Tag Archive for Business Development

Top 7 Enhancements for Capture and Proposal Management on SharePoint

SharePoint is broadly adopted by the Federal Government Contractor community for use in proposal development activities.  Leading organizations are leveraging CorasWorks to enhance and extend their existing capabilities to drive towards more efficient, effective and comprehensive capture and proposal management systems. In this article, I’ll walk through the top 7 enhancements that are most common amongst our customers and describe how they are leveraging the COTS software/flexible customization approach of CorasWorks on SharePoint.

Basic SharePoint Proposal Development

While SharePoint is broadly used, the level of use is typically rather basic and based upon document management features for just proposal development as opposed to a structured Capture process or as part of an integrated Proposal Management system.  For many, their approach is to use siloed SharePoint sites for managing documents within folders of SharePoint.  This approach is familiar to many long-time players as they have grown up this file/folder way of working.  It is a fine place to start (and we continue to support it), but, increased competition is driving organizations to raise their game to a new level.  They are leveraging us to be more efficient, to increase visibility and accountability, to cut out the noise of random and conflicting activities, to increase consistency and reduce risk, and overall, to increase the effectiveness of their investments.

Top 7 Enhancements for Capture and Proposal Management

In the following sections, I’ll briefly review each of the top 7 enhancements. While these are most common, they are not necessarily the ones applied by every organization nor are they the only enhancements we are delivering. The key here is the flexibility of CorasWorks to be used to drive you forward where and how you need it.  This flexibility includes support for standard approaches from consulting organizations such as capture processes by Lohfeld Consulting and color review stages by Shipley Associates, the ability to integrate with external CRM, HR, and ERP systems, and, the ability to accommodate the custom processes of each customer or even the differences between different groups within an organization.  Because most organizations have some basic SharePoint system in place, our approach is to enhance and extend rather that rip and replace with a completely new way of working.  On to the 7…

1. Capture & Proposal Process Management (PM)

As above, in most cases when we start, each proposal has been a single, siloed site.  Most organizations lack the top down process management capability that allows them to have a strong Capture process on the front end of proposal development and follow through to close out.  Thus, we usually start with an overall top level C&P Process Management site.  We set the stages and activities based upon the customers proprietary C&P process or leveraging the process of Lohfeld or another consulting organization.  This top level site captures all opportunities that have qualified for the C&P process as early as the Pursuit stage.  Along the way uses our auto-provisioning kicks off the Working Site where users manage information, activities and collaborate.  This provides you with the top down visibility and the ability to manage the pipeline of opportunities/RFPs across their life-cycle.  In addition, it provides you with the ability to automate the various activities that you want to happen at each stage.

Below is a screenshot that shows the various stages for a Lohfeld-style C&P process.  In addition, it shows a set of actions that have been made available at the Pre-Proposal stage.

(Click image for full screen view)



2. Cross-folder/Library Document Visibility & Task Automation

Okay, so now we turn to a Working Site.  This is where the detailed information is stored and the activity is managed.  Our standard is to start off by supporting the classic native SharePoint approach of folders and documents (the Documents tab).  The next level is to move customers up to more robust document management by providing increased visibility and task automation.

Below is a screenshot of our cross-folder, cross-library document management view.  Users are able to see what documents are available across folders and sub-folders and different libraries – instead of having to hunt and peck.  In addition, they are able to select multiple documents (again across folders/libraries as shown below) and use an action to automatically perform a task.  Managers are able to choose actions that they want to be available and modify the actions to tweak their processes or to create their own as needed.  The result is a much more convenient and efficient way of working.

(Click image for full screen view)



3. Master Knowledge Repositories and Fetch

C&P operations typically maintains shared knowledge such as Past Performance information, Policies, and standard Forms.  At best, these are usually siloed document libraries in SharePoint sites.  Many people are used to manually uploading these documents from their local drives into a proposal site.  A better way available with CorasWorks is to maintain centrally managed knowledge repositories that are interactively leveraged from where the users are working.  They can be centrally managed with structured approval processes.  Within each Working Site, users can access these repositories, search and filter, and then, they can “fetch” the information pulling a “hot” copy from the repository into the working site.  This drives greater efficiency and consistency.

