Tag Archive for Federal Government Contractor

Lohfeld WinCenter(TM) – integrated Capture and Proposal Management software for Federal Contractors

Bringing the best together.

Yesterday, we announced our partnership with Lohfeld Consulting Group and the new Lohfeld WinCenter(TM) software product.  WinCenter provides Federal Government Contractors (GovCon) with an integrated system to manage opportunities across the capture and proposal life-cycle.  It is integrated in a number of ways.  In this article, I’ll talk about the integration of process and technology and how it came together.  And, I’ll provide you with other resources.

As you all know, CorasWorks provides its own CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management solution as part of its Federal Government Contractor solution set.  Over the last year, we have supported customers that were using CorasWorks on SharePoint and that also had adopted a Lohfeld based capture and proposal methodology (or similar model such as Shipley).  We started embedding their process into our solution during implementations.  It was kind of a “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup moment”.  You take the process methodology, best practices, artifacts, guidance etc. and embed it in the software and automate the work.  The result is a system that works the way C&P professionals think about their work, that automates their work, that literally guides them through the process and the activities, and that provides exceptional visibility across the full life-cycle for all participants.

You’d think that this would already be a no brainer.  But, there is a big chasm between consultants/professionals that have the deep process knowledge and the software vendors providing the tools.  So, normally that great process is in people’s heads, on the wall, in 300 page manuals, and in some documents somewhere and users have to figure out how to use various tools to do different parts of the work. The potential productivity and effectiveness just gets lost.

So, working together, we’ve developed WinCenter.  It combines the standardized best practices of the industry for the Capture & Proposal process with the power of the CorasWorks work management platform on SharePoint.  It is an enhanced version of our Capture and Proposal Management solution.  Its seamless integration of all aspects of the process sets a new bar to drive productivity and win effectiveness.  It is available from Lohfeld and from CorasWorks.  And, it is designed to be very customizable to fit your particular modified C&P process and way of working.

I’ll leave the product details to the following resources and future articles and information.  Here are some resources to get you going:

william

CorasWorks Work Management vs. CRM Database System (3 Part Series)

apples and oranges

This month I wrote a 3-part series that provides a comparison and discussion of CorasWorks Work Management system vs. a CRM database system.  This discussion was triggered by a Federal Government Contractor customer demonstration I attended and the discussions between IT and the Business Users of our customer.

The point of these articles is not an argument for why you should buy a CorasWorks Work Management system vs. a CRM database system.  It is about explaining how they are different and play different roles in your enterprise work environment.

In sum, the CorasWorks work management system provides you with a flexible, business user friendly way to optimize your productivity while the CRM system is an enterprise system of record.  Knowing their proper roles, which is best for what purpose and having them work together can yield you big dividends without the pain of unmet expectations and needs.

The articles are as follows:

william

Using software to improve your capture competitiveness in 2014

execs-at-the-starting-line

Next week the 2014 Federal Government Contractor race begins.  The competitive landscape will just get more intense.  Last week, Bob Lohfeld, CEO of Lohfeld Consulting Group, wrote the article 2014 realities force companies to change tactics in Washington Technology.  They surveyed 300 Federal Contractors to assess where they are today in their capture process and where they plan to invest in 2014 to improve their capture competitiveness.  The article tells you why change is needed by most and what most intend to change.  In this article I address the how – as in how you can actually get to where you need to be and beyond.  I explain how software, the new generation of Work Management systems represented by CorasWorks, can be a differentiator in this increasingly competitive marketplace.

First, a few key takeaways from the Lohfeld article:

  • Only 22% of the 300 companies surveyed felt that they had a competitive capture process that was a) defined, b) repeatable, and c) well-managed.
  • 49% of the survey respondents planned to invest to improve their capture process.
  • Another 24% believe they need to improve pricing methods and 22% need improvement in the quality of their proposals.

