should see based upon their business group.

Getting Better: Let CorasWorks Do More of the Work

Now, this is a great beginning.  But, they can do better by allowing CorasWorks to do more work for the users.  This customer uses CorasWorks Actions to automate work within Capture and Proposal.  They could extend this use to also have CorasWorks automatically update the CRM system for key changes – two way integration.

Let’s imagine that an opportunity is in the Pre-Proposal stage.  The RFP is now released and you need to do some things and move it into the Proposal Development stage.  The user would run a CorasWorks Action and it would do the following:

  • capture a few fields of information about the RFP in a single task specific form
  • update information in SharePoint
  • move the opportunity from Pre-Proposal to Proposal Development
  • update the corresponding fields in Deltek GovWin CRM
  • log the action for tracking and reporting in the work management system
  • send emails out to the Proposal Team, Capture Owner, BD Owner, and business unit manager
  • spawn a couple of pre-defined tasks to kick off the Proposal Development effort such as scheduling a Gate Review, Color Review, Kick Off Meeting, or, task to develop a Compliance Checklist

All of these activities are done by CorasWorks with just one action by the user.  Clearly it would increase the user’s productivity by eliminating work.  It also means that the user doesn’t have to leave SharePoint to go over to the CRM and do data entry.  Accordingly, it insures that all of these pre-defined important items get done – fully and correctly.  Once instructed, CorasWorks doesn’t forget what needs to be done or get distracted.  It just gets it done.

The organization gets the same seamless result as they did before, and, they also get the productivity benefits and consistency of CorasWorks work automation. 

william

Need help writing Management Section of IDIQ RFP response?

Are you writing a response to a IDIQ RFP that is a multi-award or single-award contract?  Most RFPs are incorporating the need for you to describe how you are going to manage the process and the work.  We help our IDIQ Task Order Management customers in writing the management section.  We also help our customers-in-waiting (some call them prospects).

To get help in writing up the Management Section, just send a request to info@corasworks.net.  It will get routed to our Federal Contractor team.  Typically, we’ll review the RFP language, provide you with boilerplate, and, work with you to get the right response in place including screenshots and system diagrams.

In addition to just writing it up, we are recently getting involved in demonstrations and even setting up live, evaluation environments for Federal Agency reviewers.  The Agencies are getting better at determining which vendors really have what they say they will use to manage the work.  For example, we recently had to actually bring up a live, evaluation environment of the contract work management system on the day that the proposal was submitted  (see the article Shared Contract Work Order Management System for Federal Agency and Contractor).

So, if you need an extra hand to win the business, ping us, we are here to help.

William

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See additional articles for IDIQ Task Order Management in this blog.

Visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management for product information.

Shared Contract Work Order Management System for Federal Agency and Contractor

How can we make the work on contracts more efficient and effective?  One powerful way is to enable people from the Federal Agency and the winning vendor Contractor team to work together in a shared environment to manage the work.  In this article, I’ll review a work management system that we just delivered that does just this.

The story is about how we were able to take our off-the-shelf IDIQ Task Order Management solution and rapidly apply it to meets the custom requirements of an RFP from a Federal Agency for a shared Contract Work Order Management System.  The story is partially about our solution, but, it is also about how a Federal Contractor can leverage CorasWorks (software and people) to outdo the competition, win business, and, stay close to their customer.

Situation

A civilian Federal Agency released an RFP as a small business set aside valued at about $100M over its term.  It is an outsourcing contract for IT-related Services.  The format of the contract is a single-award IDIQ with general Task Orders and specific Work Orders supporting about 30 core work areas.  The Work Orders are the primary method for getting the work done.

The new wrinkle is that the agency required, as part of the proposal, that the vendor provide a shared, collaborative, online work management system enabling the participants from the Agency to work with the participants from the Prime contractor and their team.  The system had to support the release of specific Work Orders that would come in as Agency requests, get released for estimates, get estimates, and drive the approval process.  In addition, the system had to support visibility into the work in progress including planning, tracking the work, ongoing collaboration, issue flagging, and reporting.

The big practical challenge for the Prime contractor and team was that the Agency required the vendor to have the system up and running on the date of submittal of the proposal.  It would be a live system, accessible by the Agencies review team during the proposal review phase and would then be migrated post-award.  This was a major compliance challenge that could have doubled or tripled the cost of submitting the proposal.  And, whatever system they proposed, they were going to have to live with for the duration of the contract.