4. Core and External Supporting Activities

Proposals don’t only include content (documents).  They also include activity – tasks that people need to perform to support the capture and proposal processes – often people outside of the core proposal team.  Within a working site you can spawn tasks of all sorts and drive the activity that needs to get done.  They can be standard core tasks such as assigning writer tasks or setting color reviews dates or kicking off a document review and comment cycle.  Or, they may be ad hoc tasks such as making requests for Vendor Reviews, Feasibility Studies, Conflict of Interest checks or Legal reviews. You can also create programmatic supporting activities when their frequency or importance is warranted.  For instance, you may create a permanent supporting activities with HR Recruiting so that each staffing request is funneled into their queue and then managed through a structure process.  All of these types of supporting activities can be accommodated and automated with CorasWorks to get people and teams to work more productively together.

5. Distributed Work Consoles

Using native SharePoint users have to do a lot of navigating to working proposal sites to see what work needs to get done and to do work.  With CorasWorks Work Consoles you can instead put the work right at the fingertips of users.  For instance, you can have a teaming partner or proposal vendor site where those people go to see and act on the things that they need to do.  With Work Consoles you can separately control what they see and what they can do without giving them full access to a working site.  These work consoles can be located anywhere across your SharePoint environment to optimize convenience.

6. Cross-Application/System Integration

Again, with CorasWorks your proposal sites are not siloed.  You can inter-connect any parts of your Capture and Proposal Management system with CRM systems such as Salesforce and Deltek CRM, HR systems such as Peoplesoft and Taleo, ERPs, contract management systems, custom external systems, and, any other SharePoint based systems such as CorasWorks IDIQ systems or other team sites or processes.  This is done through our advanced configuration and thus does not required custom code development and the associated cost and risk.

7. Cross-System Dashboards

Using CorasWorks you can create advanced dashboards that provide users with the charts, tabular reports, or interactive displays they want with information across the life-cycle.  The possibilities range from simple wizard driven reports and charts to customized user experiences using our advanced multi-tier framework.  The information can include information in SharePoint and/or any external information such as the systems referenced above (#6).  These dashboards can be interactive supporting drill-downs, pop-ups and dynamic query.  The result is increased visibility, accountability, and real time activity.

The Common Thread of CorasWorks C&P Enhancements

The primary thread across the above enhancements is the ability to go from a perspective of single proposal sites to a broader, more integrated, more automated capture and proposal management system.  It is a distributed system.  The system supports many proposals and each proposal is optimized to support the results of the system.

The key to our approach is that you can get to where you want to be in different ways and at the right time.  Each organization is different. While we provide you with the COTS software to enable you to enhance and extend your system at lower costs and risks we also provide you with the flexibility to customize the system to meet your needs today and evolve it as your needs change in the future.



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

Visit CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management for product information.

CorasWorks Solutions for Multi-Award IDIQ Prime Contractors

CorasWorks has an extensive customer base of Federal Government Contractors (see Federal Contractor micro-site on our web site).  We are used by them for internal operations, and, as part of their application delivery practices for solutions on SharePoint.  Recently, we’ve spent a lot of time working with the business development function of these customers to enhance their internal capabilities to win business.  Top of mind in BD these days is the ability to manage multi-award IDIQs as a Prime Contractor. Some are new to being a Prime Contractor, others have legacy systems that need enhancement or replacement to be competitive, and others, while not new to IDIQ prime contracts, are just beginning to move from Excel/Email chaos to an automated system.

We have provided solutions on SharePoint for IDIQ/GWAC BD since 2006 (see Case Study of IDIQ Center customer).  Over the years, the use of these vehicles has grown tremendously and the competition has increased.  With our new focus on solving this problem, we are raising the game and providing standardized yet flexible solutions that drive each customers’ competitive differentiation.