In summary, most Federal Contractors have a lot of room to improve the effectiveness of their capture process, capture analytics, and pricing approaches to be at a top competitive level.  It starts by defining your process, including the phases, activities, methods, and decision making approaches.  But, to be competitive in 2014 you have to ensure that you not only have a process but ensure it is standardized across your company, is repeatable, is flexible enough to tailor as things change, is measurable, and provides good management visibility to enable educated decision-making. Translating this defined approach into software systems that drive the process and support its management will accomplish this. The new generation of Work Management systems like CorasWorks makes this practical and raises the bar.  The mix of people, process, and technology as applied to the capture function of Federal Contractors is in a big state of transformation.

Let’s look at where most competitors are in terms of their systems to support their capture process…

The Situation

Based upon my many discussions with Federal Government Contractors, here is what I would define as the norm for mid-size to larger organizations:

  • They have a commercial CRM/Opportunity Management system.  The most common are Deltek GovWin CRM, Microsoft CRM, Salesforce and Oracle Siebel.  For small businesses, Zoho CRM is up-and-coming.
  • They have a “modern” document management (DM) system.  They are off file shares.  The most common are SharePoint, Documentum, eRoom, and Alfresco. I estimate that half are using SharePoint as their primary DM system.
  • The majority use their DM system to manage Proposal Development, basically to store documents.  Each proposal is usually siloed.  A smaller portion also have a commercial, proprietary Proposal Automation system such as Privia or VPC.
  • Reporting is all over the map, pulling from different systems.

Limitations of the Status Quo

The current status quo noted above is limiting and constraining.  Here are the realities of this situation:

  • Siloed, mostly proprietary systems – the core systems noted above are greatly siloed.  The systems aren’t usually connected.  Even within systems, like the DM systems, the information is in silos. In addition, within the same organizations they often have different systems or instances of the system for the same purpose. The glue for capture activity is ad hoc email, excel, and navigation links. It is everything except a unified, manageable system to support a defined capture process.
  • The process is not embedded in the software – if they have a defined process it is usually on the whiteboard, in a 100+ page manual, and, in people’s heads.  At best, they might have broken the activities of the process into sections stored as documents or web page narratives. The capture process, the activities, the work to be done is not “instantiated” in a software system that structures the process, captures the activity, drives the results, and measures progress.
  • No Phase-Gate based process system – the religion of capture is by definition a Phase-Gate based process. The best processes have systems to track the activities and automate the work. Yet, most organizations don’t have a process-based system to use for capture. Instead, they tend to leverage CRM databases or document management to do parts of the work. Then, to address process needs they do a great deal of manual work.  They simply lack a process-based system.
  • Lack of Work Automation – the day-to-day work is still incredibly manual vs. automated which results in lost productivity and inconsistencies in results.
  • Little Real time Visibility – given the above, the real-time visibility of executives, managers, and contributors into capture is limited. In most cases organizations invest a great amount of effort to manually put information together for gate reviews, executive reviews, and briefings, often repeatedly “repackaging” the same data (hosted in myriad documents) into templates or formats du jour—an unbelievable waste of time.
  • Advanced Management Tools are missing – capture process analytics, portfolio optimization, real-time reporting, capture M&S/B&P burn-down, resource allocation management – largely doesn’t exist. The core data for capture activity isn’t captured in a way to drive these management capabilities.

If the above sounds a bit like where you are, that is okay because 60-70% of your competitors are also in that place. The question is how to do better.

How to Get Ahead of the Pack

The design of software systems has greatly changed over the last 5 years to accommodate collaborative processes such as capture. We provide software, particularly Work Management software that, when combined with good capture process definition, will get you ahead of the pack. Our approach is simply different than the databases, document management systems and proprietary applications of the past.  Here are the core elements…