Approach

A member of the Prime bidder’s team was a Top 10 Federal Contractor that is a CorasWorks customer and was familiar with our IDIQ Task Order Management solution that runs on Microsoft SharePoint.  This solution is designed for use within Federal Contractors, primarily in a multi-award situation, to manage the process of responding to task orders.  Upon review, it was decided that this solution would be the base for the required Work Order Management System.  The primary reasons were:

  • the core off-the-shelf feature set is very close to the needs of this contract work order management system
  • the configurability of CorasWorks would enable the team to deliver the required demonstration environment at a very reasonable cost and on time
  • CorasWorks is an open application environment, ie., not a proprietary code base, and thus, it be custom-configured, enhanced, and extended, by the Contractor team, to meet ongoing needs.

Solution

The solution was implemented by CorasWorks with our bidding team of the Prime Contractor and subcontractors.  We started with our off-the-shelf IDIQ Task Order Management solution running in a CorasWorks provided online environment.  We then applied it to the Agencies requirements.  This work took a couple of weeks of configuration and testing. Some key requirements for the system were:

  • The system was designed to support Federal Agency participants and Contractor participates within a common, online collaborative work environment requiring appropriate control of permissions and work action authority.
  • The system was setup up to support two workstreams (distinct stage-based processes).  One for Work Orders that cover the core contract work areas (the bulk of the work).  The other for new Task Orders that would be released to expand the scope of the contract.  Each workstream was a bit different.
  • Each workstream had to support 2 work Phases.  One was the Approval Process with the key stages of Request, Review, Estimating, and Approval.  The other was for approved work orders, Work In Progress, covering Working Planning, Work in Progress, and Closeout.
  • The system needed robust reporting to show process metrics and exception reporting across the life cycle of work.
  • Each work order or task order has its own Workspace that contains the detailed information for the item across its life-cycle and supports the collaborative activity required to drive the item forward.

Result

The system was delivered within cost and exactly on time which was objective one for compliance and is now in ongoing support mode.  The system met the compliance requirements of the Agency and included an interactive checklist to make it easy for the Agency to validate compliance.  While this system is not the core reason why the Agency will award the contract to a vendor team, it was perceived as a major reason why a team would be knocked out of the competition.

In addition, after working with the system, the Prime Contractor is now in process to procure CorasWorks for internal use and to leverage this Contract Work Order Management system to create a standard way of working on each of its major single-award contracts and for use for its IDIQ task order management.

My Comments

It is not uncommon for CorasWorks to be used to bring up collaborative work environments that bring together participants from Federal Agencies, Prime Contractors, and, contract teaming partners.  In fact, this particular agency has had experience working in similar CorasWorks-based environments for two other major contracts/programs with another Top 10 Federal Contractor (see Large Federal Contractor Drives Customer Intimacy and Value with Dedicated Program Workplaces on SharePoint).

However, this particular application of our IDIQ Task Order Management system was new.  Instead of focusing on winning the work, as in the typical multi-award IDIQ scenarios, it is all about getting the work done with visible participation of all members (Agency and Contractor).  Our existing solution provided 90% of the base system allowing the team to get where it needed to be very quickly.

I can see the use of CorasWorks for Contract Work Order Management in three scenarios.

  • One where a Federal Contractor uses it just within their organization and working with teaming partners to manage work requests on their single-award contracts.
  • Another is for a Federal Agency to manage their request processes within the Agency and the interaction with their vendors.
  • The third is an integrated, shared work environment as in this scenario.

I believe that this last scenario, the integrated work environment, is the top of the food chain in terms of driving efficiency and effectiveness of the work delivered on Federal Government contracts.  We’ve seen it before and it is proven.  However, you need an enlightened agency and a contractor that can handle the transparency to make it work.  Like any collaborative process, it takes the team some time to learn how to work together and how they work will continually evolve as they learn.

William

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See additional articles for IDIQ Task Order Management in this blog.

Visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management for product information.

