How can we make the work on contracts more efficient and effective? One powerful way is to enable people from the Federal Agency and the winning vendor Contractor team to work together in a shared environment to manage the work. In this article, I’ll review a work management system that we just delivered that does just this.
The story is about how we were able to take our off-the-shelf IDIQ Task Order Management solution and rapidly apply it to meets the custom requirements of an RFP from a Federal Agency for a shared Contract Work Order Management System. The story is partially about our solution, but, it is also about how a Federal Contractor can leverage CorasWorks (software and people) to outdo the competition, win business, and, stay close to their customer.
A civilian Federal Agency released an RFP as a small business set aside valued at about $100M over its term. It is an outsourcing contract for IT-related Services. The format of the contract is a single-award IDIQ with general Task Orders and specific Work Orders supporting about 30 core work areas. The Work Orders are the primary method for getting the work done.
The new wrinkle is that the agency required, as part of the proposal, that the vendor provide a shared, collaborative, online work management system enabling the participants from the Agency to work with the participants from the Prime contractor and their team. The system had to support the release of specific Work Orders that would come in as Agency requests, get released for estimates, get estimates, and drive the approval process. In addition, the system had to support visibility into the work in progress including planning, tracking the work, ongoing collaboration, issue flagging, and reporting.
The big practical challenge for the Prime contractor and team was that the Agency required the vendor to have the system up and running on the date of submittal of the proposal. It would be a live system, accessible by the Agencies review team during the proposal review phase and would then be migrated post-award. This was a major compliance challenge that could have doubled or tripled the cost of submitting the proposal. And, whatever system they proposed, they were going to have to live with for the duration of the contract.
A member of the Prime bidder’s team was a Top 10 Federal Contractor that is a CorasWorks customer and was familiar with our IDIQ Task Order Management solution that runs on Microsoft SharePoint. This solution is designed for use within Federal Contractors, primarily in a multi-award situation, to manage the process of responding to task orders. Upon review, it was decided that this solution would be the base for the required Work Order Management System. The primary reasons were:
- the core off-the-shelf feature set is very close to the needs of this contract work order management system
- the configurability of CorasWorks would enable the team to deliver the required demonstration environment at a very reasonable cost and on time
- CorasWorks is an open application environment, ie., not a proprietary code base, and thus, it be custom-configured, enhanced, and extended, by the Contractor team, to meet ongoing needs.
The solution was implemented by CorasWorks with our bidding team of the Prime Contractor and subcontractors. We started with our off-the-shelf IDIQ Task Order Management solution running in a CorasWorks provided online environment. We then applied it to the Agencies requirements. This work took a couple of weeks of configuration and testing. Some key requirements for the system were:
- The system was designed to support Federal Agency participants and Contractor participates within a common, online collaborative work environment requiring appropriate control of permissions and work action authority.
- The system was setup up to support two workstreams (distinct stage-based processes). One for Work Orders that cover the core contract work areas (the bulk of the work). The other for new Task Orders that would be released to expand the scope of the contract. Each workstream was a bit different.
- Each workstream had to support 2 work Phases. One was the Approval Process with the key stages of Request, Review, Estimating, and Approval. The other was for approved work orders, Work In Progress, covering Working Planning, Work in Progress, and Closeout.
- The system needed robust reporting to show process metrics and exception reporting across the life cycle of work.
- Each work order or task order has its own Workspace that contains the detailed information for the item across its life-cycle and supports the collaborative activity required to drive the item forward.
The system was delivered within cost and exactly on time which was objective one for compliance and is now in ongoing support mode. The system met the compliance requirements of the Agency and included an interactive checklist to make it easy for the Agency to validate compliance. While this system is not the core reason why the Agency will award the contract to a vendor team, it was perceived as a major reason why a team would be knocked out of the competition.
In addition, after working with the system, the Prime Contractor is now in process to procure CorasWorks for internal use and to leverage this Contract Work Order Management system to create a standard way of working on each of its major single-award contracts and for use for its IDIQ task order management.
It is not uncommon for CorasWorks to be used to bring up collaborative work environments that bring together participants from Federal Agencies, Prime Contractors, and, contract teaming partners. In fact, this particular agency has had experience working in similar CorasWorks-based environments for two other major contracts/programs with another Top 10 Federal Contractor (see Large Federal Contractor Drives Customer Intimacy and Value with Dedicated Program Workplaces on SharePoint).
However, this particular application of our IDIQ Task Order Management system was new. Instead of focusing on winning the work, as in the typical multi-award IDIQ scenarios, it is all about getting the work done with visible participation of all members (Agency and Contractor). Our existing solution provided 90% of the base system allowing the team to get where it needed to be very quickly.
I can see the use of CorasWorks for Contract Work Order Management in three scenarios.
- One where a Federal Contractor uses it just within their organization and working with teaming partners to manage work requests on their single-award contracts.
- Another is for a Federal Agency to manage their request processes within the Agency and the interaction with their vendors.
- The third is an integrated, shared work environment as in this scenario.
I believe that this last scenario, the integrated work environment, is the top of the food chain in terms of driving efficiency and effectiveness of the work delivered on Federal Government contracts. We’ve seen it before and it is proven. However, you need an enlightened agency and a contractor that can handle the transparency to make it work. Like any collaborative process, it takes the team some time to learn how to work together and how they work will continually evolve as they learn.
See additional articles for IDIQ Task Order Management in this blog.
Visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management for product information.