  • Purpose Built, Off-the-Shelf Solution – We put the capture process front and center. We have a purpose-built, off-the-shelf base solution called CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management. It is built specially to address the full life-cycle of capture. This provides an out-of-the-box integrated system. It brings all of the core parts of the capture process together.  But it is— by design—just the start.
  • Phase-Gate Based Process System – Our solution is designed from the ground-up to support the full capture life-cycle. This means that at its core it is designed to support a collaborative Phase-Gate based process and to automate and track the capture activity. Our design gives you the foundation for your process.
  • Unique Flexibility - Our solution is built using the CorasWorks Work Management platform which runs on Microsoft SharePoint. This platform approach makes the solution open (vs. proprietary) and uniquely flexible. Thus, organizations are able to easily embed their defined process, their language, their data to capture, and their activities into the system. In fact, it is so open, flexible, and non-proprietary that our customers are able to customize it and enhance it on their own, and even, create new features and completely separate applications that support the capture process. As a result, organizations are able to create a capture system that is a competitive differentiator.
  • On and Within SharePoint – As above, our solution and our platform runs on SharePoint which we use for data, security and administration. If you already own SharePoint, then we leverage your existing investment and skills and lower your costs. In addition, it means that it is a native part of your existing work environment on SharePoint and can natively connect to and interact with other existing information and applications.
  • Work Automation Drives Consistency and Analytics – With the above, a great deal of the work becomes automated. By automating the user actions and activities based upon your defined process, the work is done more efficiently, in a consistent way, and you are then empowered to have real-time visibility, reporting, and analytics.
  • The Glue for Capture – Our Work Management platform contains a comprehensive integration framework to integrate with external systems such as your CRM, HR, ERP, Contracts and Program and Project Management systems. This puts your CorasWorks based Capture system in the middle of the activity serving as the glue to bring it all together. For instance, many Federal Contractors leverage Deltek products.  A common integration for capture processes is with Deltek GovWin IQ and GovWin Capture Management (their CRM, read a case study of this in Leveraging CorasWorks to integrate Deltek GovWin CRM with SharePoint-based Capture and Proposal system).

Quick ROI and Continuous Improvement

There are two practical benefits to adopting a CorasWorks-powered approach for capture: Quick ROI and Continuous Improvement.

The pricing and cost of our software and solutions is incremental so you have a low cost to start. You can also get up and running very quickly, usually faster than proprietary systems and way faster than custom development.  And, the flexibility of our software allows you to decide where and when you want to address needs.  The result is a Quick ROI from the start.

In addition, in the past, when you had to buy proprietary software or invest to custom develop it, you were locked in. Improvement was too hard and costly. Where CorasWorks really excels is empowering you to continuously improve your process (now instantiated via software) and the results you get. The unique flexibility of CorasWorks means that you can have it your way to start, learn, then easily and cost-effectively change the software to get better.

People, process, technology – have the right mix and you’ll be on top.

william

New Solutions and Case Studies for Federal Contractors

We continue to enhance our support for Federal Government Contractors.  We just updated the Federal Contractor microsite section of our web site.  Assuming that you have been there before, press CNTRL-F5 to refresh the content.

We now highlight 5 solutions for Federal Contractors.  We have 6 new Case Studies for a total of 10.  The solutions are:

  • IDIQ Task Order Management
  • Capture and Proposal Management
  • Program, Project and Portfolio Management
  • Idea and Innovation Management (new)
  • Shared Services Work Management Environments

For an overview of our Federal Contractor vertical in 2012 and solution plans in 2013 see the following article:

CorasWorks’ Federal Contractor Business Grows 75% in 2012 Fueled by Accelerating Industry Competition–Review and 2013 Plans

Do More With Less and Do More for Less

The new solutions and case studies are evidence of our core message to Federal Contractors which is how we enable them to Do More With Less (the competitive business value) and Do More For Less (our cost improvement value proposition).  As we invest in this area and “standardize” the solutions, our value proposition just gets stronger.

The key is that CorasWorks on SharePoint is a platform approach that is enabling Federal Contractors to get great leverage through a Shared Services model.  Once you have the platform in place, any and all of the solutions we offer or that you build can be dropped in, natively integrated, re-purposed, enhanced and extended.  It just works.

