Government Procurement - What's the Big Deal?

In my last blog, I outlined why public sector is an attractive market and draws the attention of many companies, especially when the commercial market is soft.  I also mentioned that only those companies who add real value have a chance to win and the “Johnny Come Lately’s” have a real challenge to try and be successful.  Today, I look at one element of this complex market – the procurement process.

Much is made about the onerous procurement process employed by the federal government.  Many companies cite that complexity as one of the main reasons why they either stay out of this segment, or partner with a company that has more experience in this area. What can be so hard about getting a purchase order out of a customer who actually wants to buy your product?

Government ProcurementBetween various unique contract vehicles, IDIQ’s, GSA, GWACS, MACs, SEWP, ECS, IFFs,  RFI’s, RFP’s, RFQ’s, BAFOs, MIPR-ed money, the FAR, OFPP, FPDS, CCR, FBO, NAICS codes, it’s no wonder that the decision to enter this arena is not for the faint of heart. Add to that the approval process, the multiple paths to market and participants (direct, teaming, agents, aggregators, SI’s, dealers, VAR, VAD, Disty,  OEMS, etc.) along with the unpredictable appropriations process, and a “root canal” starts to look appealing. Well, perhaps a picture can better illustrate the simplicity of it all.

If you then overlay the role and participation of major systems integrators and time sensitivity (yes, some companies actually have quarterly forecasts to meet), you can understand the hesitation on the part of a company sales manager when the Sales VP at headquarters says “we ought to be in the federal market to grow our software sales.”

So I recommend a “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” strategy.  Use one of your “lifelines” to phone a friend who has already cracked this code, has demonstrated mastery in this sector and lives it every day.  G2G - I need to grab this call – it might be the next Oracle asking for some help.