By the time you visit government contract opportunities websites, you usually have a limited amount of time to submit proposals or bids. However, firms wishing to contract with local and Federal governments have several tools at their disposal to help extend the time they have to plan for procurements and to respond to RFPs. Knowing what these tools are and how to utilize them is critical to contracting success. This post will discuss five tools you can use to forecast government contracting opportunities and to fuel your strategy. Focus on these tools to develop your forecasting plan:
- Build business relationships – Contracting or procurement officers, supplier diversity representatives and small business specialists are routinely listed in forecasting plans. Often, their direct contact information is included as well. This can give you some time to begin to develop relationships with key procurement personnel.
- Develop a team – Based on the potential procurement listed in the forecast, you may decide that you are interested, but need to increase your capacity in order to fulfill the contract. Teaming allows for businesses to combine their expertise and talents to perform on projects that are larger than they could take on their own.
- Research – Requests for Information (RFI) are research tools used by procurement personnel to help them identify potential solutions to existing problems. Even though respondents’ results often show up in subsequent RFPs, an RFI is not a promise to issue an RFP in the future. Many times, responding to RFIs provides a unique perspective regarding challenges the agency is facing and gives you an opportunity to make suggestions regarding what they should include in the future RFP if it goes forward.
- Decide on certification – Sources sought are used primarily in Federal government procurements and their purpose is to determine who is available in the market to perform a particular task. In the case of the Federal government, if two or more qualified businesses of a certain socioeconomic group respond to a sources sought request, the contracting officer may choose to set the contract aside for that group. With this knowledge, you may decide that it is to your advantage to certify as a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Disadvantaged Small Business (DSB), Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone), or any other designation in which you qualify to become certified.
- Create a timeline – Forecasting and buying plans will usually have a general time frame denoting when the contract opportunity will be posted to the public. It is best to use that date and work backward, so that you can determine when tasks need to be completed. This can include actions such as building business relationships, developing a team, conducting research, obtaining training, or getting certification prior to submitting a proposal.
All in all, as a business owner interested in doing business with the government, you must understand that using forecasting as a tool can allow you to glean crucial information that will enhance your government contracting strategy.
By: Kristin Travis, Associate, IL PTAC at the WBDC