Make sure to look at the 2 case studies under “Shared Services Work Management Environments”.  These given a sense of how this approach has worked for a 1,000 person and a 20,000 person organization.

william

CorasWorks Solutions for Engineering

Hard core engineering is at the heart of all companies products and systems. Increasingly, success depends on how effectively globally dispersed individuals are able to work better together.  In this article, I’ll review several CorasWorks solutions that we have delivered recently for the Engineering business function. I’ll look at 3 customers and cover 7 work management solutions that address the “soft side” of engineering – how you get the engineering function to work better together.  The solutions are are all based upon the CorasWorks Solution Platform running within a Microsoft SharePoint environment.

Engineering Work Management Hub for Automotive Supplier

The customer is a 4,000 person division of a Top 100 Global Industrial company.  This global division provides components and systems to the automotive industry.  The Engineering function is a 250 person organization.  The customer wanted to create a central Hub where engineers could go and access the core information and participate in key processes.  Using CorasWorks on SharePoint they wanted the Hub to be a single place where the engineers could to access information and to do their work WITHOUT having to go to a different application interface.   They wanted to avoid the app interface proliferation that they experience with the multiple legacy PLMs that they have used over the years.  Accordingly, the specific applications were designed as “services” so that they all surfaced within the Engineering Work Management Hub. Below I will cover three specific applications that are part of the Hub.  Each is a custom application created jointly by CorasWorks and the customer using the CorasWorks v11 Solution Platform.

Design & Engineering Work Standards (DEWS)

This is both a resource and a process.  It provides engineers with access to the approved design and engineering work standards.   In addition, it provides the full process to manage the creation and change control of proposed and published DEWS.  This process consists of three core roles of Engineers, Document Control and Design Engineering.  The system is automated to keep all parties informed of review update reminders, new updates, reviews, and newly approved items.  All work is done within the Hub.

Equipment Management

A key role of engineering is the maintenance of manufacturing equipment and the use of equipment for testing and calibration.  This application manages all pieces of equipment used by engineering.  It serves as the system of record for the Certificates of Inspection for all equipment.  In addition, it includes check out processes for testing equipment and maintenance and calibration alerts.  A nice feature is the inclusion of images of the equipment as part of equipment descriptions.

Purchase Requisition

Engineering is responsible for a large number of purchase requisitions.  This application supports the full process from request through final approval.  The requestor receives constant updates via email and within the Work Management Hub.

 

Resource Planning and Demand Management for Electronics Component Manufacturer

This customer is an 11,000 person manufacturer of components for computers and consumer products with $5B in revenue.  The engineering function was looking for a better way to manage their global resource planning and allocation process and to provide visibility into the project load for their product roadmap.  Their standard planning cycle is 5 years ahead with a rolling quarterly estimate of engineering resources by technical function.

The customer had tried a number of approaches in the past to address this need ranging from spreadsheets to Microsoft Project Server.  They wanted something in the middle that provided a structured work process but was highly visible and collaborative.  They had found that the most effective estimating was a rolling solution where the more near term estimates should be very accurate, but, they are able to generally project the needs as far as five years out in order to manage the demand side of their project portfolio.

The CorasWorks-based solution provides a central place where engineers from around the world get a single view of all projects in the product pipeline.  The function managers then make estimates of the required resources from their function and by team (skill) on a quarterly basis.  This information is then correlated to provide resource estimates by projects, by function, and by skill (overall resource allocation).  The solution integrates with Microsoft Project Server which is the system of record for the project portfolio and actual project activity.

They now have a single place where global Engineering management can collaborate and get a single view of the allocation of their resources.  They have ongoing and historical estimates for each manager (which has become quite interesting as they can see how the estimates change over time).  In addition, they have a robust. real time dashboard reporting system with drilldown into actual project work.

Idea Challenge Management for Engineering Function of Defense Systems Integrator

This customer is a 10,000 person organization providing advanced systems and services to the Federal Defense Agencies.   The organization had been a customer of CorasWorks for a number of years.  Over the last two years they had been evaluating third party Idea/Innovation Management solutions at the enterprise level but had made no decision due to cost and common lack of core process management capabilities.  One of their business divisions is a 1,000 person organization with 550 engineers that provide systems services primarily on a cost plus basis. This unit wanted a solution that would enable them to drive timed, specific idea challenges out to the engineering group with a detailed downstream review and management process.  They selected the CorasWorks Cim solution for Idea and Innovation Management for this purpose.