Add Top-Down Capture & Proposal life-cycle management to enhance your SharePoint Proposal Environment

A great number of Federal Government Contractors use SharePoint for proposal development. Primarily, they use it to manage proposal content in individual SharePoint sites.  This works pretty well.  What is typically missing is the ability to programmatically manage the life cycle of opportunities from capture through proposal submission with a top down view.  The need for top down and full life cycle process has been trumpeted for years by consulting organizations such as Lohfeld Consulting and Shipley Associates.  In this article I’ll describe the situation and propose how you can drive value by just dropping in the CorasWorks Capture & Proposal Management Center – and keep your existing proposal sites as they are.

The Typical Situation

Very simple, SharePoint is widely adopted for proposal development.  Organizations create a site for each proposal.  These sites have proposal content in libraries.  They help users share content about proposals and manage versions.  However, the sites are siloed.  There is usually no provision for top down visibility and the ability to manage the life cycle of opportunities from capture through proposal submission. There is little support for managing and tracking key decisions and actions along the way.  Reporting out on activity, progress or comparative data is usually a manual process and one that is nearly impossible because the actions and decisions were not programmatically tracked.

Below is a schematic that depicts this typical situation.

image

The “Management Center” Solution

The solution is to add a top-down, process-oriented, management capability to your existing environment that auto-magically connects to your existing SharePoint proposal sites.   You can now easily accomplish this by dropping in the CorasWorks Capture & Proposal Management Center.  This is a single module from our Capture & Proposal Management System and possibly all that you need.  You just drop this module into your SharePoint environment.  It adds the management layer above your proposal working sites.  It gets wired up to your existing SharePoint sites and templates.  Here is what you now have:

  • A Management Center that provides top down visibility to all opportunities throughout the C&P process.
  • The ability to programmatically push opps through Stages and Gates and track the activity.
  • The ability to automate the key process steps (like Bid No bid decisions, Gate Reviews, Team Updates, Proposal Health Status, Updates for RFP release, PWIN calculations, Color Reviews) and drive notifications and approval workflow.
  • The ability to auto-magically provision new proposal sites and link them into the system – using your own standard proposal templates.
  • The ability to have a master calendar of key events like color reviews, gate reviews, due dates across all opps/proposals and the life cycle.
  • The ability to drive supporting activities for each opp and track them (like Organizations Conflict of Interest, Staffing Requests, Subcontractor SOWs, and ad hoc organizational tasks)
  • The ability to see opportunities by Stage, Customer, Practice/Capability, Events, Reviews and easily drill down into proposal working sites.
  • The ability to raise issues and get visibility (like the need for a resource or decision)
  • The ability to report on the C&P opportunities across the process life cycle and slice and dice the information just how you want it via tabular reports and pivot charts – and of course export to Excel, PDF, and Word.
  • The ability to quickly and easily change your process or top down way of working without affecting the ongoing proposal development efforts.

Easy to Get Better

The situation described above is common.  The CorasWorks Management Center module is new. It is now very easy and cost effective to add this to your environment and put these value capabilities at your fingertips – without disrupting ongoing work.

william

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See additional articles for Capture and Proposal Management in this blog.

Visit CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management for product information.

Small Business IDIQ Prime–You Won! Now What?

So, you are one of the small businesses that just won a Prime contractor position on a major IDIQ contract.  Congratulations!  It was a lot of work, worry and risk. You are now in the drivers seat with the potential for a great deal of business.  So, how do you go about translating the opportunity into revenue and profits?  And, how do you now play the game as a Prime and compete along with other leading companies in the space?  An important part will be your ability to operationalize the process of managing and responding  to Task Orders.  This article explains how CorasWorks can help you succeed.

Our IDIQ Task Order Management Solution

Recently, we introduced version 2.1 of our commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) IDIQ Task Order Management solution for Federal Government Contractors (see the launch press release CorasWorks Announces New Version of IDIQ Task Order Management Solution on SharePoint ).  Over the last year this solution has become a market leader amongst the Top 100 Federal Contractors.  It is a comprehensive solution that operationalizes the full life cycle of managing Task Orders including the important activity of engaging Teaming Partners.

With version 2.1 of this solution we have made it more flexible and able to be configured to meet the different needs of Small Business Prime contractors such as yourself.  In addition, we introduced a new pricing model that enables smaller businesses to start on an annual, per user term basis.  This makes it far more affordable for smaller organizations.