In this article I’ll drill down into the types of solutions we are delivering to address the needs of IDIQ Prime Contractors.  Our approach to this solution area is flexibility.  The “correct” solution simply varies. It depends on your experience, existing systems, success or failure to date, and also, on the fact that each IDIQ is different.  With that said, we have a standardized, modular, solution set that enables us to accommodate the different needs, but, do so in a standardized, cost efficient manner.

Solutions to Meet Different IDIQ Scenarios

We have seen 4 primary scenarios with Prime Contractors of Multi-Award IDIQs (and GWACs).  Accordingly, we have a standard “solution set” to address them.  Like any CorasWorks solution, each is very flexible and tailored to the needs of the scenario.  The scenarios and solutions are as follows:

  • IDIQ Task Order Management (TOM – Simple) – This is the core part of IDIQ/Task Order Management.  It is simple, extendable, but, very rich in its ability to automate activity and process around each task order and working with partners.  This is for organizations that are new to IDIQs as a first step towards automation.  It is also used for individual IDIQs that are new, not a high volume, or, not yet driving enough business to warrant “deeper” systems.
  • IDIQ PM (Deep – Single IDIQ) – This solution targets those Program Managers that are managing individual IDIQs at a “deep” level.  Typically, this is situation where you don’t want any Task Order opportunities to fall through the cracks.  They want a complete, integrated system where they manage the task orders, the proposal development, the partners, the knowledge such as past performance, and, all else.
  • IDIQ Center (Breadth – Multiple IDIQs/GWACs) – This solution is for those organizations that want to manage multiple-IDIQs/GWACs that are high-volume.  It is typically a replacement for or a new IDIQ/GWAC center where the work does not involve managing the responses but does require the overall reporting.
  • IDIQ Integrated (Breadth and Depth) – This is typically a distributed system where you support both breadth and depth scenarios together.  They are typically separate, but they work in concert, and, allow each group (IDIQ Center Management and specific IDIQ PM) to optimize their work.


Solution Modules

We deliver our solutions for IDIQ management on SharePoint.  Thus, by design they are distributed systems with many sites – each serving their purpose and supporting a principal user role.  The secret sauce with CorasWorks is the ability to tie all of the elements into an integrated system that allows users to work from one place with the information they need at their fingertips.  Our design works very well to balance the need for IDIQ specific depth with the desire to see a full picture of the activity across all IDIQs (and for all BD work).

Accordingly, we provide a set of modules that can be implemented as needed.  Each has its purpose.  Each can be easily modified or enhanced as needed.  This is cost-effective and gives you the flexibility to innovate as your need it.  The following table list each of the standard modules and the scenarios where they are most commonly used.

IDIQ Module Matrix -126

Click image to enlarge.

Below is a brief description of each module:

  • IDIQ Program Management – For the management of a specific IDIQ vehicle and its Task Orders.  This uses a stage-gate process through which each Task Order passes.  This module drives notifications, activities, and workflow such as Bid/No Bid decisions and Partner Surveys.  Click here to see a screenshot with a brief example in an article I wrote about stage-gate processes.  In addition, it supports the overall management of the IDIQ vehicle including partners, knowledge repositories, reporting and administration.
  • Task Order Site(s) – At a point in the Task Order life-cycle, these sites are auto-provisioned to contain the core Task Order request documents and support collaboration.  Usually, they are not highly structured. They are integrated with the Program Management site.
  • Combo Task Order/Proposal Development Site(s) – In lieu of the above, for depth scenarios the sites provisioned are designed with structure to support a much more evolved proposal development process incorporating task management, color reviews, supporting business processes and access to knowledge repositories.
  • Partner Portal – This is the main portal accesses by partners to respond to task order surveys, post opportunities, and/or participate in proposal development.
  • Partner Site(s) – In depth scenarios, teaming partners will often have their own “private” sites so that they can be deeply engaged in proposal development, opportunity management, and supporting activities.
  • Knowledge Repositories (Shared) –Most systems have a number of shared repositories such as Past Performance, specific IDIQ forms, policies, and information, and overall BD forms, policies and information.  CorasWorks enables users to access and “fetch” these repositories while working in each Task Order/Proposal Development site.
  • IDIQ Portfolio Management – This provides customizable overall reporting and analytics in a dashboard style with the ability  to drill down as needed.
  • Public Web Site Integration – This allows you to dynamically update web sites (SharePoint based or note) while maintaining the information within the system.
  • Customer Portal(s) – You can have a portal for each customer of an IDIQ where the information/reports are made available to them from across the environment and/that enables the customer to interact.
  • Supporting Process Modules – CorasWorks has a robust notification/workflow/process framework enabling you to drive supporting processes from any of the modules.  Examples are Bid and Proposal Budget Requests, HR Staffing Requests and Salary Approvals, Organizational Conflict of Interest Checking, and, At Risk Authorizations.  As part of this feature we often deploy new sites for different business functions to consolidate and manage requests.  An example would be an HR Site where staffing requests come in from multiple task orders across multiple IDIQs.
  • CRM-ERP-HR Integration – CorasWorks has a robust two-way integration framework.  Most commonly we integrate with CRM systems such as Deltek GovWin CRM, Salesforce.com, Oracle Siebel, Microsoft CRM.  We also integrate with HR systems such as Taleo and Peoplesoft and ERPs such as SAP and Deltek CostPoint.