Their solution was implemented in a 3-month pilot.  During this time they launched 6 idea challenges across the 550 engineers of their division.  Three of the challenges were general to all 550 engineers and 3 others were specific engineering challenges for 3 different lines of business.  The ideas went through a detailed initial management screening by their Engineering Management team including a Quadrant (Impact High-Low, Cost High-Low) to provide a quantitative approach.

An important element of their pilot approach was that they had a structured set of downstream activities to drive to conclusions.  The resulting initial actions on the submitted ideas broke down as follows:

47%   Deferred (largely not priority)

12%   Requiring more research

26%   Promoted to Line of Business

12%   Process Improvements promoted to Working Groups

3%     Approved for immediate implementation

The pilot was successful with ideas approved for immediate implementation and with subsequent Integrated Research and Development (IRADs) fundings being approved by the lines of business.  Remaining ideas continue to be managed through the funnel.  The customer has since moved up to an enterprise license of Cim for the organization.  However, they envision a two step approach moving forward.  First, they are working on cross-pollinating their challenge model across the engineering groups of the 4 other business divisions (a total of 3,500 engineers across the 10,000 employees).  Then, they will open up the model to the broader organization managed at the business division level.   The interesting part is that there is no definite commitment whether they would even role out enterprise-wide idea management initiative as they now believe that the greatest business value is a challenge approach driven by specific business needs of specific groups (a bottom up approach to innovation).

The Soft Side of Hard Core Engineering

Information technology solutions in engineering have tended to focus on the hard core aspects of engineering like their CAD/CAM diagrams.  What you see above are solutions that address the softer side of engineering, the way that work is managed and how engineers are enabled to work better together across globally distributed organizations.

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)

image

 

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)

image

 

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.

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.

Exploring Different Adoption Continuums for Idea and Innovation Management

We’ve been active in the Idea and Innovation Management solution area for a few years.  Initially, we introduced a point solution, CorasWorks Idea Management on SharePoint, to compete with the primarily SAAS solutions in the market.  Over the years, we have evolved to look at the “right” solution for innovation as a flexible set of modules/solutions that can be applied at the right time with the right stuff to match where our customer is along their continuum.  In this article, I’ll take a look at quite different adoption continuums (phased rollouts) from two organizations.  I’ll then provide you with my thoughts on which is most right.

The Top Down “Enthusiastic” Continuum

I was recently on a call with a new prospect that has a newly assembled “innovation team” representing their 18,000 person company.  They brought a great deal of enthusiasm to the task of evaluating us, vetting their approach, and seeking to understand product alternatives.  Leveraging the range of CorasWorks solutions and the flexibility of our software, we came up with a continuum for a phased approach to adoption.  it goes like this…

1. General Enterprise Idea Capture and Collaboration – Let’s call it the “idea exchange”.  They want to start off with an enterprise-wide idea capture and collaboration portal.  The reference site/solution is My Starbucks which is basically an inbox for public ideas with collaboration.  It is for the capture of general ideas about anything.  Our customer wants to start off with a similar type of site, but, only for internal employees across the enterprise.

2. Idea Management – They realize that they will have to then manage the contributed ideas through a process to decide what they will implement.  This is the necessary, but, mostly un-fun part of the equation. The “innovation team” will layout and manage the process.

3. Specific Challenges – Once they have that going, they want to engage business groups and launch specific, event-driven challenges.  Each challenge will be “owned” by the business group and they will manage their own process.  CorasWorks supports challenges and separate processes.

4. Collaborative Communities – This customer recognizes the value of introducing collaborative communities into the mix.  This would come after the basics above.  They are used for recognition, knowledge, communities of purpose, and, as hotbeds for collaboration to lead to ideas. In their case, this step is very powerful because they have a distributed organization with 100’s of offices and many services so they can greatly benefit by enabled this virtual collaboration.