Now, with this solution, as a Small Business IDIQ Prime you can now get going quickly with an industry leading way of working that is appropriate for your business and affordable.  To learn more about the solution and features see my overview article Overview of CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management v2.1.  For more detailed product information, including case studies and webcasts with demos, visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management on our website.

And Beyond…

The CorasWorks IDIQ solution is a great place to start.  The solution runs on Microsoft SharePoint.  So, once it is in place you will have a SharePoint environment, the CorasWorks Work Management platform, and, your IDIQ solution.  You can then leverage this work environment to add additional value.

Let’s say you are using the IDIQ solution for your major Prime contract.  You can add modules to be used to manage the work that you do as a subcontractor to other Primes.  The work as a subcontractor is slightly different.  But, it is just a “flavor” of your IDIQ solution that you can create by just reusing what you now have and tweak it to the new scenario.

This leads to an important point about CorasWorks software.  Our solutions leverage our Work Management platform, first introduced in 2003 and now in version 11.  It is the market leading platform for configurable business solutions on SharePoint.  This means that it is very easy to customize your solutions and enhance and extend them.  This is done using the CorasWorks Configuration Wizards and is so easy that empowered business users are usually the ones to get it done.  This ability is important for a Small Business as it enables you to continue to make changes and innovate on your own without the cost or dependency of leaning on CorasWorks or any one else.

You can go further.  For instance, you can just layer on the COTS CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management (CnP) solution.  Since you will have already invested in SharePoint and the CorasWorks platform, you only have the incremental cost for the solution.  This solution will provide you with a way to manage the full life cycle of opportunities through the Capture and Proposal Development process.  It also includes a feature for Opportunity Management, which may be enough so that you don’t have to invest in a separate CRM solution at this time.  For more information on this solution see the overview article of CnP v2.1 and read a case study of a $30m Small Business graduate.

Of course, by design our IDIQ solution and our Capture and Proposal Management solution are integrated so that you can share elements.  Examples are shared Proposal Asset Libraries, the ability to see, contribute, and act on your work across the different solutions, and enabling Partners to engage with you on both IDIQs and RFPs.  You can also get reports and manage all of your Business Development activities across these solutions.

How about after you win a Task Order?  With CorasWorks, you can also set up Customer sites where your customers can go and access your IDIQ CDRL reports and interact with you – a common requirement of major IDIQs.  You can also spin up the COTS CorasWorks Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) solution to actually manage the delivery work on Task Orders.  This easy to use and pre-integrated solution becomes part of your integrated work environment.

CorasWorks for Small Businesses

We have been serving small businesses since our founding 10 years ago.  Small businesses represent about 1/3rd of our 1,000 customers.  A core value proposition for small businesses is that they are able to buy or build multiple applications that run within a single CorasWorks-SharePoint work environment and are natively integrated.  This reduces complexity and cost and increases your ability to control your destiny.  And, with our new solutions and pricing for Small Business Federal Contractors you can now quickly add these COTS solutions and compete at the level of other leading players in the industry.

You have a great opportunity.  We look forward to helping you reap the rewards…

william

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See additional articles for IDIQ Task Order Management in this blog.

Visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management for product information.

Overview of CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management solution v2.1

Version 2.1 of the CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management (CnP) solution for Federal Government Contractors has been released.  Over the next few weeks you’ll see articles, press releases, webcasts, and customer case studies for the solution.  This article will provide you with an overview of the solution to get you started.

Background of the Solution

Over our 10 years, we have supported many customers that have leveraged the CorasWorks Work Management platform to create custom Proposal Management solutions that run on SharePoint.  Over the last year, as we’ve built our Federal Contractor business we’ve found considerable demand for a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solution for Capture and Proposal Management running on SharePoint.  Version 2.1 delivers this COTS solution as a comprehensive, integrated, and flexible way to master the full life cycle of Capture and Proposal Management.  Its flexible design (technically and via pricing) enables it be leveraged by small and mid-sized businesses and the largest enterprises.

Overview of CnP v2.1

CnP v2.1 is a 3 module system.  It is designed to allow you to get started quickly with a COTS, comprehensive, integrated solution that can be easily customized, enhanced and extended.  The schematic below depicts the core three modules.