Getting You Your Solution

It just depends on who you are and what you need.  With CorasWorks your organization could use all of the above 4 scenarios over time.  Our uniquely flexible approach allows us to accommodate your needs as they appear..  We have a single Solution Platform (now in v11) that runs on SharePoint.  Then, you just add the solutions you need and custom tailor them.  It all runs on top of SharePoint.

For instance, you might have 4 different program managers that want to take slightly different approaches or are forced to based upon unique IDIQ requirements or their partnering requirements.  This can be accommodated using the same software (and effectively sharing costs).  Or, from the beginning you can design things so that management can get an overall picture of activity – alternatively, this integrated portfolio dashboard can be added later.  Or, you may even realize that while you are at it, it would be very useful to build out an entire new centralized Proposal Center using CorasWorks (see case study), and, get an overall view of all BD Operations’ activity.  No problem.  The key is that CorasWorks is designed to enable your system to evolve as needed.

It all starts with us understanding where you are and where you want to go.  We have a standard discovery process to help you ask the right questions.  We also have various demonstrations of different approaches.  I look forward to hearing from you.



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

Visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management for product information.

Full Service Proposal Center of Federal Contractor Driving $250 Million a Year in New Business

Many SharePoint users make use of team sites to manage individual proposals – primarily leveraging basic document management.  Most don’t get much further.  This leaves a vast untapped potential for driving Business Development results and efficiency waiting to be exploited.  Using CorasWorks, leading companies are making it happen…

One of our customers is a billion dollar plus Federal Government Contractor.  A few years ago they acquired a company that came with a proposal management system built with CorasWorks on SharePoint.  They adopted it and have since enhanced and extended the system to serve as a full service Proposal Center supporting 400 proposal projects per year, in a 24/7 operation, that drives $250m/year in new business.  In this article, I’ll provide an overview of their Proposal Center system, the business impact, and, how they are taking it even further.


The Proposal Center System

The original system was built using CorasWorks on SharePoint 2003.  It went live in 2005.  When our customer bought the company that built it – they got it.  It was decided that this system would become the core for a new Proposal Management Center that would offer their service to all business units of the company and that would provide a flexible set of services to meet varying business needs.

NOTE: This decision was surprising.  At the time our customer was a complete SAP shop – even for their Intranet/My SAP portal.  The company they acquired used CorasWorks/SharePoint for their Intranet and many other operations.  Our customer killed everything SharePoint from the acquired company, except for this proposal system. This one app has kept the SharePoint flame burning in the organization which over the years is now starting to more broadly adopt SharePoint.

