Take your company’s many Contracting Officer (CO) relationships as an example. It’s definitely one of your most important Government relationships. Manage these critical business relationships responsibly and your company maintains a solid foundation and a performance-focused reputation position that increase your future growth.
A recent Association of Proposal Management Professionals National Capital Area Chapter round table discussion and individual OCI representative meetings with a cadre of Government Contracting Officers leads us to share the following recommendations, in conjunction with a typical CO Relationship Management Do’s and Don’ts list, with our customers:
CO Relationship Management Do’s
- Do communicate with us so we can explain what we need. Open communications is critical to any positive relationship. Train your sales and technical personnel to work in unison with their CO to create a "win-win" relationship. Then support your staff’s dedication by sending senior corporate officials to meet with each CO on a regularly-scheduled basis. Make sure to give your senior people strict instructions to do more listening than talking. This is a performance information validation and enhancement session, not a sales call.
- Do focus on our assigned mission and help us meet our objectives. Your being awarded a contract represents your company’s firm commitment to successfully perform all tasks detailed within the contract regardless of its monetary or future marketing value. Focus on maintaining a "win-win" working relationship by working within established contractual agreements. Help us justify every dollar spent while working in unison to implement the targeted solution. If we’re successful, then you’ll share that success.
- Do keep us informed on the latest and greatest methods and technologies. Contractors represent an invaluable emerging technology knowledge resource for Government. But, do your homework before trying to sell us the latest and greatest solution. Review published Government IT plans, address established government standards compliance, and include a cost-benefit discussion as part of your presentation.
- Do follow the directions of the officials you elected and we must follow. Acquisition abuse stories are being published on a more frequent basis. Expect a renewed emphasis on business ethics and strict compliance with established laws. While your company may be able to endure some bad publicity, a smart CO would rather avoid that experience. Our professional careers are more important than your company’s balance sheet or stock value.
CO Relationship Management Don’ts
- Don’t try to "capture" us or "win" us in some great battle. Understand that a CO’s primary responsibility is to maintain a level playing field when determining how to spend taxpayer dollars. Comply with all applicable laws. Ask questions that directly related to the stated requirements. Then submit a compliant proposal that clearly states your company’s solution. If I truly take my mission seriously, any other activities will be viewed as being out of bounds.
- Don’t submit proposals filled with boasting, marketing fluff, or irrelevant information. Show me that you’ve started working the contract within your proposal submission. Accept the fact that any other type of proposal can be quickly identified and appropriately scored during the evaluation process.
- Don’t ask for inside information or special handling–especially after the RFP has been released. Again, a CO’s primary main responsibility is to maintain a level playing field when determining how to spend what be an increasingly limited taxpayer dollar base.
- Don’t treat subcontractors unfairly. Subcontractors should not be used as proposal mannequins to win a contract. Fully vet and justify all subcontractors you propose as part of your competitive bid. Then live up to all elements documented in your subcontract. In instances where Federal laws dictate small business participation, don’t be shocked if we require you to comply.