Modules of CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management

Capture and Proposal Management Center – this module is the center of the system.  It allows you to manage all opportunities/proposals through a structured Stage-Phase-Step life cycle.  It provides you with the top down visibility and overall management of your proposal pipeline.  Typically, customers configure this module to reflect (visually and functionally, see screenshot below) their custom Shipley/Lohfeld/APMP process model.  CorasWorks then automates the work of the users to manage the process.

Proposal Working Sites – this is where the collaborative work takes place for each opportunity/proposal from capture through post-proposal.  It is full of CorasWorks enhanced Work Management features to organize and automate the work with integration with all CnP system features, native SharePoint and external applications and systems.

Proposal Asset Library – a key part of the system is the availability of the Proposal Asset Library (PAL) to manage assets such as Past Performance, Forms, Policies, Boilerplate, Graphics, Resumes etc. Leveraging the integrated nature of this solution these resources are made available to users as they work in proposal sites.

Below is the home page of the CnP Management Center.  In this implementation, a customers’ 4 Stage, 8 Phase, 22 Step “baseline” process is depicted visually to show where everything stands.

[Click on the image to enlarge]

Capture and Proposal Managment Home - Stage-Phase-Step: Shipley-Lohfeld process

Key Features of the Solution

Below I’ll highlight key features of the CorasWorks CnP v2.1 solution.

  • Support for custom Stage-Phase-Step Process -  flexible Stage-based process management and the ability to embed the solution with your customized way of working
  • Auto-provisioning and configuration of Proposal Working Sites
  • All Documents Work Management – special display allowing users to go to one place to see and act on all documents related to a proposal across multiple libraries
  • Color Review Workspaces – special workspaces for proposal color and gate reviews supporting review and commenting
  • Master Calendaring – central master calendar of events such as color reviews across all proposals in the system, editable and accessible from within each proposal working site
  • Pinpoint Search and Fetch – ability for users to search and fetch information from Proposal Asset Libraries while working within a proposal site
  • Writer Assignment Management – automation of the assignment, notification, and management of writer tasks
  • My Work – enable users to see, contribute and act on work related to them as individuals from across the system
  • Support for Role-Based Work Consoles – ability to create work consoles where users of a certain role, such as teaming partners, can go and work with information from across the system
  • Configurable reporting – off-the-shelf you have configurable reporting in Tabular Reports with one click to print, to Excel, PDF, and Word.  You also have configurable Pivot Charting.
  • Integration of third-party CRM Systems – ability to integrate the solution with the leading CRM systems  (Deltek GovWin, Salesforce, MS CRM) and just about any other external system (ERP, HR, Custom, SAAS app)

CnP v2.1: Flexibility to Accommodate and Innovate

If you are using any of the COTS legacy proposal management solutions in the market you are constrained by their proprietary, fragile, and custom coded design.  If you are using SharePoint that is heavily customized by IT or a proprietary system, while this may mean that it could be modified, the cost, risk, and time is so high that change is constrained.  If you use native SharePoint or Alfresco or file shares, you are probably working with tools that are feature constrained, relying on manual content-driven work, siloed document libraries, siloed proposal sites and an environment where assets like proposal asset libraries are siloed.

With CorasWorks CnP v2.1, you are in a different world.  The COTS solution is feature rich but is really your base solution.  As a solution on the CorasWorks Work Management platform, it is unusually flexible and unusually easy to change – so easy that it is normally business users that customize, enhance, and even extend the solution leveraging the market leading CorasWorks Configuration Wizards.  This flexibility enables organizations to get what they want today, change things on the fly to accommodate specific work needs, and to innovate as their needs change.

A new choice

Now, with CorasWorks CnP v2.1 you have a new choice.  If you have little in the way of formal CnP tools or are using native SharePoint, you don’t have to just make do.  Our affordable pricing model allows you to move up the value stack to a COTS solution on SharePoint with a rich feature set to optimize your work and stay competitive.  Or, if you are heavily invested in a legacy, costly system you can replace them or enhance them with just what you need often at less than it costs you to maintain them.

No matter where you come from, the key is that you are not switching to a locked-in COTS system.  CorasWorks CnP is open, flexible and will allow you to decide where you want to go from here.

For more information:

 

william

Getting to a Competitive Capture and Proposal Management system on SharePoint

We just published a case study about an implementation of our new Capture and Proposal Management v2.1 solution for a $30m revenue, 200 person, Federal Government Contractor who is graduating out of small business into the free and open market.  The driver is their need to get up to a full and open competitive level.  They wanted the next generation solution (vs. legacy proposal management solutions), they wanted it their way, they didn’t want to spend a lot for it, and, they wanted control over their future.