At the core of the Proposal Center is a good solid proposal development system based upon SharePoint.  Each proposal or proposal project is a SharePoint site (at least one) managed as part of an ongoing portfolio of work.  The native SharePoint capabilities have been enhanced with CorasWorks to automate many aspects of the proposal life-cycle and flesh out the system to support a range of different levels of business development capture and proposal projects and information resources as follows:

- Standard RFP Responses – The standard proposal project is a full response to a government RFP using internal resources.  For this, they use a standardized color review process.  The system structures the work, manages the content, and, keeps everyone up to date via email notifications and workflow.

- Smaller BD Projects – It also supports smaller projects.  Sometimes a business group may only require input on the Executive Summary, a short response to an RFI, Past Performance information, or work on a Pricing matrix.

- Managed Knowledge Resources – In addition to managing the projects, the Proposal Center has become a central source for standardized information such as Past Performance, forms, policies, proposal snippets, pricing information, etc.  People working on proposals can “fetch” relevant information from various managed KM repositories and pull it into the working site.  Over time, the Proposal Center has built up an extensive set of knowledge that is reusable as well as knowledge about the process and results of all Business Development operations activity.

- Large Teamed Responses – Further, the system is designed to also support large proposals involving a broad number of teaming partners.  Leveraging CorasWorks and its “secure separation” design each teaming partner is able to interactively participate within the system but only sees the information that they are supposed to see.  Yet, the core company proposal team gets a holistic view of all of the activity.

- IDIQ Task Order Responses – Last year, a new module was added to the system to support IDIQ Task Order Management where they serve as the Prime contractor.  The Task Order responses are managed through the system.  As IDIQ Task Orders, these have unusually short deadlines, such as 10 days, and require an expedited process.

All of the different types of projects are managed via overall portfolio dashboards and work consoles that allow the business development managers to see, act, and contribute as needed.  It provides extensive real-time reporting across the system for business development executives, program managers, and, overall executives.

There are also many unique features to the system that were created to drive productivity within the specific operating environment of our customer.  One of these is the integration with the customers’ SAP HR system.  Our customer responds to a large number of service-oriented RFPs that are dependent on people. Thus, easy access to resumes and integration of vetted individuals into the proposal is a big productivity boost.  Using CorasWorks, the customer integrated with their SAP HR system which allows them to locate people/resumes, which when selected are dynamically formatted based upon pre-defined templates to be incorporated into their proposals.

NOTE: CorasWorks v11, our latest platform release, contains an advanced toolset enabling customers to integrate with Deltek Costpoint, Deltek GovWin CRM, SAP, Oracle Siebel, MS CRM/Dynamics, Taleo HR, Peoplesoft and most other enterprise CRM, ERP, and HR systems used by Federal Government Contractors.  It supports read/write integration, business logic, and is done without custom development leveraging CorasWorks adapters.


Impact on Business

When they first began, they were running fewer than 100 projects through their nascent proposal center using very manual processes.  The Proposal Center’s impact and scope of services has grown considerably over the last two years.  They are now running at 400 proposals/projects per year.  The output is currently driving $250M of new business for the organization each year.  The range of services continues to expand and help drive up the quality and consistency of organizational BD output as well as mitigate the risk of ad hoc activities. Using CorasWorks, non-developer business people in the BD operations groups (vs. IT) are able to maintain the system and enhance and extend it to meet evolving requirements.  This drives down costs and makes continuous innovation practical and efficient.


Next Steps

The customer is currently in the process of migrating the system to SharePoint 2010 and expanding its capacity.  In addition, they are enhancing the system to be a broader Business Development system that manages the full life-cycle with proposals as a core process.  To support this breadth, they are moving the overall design to a broad stage-activity-gate approach to give them 360 degree visibility across the life-cycle.  They will be building up and out their IDIQ/GWAC capabilities to create a full service Center of Excellence.    In addition, the system is going deeper to provide additional supporting processes working across other staff functions such as Organizational Conflicts of Interest, At Risk Authorizations, Finance requests and approvals, and Risk Management that are specific to Federal Government Contractors.