5. Portfolio and Execution Integration – Assuming success as above, they envision the ability to look top down and across the activities.  Thus, they want to be able to see the broader innovation portfolio that includes the Idea Exchange and the specific Challenges.  They also want visibility into the downstream execution of ideas done with various project-oriented tools.

6. Open Innovation – Lastly, once the internal innovation is up and going, they will be looking to open it up to their external communities. 

The above 6 phases of the continuum represent logical enhancements/extensions to innovation.  This continuum is common for those that are new to innovation and armed with a top down enterprise mandate.  CorasWorks supports each of these phases.  They could be implemented separately as different modules or as the customer advances through their continuum, the extensions would be added on.

The Bottom Up “Practical” Continuum

For comparison, we recently implemented a customer using a more bottom up “practical” continuum.  The customer is a 9,000 person division of one of the top 10 largest federal systems integrators/government contractor.  They have been a CorasWorks customers for about 5 years.  We started talking to them about Idea and Innovation Management 2 years ago.  They came to us with an enthusiastic “innovation team” evaluating product alternatives as in the above example and following a top down approach.  For 2 years, nothing happened.

A couple of months ago a business group of 800 people within the division came to us and said basically “okay, we are ready to go”.  They were implemented within 2 weeks of the start of the project.  They had their Idea Portal up and running with 6 challenges across 3 departments.  They were capturing ideas and starting the review process.  Their continuum looks like this…

1. Challenges for Their One Business Group – launch a few very specific challenges for one business group that are each managed through a simple and common process by one team within the business group

2. Get better within the Business Group – their objective is to get better at launching more relevant/effective challenges (think about it as evaluating the challenge and the result vs. just the ideas) and at managing the process.  Their approach is that the particulars of their management/decision process will be baked out by using the software.  As an existing CorasWorks customer, they are very aware of the ability to change processes on the fly as needed.

3. Division/Other Business Group Challenges – The division is trying to innovate also using manual methods.  The idea is that at a point where the approach is validated at the business group level, they will take it up to the division level or to other business groups to do their own challenges.  Note that in this phase, they are effectively creating separate clusters for challenge management that are managed locally.

That’s it at this time…

Which is the right approach

I’d like to say it depends.  However, our experience is that the top down, enterprise approach is not effective as measured by the perceived business results and the longevity of an innovation initiative.  In fact, for most organizations that come to us with this top down “enthusiastic” approach, not much happens, and if they do get started, a year or so later the initiative fades away.  While it is logical, the real world doesn’t seem to work that way.  Thus, in the case of the prospect noted above, while we laid out their continuum, I did my best to educate them on our experience with that approach and made some progress. 

There are a host of factors here.  However, at the core is that innovation is a process that requires work, trial, learning, maturation, and, success.  People these days often enthusiastically come to the game to leverage collaborative technologies to tap their workforce, but, they lack the commitment necessary to follow through the full life cycle to show the results.  If you are asking people to take the time to contribute ideas and collaborate, and you fail to follow through with decisions and results, do not expect to build momentum. 

Alternatively, if you start bottom up, with very specific challenges, and build on your success (as in the bottom up “practical” approach) you simply have a much greater chance of succeeding over time.  You build momentum.  Think Facebook.  They did not start by launching a broad social web portal to compete against MySpace.  They built it up one college at a time to become the massive, multi-cluster network that it is. 

On the flip side, too much process discussion and diagramming to start can also kill an innovation initiative.  You need some process to start or else you have no credible way of evaluating ideas, making decisions, and investing. However, your process should evolve as you learn.

As you might conclude, we do support all of the different solutions mentioned above that might appear on Your continuum.  Each solution is modular and they can all be phased in and inter-connected as your system evolves. Yet, CorasWorks is really taking a fundamentally different approach from most pure product vendors.  By design, our software is unusually flexible and therefore supports continuous innovation of your system. The real value with CorasWorks is not necessarily what you get from “the box” when you get started, it is about having a solution that is easy to get started and evolves as you move through your innovation continuum. 

william

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.

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.