The case study gives you the general overview of the situation, the solution and the results.  It is a great story.  I recommend that you read it before reading this article.  Here, I’ll take a different perspective and drill into the details of the implementation that made it successful.

The reason that I am writing this article is that I believe that a Capture and Proposal Management solution is one of those types of solutions that require a strong dose of mind-melding of people.  It involves process at a high level and very detailed task activities.  You don’t just install the software.  You need a good implementation methodology and the right people to be really successful.  In addition, this article will point out the importance of the flexibility of CorasWorks software when it comes to this solution – it makes a big difference to the customers long term success.

As written in the case study this was a five week implementation.  That means that it happened over 5 weeks.  However, the budget included just 5 days of CorasWorks Professional Services.  And, we stuck to the budget.  This is impressive given that this was a soup to nuts implementation including a completely new SharePoint infrastructure and migration of 300 proposals from file shares and Alfresco into the SharePoint environment along with a very custom solution and a lot of empowerment training.

Getting it Right, Getting it Done

So, how did we all manage to get a comprehensive, very customized, rather large, fully integrated, Capture and Proposal Management system, up and running with trained, empowered business users from scratch with 5 days of our services?  Here are some of the elements that made it successful.

  • In our pre-sales, we showed them different “flavors” of our Capture and Proposal Management solution implementation enabling them to narrow down their approach in advance and be familiar with how it would look and feel and what could be customized.
  • Their IT people were very efficient to spin up the infrastructure in advance based upon our best practices (this was a new SharePoint environment) and then they got out of the way
  • The Business Users drove the solution implementation.  Thus, they knew what they wanted and were motivated to get it right and done quickly.
  • The Business Users came to the kick-off meeting armed with 3 core documents: 1) their modified Shipley 22 step “baseline” Stage-Phase-Step process, 2) a comprehensive information architecture for their system (basically top down all of the features/information to be captured and its logical structure), and 3) key dashboard reports with metrics they manage by.
  • The customer made their core business team available and they were able to commit to multiple weekly sessions to get this done.
  • The project had executive visibility from day one of pre-sales.
  • We stuck to our standard Walkthrough/Workout implementation approach.  Basically, we start by implementing our base solution.  Then, we conduct 1-2 hour sessions where we walk the customer through using the system.  Then, they take control and workout the solution following a prescribed process and we note desired changes.  Many of the changes are made real time.  Then, we work it out again.  This approach moves the custom solution forward very quickly and keeps the business users fully engaged and learning.
  • They were reasonable about where they had to get to because they knew that they were also being empowered to take control, customize the solution and move it forward on their own.
  • They began formal CorasWorks “essentials” training half way through the implementation and by the end they were making the changes and doing the work with us just advising them.
  • We set up a semi-automated migration onramp system and their business users did the rest.

Of the elements above, the most significant is that the core team of business users were directly involved and driving the implementation.  Often, we find that these users are “too busy” to be directly involved.  That is a key mistake.  You need to educate them in advance about the new possibilities with CorasWorks configurable solutions if you want them engaged and want to succeed like this customer.  If they understand what they can get and how the process works, then, they will not be too busy.  It helps to do multiple 1-2 hour sessions so that they can fit the work into their schedules.

End of the Beginning

Yes, the implementation is done.  However, it is really the end of the beginning.  They had what they wanted at the end of 5 weeks.  But, a week later we had our Engagement Review/Lessons Learned session and they had already enhanced and extended the solution quite a bit further.  They are rapidly perfecting and innovating on their own as they do “workouts” with other business teams and teaming partners.  (Yes, the business users are now conducting the workouts and making changes.)  This is really the key to long term success and the value of CorasWorks as a competitive platform for them – they are empowered to innovate.  As a growing and maturing business, over the next couple of years this one solution will go through many phases.  If they had gone with some fixed, legacy, proprietary solution or a native SharePoint approach that required expensive custom IT involvement – they would be stuck.

Instead, they are empowered to compete today and get better over time.

William

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See additional articles for Capture and Proposal Management in this blog.

Visit CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management for product information.