And, there is even more on the roadmap.  But, it is a competitive world so I’ll save that for later.  The key takeaway is that many organizations are leaving a lot of value on the table by using just native SharePoint or legacy rigid proposal systems.  There is a better way




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

Visit CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management for product information.

Federal Contractor Driving $800 Million Business with CorasWorks-based IDIQ Task Order Management System

The Federal Contracting business is very competitive and is getting more so.  A key mission critical business function is the winning of contracts, and, the winning of the right contracts that can be profitably delivered.  Over the last 5 years the use of IDIQ (Indefinite Delivery – Indefinite Quantity) contracts has dramatically grown – particularly for the procurement of information technology and services.   One of the top 20 Federal Contractors has been using a CorasWorks-based system running on Microsoft SharePoint for 6 years to manage their IDIQ-based business.  They started with one IDIQ vehicle and are now managing 14 IDIQ vehicles, 5,000 task order opportunities, and, have driven $800 million in business.  This article will drill down into this customers’ system and their business.

The Challenge

IDIQs are a primary vehicle for the Federal Government to contract for work in IT and related services. In 2011, 30% of all contracts in this space were based upon IDIQ vehicles, representing about $40 Billion.  The 5 year projection is an increase in the use of IDIQs to over 70%.  With IDIQs, the contractor bids to become an authorized vendor for a specific IDIQ vehicle.  This gets them no business, but, it gives them the right to bid for business among the select vendors for that IDIQ. Then, they need to manage and compete on each Task Order that the government releases and win the business.  Task Orders are usually many millions of dollars and span years.  Accordingly, the challenge for these systems is that they are both high volume and they require very detailed management throughout the life cycle of Task Orders.

Our customer wanted a system that would allow them to drive revenue, at high efficiencies, and that was effective at winning the right business (that which is profitable for them).  In addition, they wanted a system that was customizable to their needs so that they could continuously innovate to maintain a competitive advantage.  In addition, in this solution space there are a number of distinct challenges as follows:

  • each IDIQ has different requirements which need to be supported by the system
  • there is a high volume of Task Orders that need to be sorted, prioritized and managed closely – miss a date or a requirements and you are out>
  • each Task Order is different and needs to be managed separately with a process to determine whether to bid on it or not
  • the turnaround time to bid over the years has gotten shorter
  • many Federal agencies or specific Task Orders require teaming partners (small business, women owned, etc.) that are part of the bid, thus, the teaming partners need to have access to information and participate in the process and the delivery – thus security must be tightly managed


The Story, the Solution and the Business

Back in 2006, the customer won a single IDIQ (along with 10+ other vendors) that projected $10 Billion of Task Orders over 10 years.  They wanted a solution to manage the work.  They looked at various Project Management systems such as Primavera.  However, they believed that the IDIQ vehicle approach was going to grow in popularity and they wanted a system that would allow them to continuously innovate to competitively differentiate themselves.  Thus, they looked for a COTS product that was very flexible to build their own unique solution.  They selected CorasWorks running on Microsoft SharePoint 2003.

According to the customer, they built the initial system in a fraction of the cost and time of buying the COTS solution and trying to customize it to their needs.  They did this relying on their internal subject matter expertise and leveraging the CorasWorks product and CorasWorks training.  The key is that the customer a) was the subject matter expert, and b) the “builders” of the system.  Using CorasWorks, they were able to “build” the system and innovate without requiring custom compiled code.

Over the last 6 years, that single IDIQ has generated $250+ Million in business in 80+ won Task Orders.  They used the system to purposely bid less than 10% of the 2,000+ Task Orders that were released under this IDIQ to maintain high win rates and make sure that they were doing the business in their profitable “sweet spot”.

Over the years, they continued to innovate and improve the core system. They also migrated the system to SharePoint 2007 and multiple releases of the CorasWorks solution platform to continue to drive innovation. About 3 years ago, their was an enterprise reorganization.  Given the success of their IDIQ TOM system for the initial IDIQ it was decided to consolidate IDIQ operations across programs/practices within this team.  They have since grown to manage 14 different IDIQ vehicles and all of the Task Orders through this CorasWorks-based system on SharePoint.