Overview of CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management v2.1

Our newest version of the CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management solution for Federal Contractors is now available.  On April 10th, we did a webcast introducing the solution to the market.  For access to the recorded webcast, that includes about 30 minutes of demo time and the powerpoint deck used in the webcast – email info@corasworks.net.  In this article, I’ll provide an overview of the v2.1 release.

The Purpose

Simply put, the solution provides you with the means to efficiently and effectively manage Task Orders through their life cycle.  Below is a graphic showing the core stages of the life cycle supported by the solution.

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Solution and Implementation Scenario Flexibility

The solution consists of 6 modules leveraging the CorasWorks v11 Work Management platform running on SharePoint 2010.  It is designed to be flexible to meet a number of scenarios such as:

  • Corporate IDIQ/GWAC centers with many IDIQs
  • Prime, multi-award IDIQs
  • Sub contractor IDIQ Task Order Management
  • Single Award Task Orders
  • Business Units with multiple IDIQs and depth of working on Proposals and Delivering the Work
  • IDIQs with extensive partner engagement or no partners
  • Small Business with their first IDIQ as a Prime contractor

Core Features

At its core the v2.1 solution continues to support the core IDIQ work management workload with the following features:

  • Manage Portfolio of IDIQ Vehicles
  • Capture Task Orders
  • Auto-Provisioning of IDIQ Vehicles and Task Order Working Sites
  • Bid/No Bid Decisions
  • Manage Partners, Partner Surveys and Engagement
  • Business Unit Surveys and Engagement
  • Proposal development and review
  • Shared Proposal Asset Libraries (such as Past Performance, Forms and Templates, Boilerplate, and Graphics)
  • Stage-Gate Management Process and Activities
  • Task/Work Request Management
  • Shared Calendaring
  • Real time Reporting/Drill Down
  • Platform support for Integration with external CRM, ERP and HR systems
  • Highly configurable actions and workflow
  • Leverage SharePoint data, security and administration.

New Features in v2.1

This version has been extensively upgraded.  Below I highlight three key enhancements.

IDIQ Management Hub

This new module provides a single place for users to go to see, contribute, and act on work across many IDIQ vehicles and Task Orders.  From one place you can post task orders to different vehicles, see Task Orders across vehicles and their stages and drill down into the working sites, see and respond to partner and business unit expressions of interest (surveys), get reporting across vehicles that aggregates the information or that is comparative.

Below is a screenshot of this module (click to enlarge).

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Enhanced Partner Engagement Sites

In v2.1, each Partner has their own site where they do their work and engage with you.  From here they can view new Task Orders, submit their expressions of interest, and review previous EOI’s and your response.  In addition, in v2.1 we’ve added support for partners to submit “future opportunities” that you can then centrally manage.  These opportunities can be reviewed and moved into Watch Lists and eventually into the appropriate Task Order when it is released.

Below is a screenshot of the new Partner Site (click to enlarge).

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Increased Flexibility with new configuration wizard: Features Designer

All of the modules of the solution have been enhanced to make them even more flexible so that you can configure the solution to meet very specific needs.  For instance, you may want to configure vehicles and their processes to be slightly different.  Or, you may want the Proposal Working sites to be different.  Using CorasWorks configuration wizards, power users are able to make changes on the fly without affecting the overall system.  A new configuration wizard added in v2.1 is the Features Designer.  This allows power users to very easily turn on and off features of a module with a click or re-arrange their navigation with drag and drop.

Below is a screenshot of the Features Designer wizard (click to enlarge) for an IDIQ Vehicle site.  Note that the Watchlist, Pipeline, and Vehicle Library are greyed out.  To enable the feature just click the light-bulb.  You can change the names and drag and drop items to rearrange the navigation.

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With v2.1 – Comprehensive AND Flexible

If you are interested, watch the demo for the webcast mentioned above.  This will show you the comprehensive feature set of the solution out of the box.  However, it is the flexibility of this solution that really makes it work for customers.  In our implementations, we always start with our “base solution” and get the customer up and running quickly.  Yet, every customer at the end of the day is different.  It is typical for each Business Unit and often each Vehicle to need changes that allow users to optimize their work.  The unique configurability of the solution leveraging the CorasWorks wizards supports this.  Thus, with this solution you get the best blend of commercial off the shelf software that can be easily configured as if it were custom.