The current state of the business is as follows:

  • The team/system manages 14 different IDIQ vehicles (including some GWAC contracts) and all of the task orders
  • They have processed and managed 5,000 task orders since 2006
  • They bid about 10% of the task orders received and have 300 active orders 
  • They have driven $800 Million of business
  • They have 250 teaming partners
  • Teaming partners have access to the Task Orders that they have teamed on through the proposal process and forward if the Task Order is won
  • Each Task Order ever issued is tracked for historical reasons
  • The system supports Opportunity Management so that the customer and their Teaming Partners can work on customer opportunities and then drive the process of getting Task Orders issued

The core modules of this system are as follows:

  • IDIQ Portal and Portfolio Management – looking across all 14 IDIQs and reporting on operations
  • IDIQ Task Order Management – process to manage capture, Bid/No Bid decision and full life cycle of Task Orders for each IDIQ
  • Task Order sites – one for each Task Order where information is stored, proposals are managed, status is updated and participants (including Teaming Partners) collaborate – throughout the life cycle of the Task Order
  • Teaming Partner Extranet and Partner Sites – where Teaming Partner go to access partner specific information, submit interest in participating on a Task Order, submit opportunities, access Task Order sites.

Here are some details on the overall scope of the system and some key features:

  • Every task order has a site that is automatically provisioned.  There are 1,000 active sites and a few thousand archived sites in the system.
  • There are 250 different Partner sites providing them with their place through which to work with the customer across IDIQs and Task Orders
  • Security is a key part of the system.  By separating each Task Order into a SharePoint site, the customer has a simpler way to manage security vs. attempting to use a role based approach with complex security.
  • The historical data, particularly the No Bid decision and explanation, is important to determine which Task Orders they bid on and also enabling them to return to rebid when the opportunity arises.
  • The opportunity management sub-system enables teaming partners to bring the opportunities to them, which they jointly pursue, and then, push through the appropriate IDIQ vehicle
  • The system is managed by two Technical people and the there are three Task Order Managers that do the functional work
  • The separate business groups that the team/system serve manage three elements using their own tools: large Proposal Development, Project Delivery, and Customer Portal(s).
  • The customer is planning to migrate the system to SharePoint 2010 this year and to take advantage of the CorasWorks “advanced” capabilities of version 11 to continue their innovation.  When done, over 7 years, they will have evolved the system across three cycles of the SharePoint platform (2003, 2007, 2010) and more than 7 versions of the CorasWorks solution platform.


My Comments on this Solution

This is a very valuable mission critical system – arguably the key type of system for Federal Contractors in the IT/Services space given the growing use of the IDIQ vehicle.  Note that while the use of the IDIQ vehicle is growing dramatically, the overall IT/Services spending is barely growing.  Thus, the Federal Contractors are fighting it out within a pie that isn’t growing – if you win, your competitor loses.  Having a system that gives you a competitive advantage for the type of business you want to win is simply core to winning this game.  With CorasWorks, this customer got what they needed.

It is a big system, based upon the vast number of sites.  However, in many key ways its design is simple.  This simplicity is important to drive efficiencies and to be able to effectively maintain the system – most importantly the security framework.  Complex security designs are subject to human error.  This design makes it far easier to get right.

The managers of this system/business function, two key people, have continuously driven this system forward over the last 6 years.  Their experiences and lessons learned are continuously built back into the system.  They just keep getting better and the results of the system get better.  The CorasWorks product and support services are ideally suited to this type of situation where the customer wants a competitive advantage and has the will and skill to build it out with our support. 

This particular customer could also use CorasWorks for some other core IDIQ system elements, in particular, large Proposal Development, Project Delivery, and Customer Portal(s).  However, since this is a very big organization with this operation spanning multiple organizational groups, at this time, each group uses its own tools to do these three things.  They are looking into providing CorasWorks solutions for these as opt-in additional services to the business groups.

The overall design of this IDIQ Task Order Management system is what I refer to as a Broad, Distributed Work System (see my intro article Putting SharePoint to Work).  This type of system is incredibly well suited to a SharePoint environment.  In fact, it is hard to imagine designing and building such a distributed system on an alternative platform.  The features and benefits of this system in terms of flexibility, maintenance, efficiency and business effectiveness would be tough to match.

It is interesting to note that this system is effectively a single app.  It is really large and its impact is critical.  Many SharePoint customers talk about the challenge of managing lots and lots of sites that aren’t used -  a feeling of chaos.  However, in this case all of those sites are part of a single, inter-connected, system.  The overhead of many sites actually increases the efficiency, effectiveness, and security of the business and every site has its purpose.




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

Visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management for product information.




RFP Response Ideas and Input on Cim for Proposal Management

New Product Development and Process Improvement are obvious applications for CorasWorks Idea Management (Cim).  Our creative customers are starting to enlighten us with not so obvious ones.  Here is a good one – tapping into your workforce to generate ideas, input and information for a response to an RFP and pushing it into your Proposal Management response app.  We like it so much it is now part of our standard demo.  In this article I’ll discuss this business scenario.


The customer who came up with it is a very large government systems integrator.  They have built a project-oriented proposal management solution using CorasWorks on SharePoint.  It is very sophisticated with complex layers of security to support government security requirements and multiple vendors.

Their objectives are straight-forward – win more proposals and make money delivering.  How?  By tapping into their broad workforce to get good technical, delivery, operational ideas, input, and information up front and throughout the proposal process to improve their proposal, increase their chance of winning and their success in delivery and making money doing it.  Their approach is to use Cim to improve their process.

Basic Workstream Description


The flow works like this.  The RFP comes in from the prospect.  They then kick off a proposal site for the Response team in their existing system.  They begin their normal process.  Now, the change in process comes …

- The response team prepares a challenge site using Cim to get input from either a broad audience or a more select but large audience depending on the proposal.

- They set a limited timeframe for the initial response ideas, say 2 weeks to a month, to get input.  People contribute, vet, augment, rate, comment, etc.  Again, this may be a broad open challenge community or a private but larger community for invited participants.

- They then have a Screening/Review step where they screen the input.  The ones they like or need they push into the Response team site to use in the process of preparing the proposal.

- As new issues or topics come up in their proposal process they go back out to the community?  For instance, as they get through the process they may need to go back to test their assumptions on Resource Availability and Cost.  Thus, it becomes a supporting iterative application to augment the overall process.

The Diagram

Here is a diagram that lays out the basic workstream. It differs somewhat from a straight-through idea workstream like Process Improvement because the Proposal team kicks it off from the start.  In effect, the community element is a subset of their their overall proposal process.  It is an option, a tool they can use to broaden their chance of success.






The Demo Example

In our Cim demonstrations, we now have an example of this scenario.  Our scenario is commercially oriented – the ACME Widget Company has put out an RFP for vendors to propose their services/products that will help ACME reduce energy consumption at its manufacturing facility.

Below is a screenshot of the RFP Response Challenge community.  We are showing one idea that has been proposed.  Note that the contributor has attached key documents required by the process as specified by the response team.ACME

The full end-to-end solution

With the systems integrator customer mentioned above they have a CorasWorks based Proposal Management system.  That makes it a nice, end-to-end, pre-integrated solution.  However, you can also use simple native SP collaborative sites for Proposals or any that you have customized with or without CorasWorks.  CorasWorks natively integrates and allows for the downstream integration (pushing screened ideas into the proposal sites) with any SharePoint based site.  In addition, you can integrate this process as a bolt on to other third-party Proposal Management solutions such as Privia from Spring CM.  This can be done either through a non-invasive approach where you can easily see or access the selected information from the third-party app or actually push or pull the information into the database of the third-party app.


The goal of the proposal process is to win more proposals and to be able to profitably deliver on them.  Easily being able to tap into a broader group of people in your organization (or partners and vendors also) and integrate their ideas, input and information into the process improves your chance of success on both objectives.