William

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See additional articles for IDIQ Task Order Management in this blog.

Visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management for product information.

Mastering the Core Federal Government Contractor Work-Stream

Its been almost 3 months since my last post.  No, no vacation.  Instead, I’ve been heads down supporting implementations with our Federal Government Contractors.  I’ve also been working on a suite of solutions being launched over the next few months that focus in on the core activities of Federal Contractors.  Sure, you’ve probably heard about Sequestration and Federal budget cuts.  This is putting even more pressure on our FC customers to get more efficient and effective.  So, we are helping by “productizing” solutions and pre-integrating them to increase the competitiveness of our customers.

In this article, I am going to cover the 3 activities that make up the “core work-stream” for the folks in this industry.  A work-stream is a set of “loosely coupled” activities that build on each other. They are independent activities but necessary elements to deliver the result.  Even if you are not a Federal Contractor you might find it interesting since at the heart of any industry, its participants have a set of solutions/activities that represent their core work-stream for success.  So, as you read this, think about what your core work-stream might look like.

Now, to Federal Government Contractors.  Below is a graphic depicting the core work-stream.  It consists of three activities (the ones in blue).  If you do them well, you’ll succeed; if you don’t, you hurt your chances of success.  They are different.  They are usually managed by different people.  They have different outputs.  They are managed by different metrics.  Yet, effectively, in this industry, they represent the critical path that transforms opportunities into money in the bank.

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Over the last year, we’ve worked with customers to build out each of these three activities as separate “productized” solutions that can be part of one, integrated work environment. Below I’ll list each solution as it relates to each of the three activities of the core work-stream:

CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management v2.1

This solution is used to manage the process of capturing business including the development of the proposal and the maintenance of all of the Proposal Assets that support the process.  It is a Stage-Phase-Step process that can be managed to be most effective.  This is the key first piece to get you going.

CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management v2.1

About a third of Federal Contractor business now comes through IDIQ/GWAC vehicles.  If you won a single award contract or a multi-award IDIQ, you then will want to process those task orders that come in.  With multi-award IDIQs you have to respond quickly, often with Teaming Partners, in order to really win the business.  You need to master the art of collaborative work that is fast, efficient and effective.

CorasWorks Project, Portfolio and Program Management for Delivery v3.2

So, now you have won the business.  You need to deliver on it.  This is where our PPM solution comes in.  Our solution focuses on helping the users to get the work done in a collaborative manner.  The key is the solutions flexibility which enables users to modify the solution to do very different kinds of “project” work.  Some may have tasks and classic GANTT.  While others may be just about collaboration and reporting or represent Programs of multiple activities by customers, employees, and partners.

The Core and the Supporting Activities

The core activities are the core.  You must do these well.  Surrounding these are a host of other activities that help to make you successful.  A very small list might be:

  • working with HR for recruiting
  • working with Contract Administration to get SOWs with teaming partners
  • managing an overall CMMI or ISO set of policies
  • integrating with CRM that is your database of opportunities and contact tracking
  • working with Legal
  • Partner Engagement
  • Customer Engagement
  • training
  • knowledge management and open collaboration
  • marketing activities
  • solution innovation management
  • executive and management dashboards, reporting, and drilldowns
  • integration with Financial systems/ERP

Using CorasWorks each of the above can also be added to your environment as supporting activities.  Each adds value.  However, to say it again, you need to get the core elements working properly to make money.

What Shape is Your Core In?

Most people can use some help with their core work-stream.  Many can use a lot of help.  Those that have been around for years usually have good practices, but, aging systems.  The possibilities for systems/tools have changed over even just the last 5 years.  With flexible systems such as CorasWorks on SharePoint you are able to extend and enhance existing systems or replace them quite quickly and cost effectively.  If you have the feeling that you are stuck with legacy, fixed, custom coded systems and may be missing the boat to staying competitive – then, there is a good chance that this is the reality.  If you are young and growing but need to put core work-stream systems in place, then, you can step to the front of the technology stack.  However, you will still need to go to work on learning and developing the right processes and practices.  It helps to have systems like CorasWorks’ where you can get started with a simpler approach that is also cost-effective and then change the system to adapt as your people and organization grow and learn.

No matter which situation you are in, with the competitive pressures of today and the foreseeable future, it is critical to continually make sure that your core is in good shape.

william