8 Ways to Improve Your Business Operations in 2024 for Better Contract Delivery
January 17, 2024 | Business Development, Government
Image made in Canva
In government contracting, awards are what we want. They stand as the benchmark of success. However, more than simply winning contracts is required; delivering on those contracts efficiently and effectively is equally crucial. I’ve seen too many companies win one and never win again. Some of this may be due to a lack of a sales strategy, but other times, they could not deliver on what they promised effectively. The back office plays a pivotal role in ensuring the successful execution of contract awards. Businesses should optimize their operations to streamline processes and enhance contract delivery. This article will explore eight ways to improve your back office in 2024 to better deliver on your contract awards.
1. Standardize Your Kickoff Process
A standardized kickoff process is essential for setting the right tone for a successful contract execution. This includes a standard response once the contract is awarded, defining the next steps you would like to take. The government will have its own, but being proactive sets the tone that you expect to deliver this contract flawlessly.
Ensure that all team members understand their roles and responsibilities from the outset. Create a detailed checklist that covers all necessary steps, including project goals, timelines, and communication protocols. Your submitted proposal is the best place to look for what would be on that checklist. Standardizing the kickoff process minimizes confusion and ensures everyone is on the same page from day one.
2. Improve Your Invoicing System
A well-functioning invoicing system is the lifeblood of any business. Inefficient invoicing processes can delay receiving payments and negatively impact cash flow. Consider implementing modern invoicing software that automates the process to improve your operations. Features like automatic payment reminders, customization options, and integration with accounting software can significantly enhance your invoicing system’s efficiency.
Furthermore, build other categories into your invoicing process to make running required reports for your contracts easy. For instance, if you have a GSA Schedule and need to compute the IFF Fee each quarter, specifying a category in your invoicing program may make it easier to find those transactions when submitting your report.
3. Have Weekly Check-Ins
Whether checking on any unexpected issues in manufacturing, shipping, or personnel, regular communication is critical to addressing issues promptly and keeping projects on track. Weekly check-ins with your team can help identify potential problems early and allow for quick adjustments. They could be in person or virtual. They could also take more of a digital flavor, leveraging technology. The key is to define what this platform is for your organization and stick to it. These meetings provide a platform for discussing progress, challenges, and any necessary changes to the project plan. Consistent communication fosters a collaborative environment and helps prevent misunderstandings.
Most contracts come with unforeseen challenges, but contractors are often judged by their ability to mitigate these issues as they arise. The sweet spot is when you can solve a problem for your customer that was out of your control and not contractually your responsibility. Constant communication facilitates such problem-solving.
4. Develop a Database of Job Candidates
You need access to a diverse talent pool to meet the demands of various contracts. Building a database of job candidates can save you time and resources during recruitment.
Utilize applicant tracking software to maintain a repository of qualified candidates. This tool could start as a simple spreadsheet, but as it grows, you may want to use something more intuitive, like a CRM configured for talent management. Collecting and managing this information will enable you to quickly identify and onboard suitable candidates when new contracts are awarded.
In my opinion, this database isn’t just for companies in the staffing business. Identifying good talent should be the focus of every business, and waiting until you need someone to find someone, while it may seem more straightforward, does not leverage your network and some of the talent you may have already meant.
5. Standardize Reporting Requirements and Build Systems to Streamline the Process
Efficient reporting is crucial for tracking project progress and meeting contractual obligations. Standardize reporting requirements, when able, across all projects to ensure consistency. Additionally, invest in systems or software that automate data collection and reporting. This reduces the burden on your team and minimizes the risk of errors in reporting.
6. Develop a Standard Pricing Tool
Pricing plays a significant role in contract awards. Developing a standard pricing tool that allows you to adjust a few fields to arrive at the pricing needed for a proposal can be a game-changer. This tool should consider various factors, including labor costs, materials, overhead, and profit margins. Having a standardized pricing tool simplifies the bidding process and increases your competitiveness.
This action item may sound like it is more for a proposal process article, but the government often wants to change the scope of work and will ask for a price revision. Working from an already-developed tool will ensure more accuracy and timeliness in your response.
7. Standardize Project Management
Inconsistent project management practices can lead to costly mistakes and delays. Standardize your project management approach to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Create a project management framework with clear workflows, documentation standards, and quality control measures.
Identify a platform to use for project management (Excel, Google Sheets, Smartsheet, Teamwork) and stick to it. Have the team agree on one project management tool and capture everything in that platform.
8. Invest in Training and Development
Improving your back office also involves investing in your team’s skills and knowledge. Provide training and development opportunities to ensure that your staff is equipped to handle the complexities of contract delivery. This can include project management training, software proficiency courses, and industry-specific certifications. Also, consider training in soft skills like dealing with difficult people, coaching and mentoring for supervisors,
These training opportunities do not have to be expensive, in-person, week-long conferences or seminars, though sometimes this approach is appropriate. They can also be in virtual training sessions and on-demand resources, allowing employees to spread out training over multiple weeks, reducing the financial and operational burden of having someone out of the office for extended periods.
According to the Society of Human Resource Management, over half of employees need more opportunities to develop their skills and improve their work. Train them so they can perform better jobs for your company.
In 2024, optimizing back-office operations is crucial for timely contract delivery. Embrace these strategies to drive business growth and success. Have you ever witnessed a company winning a contract but struggling to deliver its promises? What do you think were the reasons behind their difficulties?
Back to Blog Home »
- February 2024
- January 2024
- December 2023
- November 2023
- October 2023
- September 2023
- August 2023
- July 2023
- June 2023
- May 2023
- April 2023
- March 2023
- February 2023
- January 2023
- December 2022
- November 2022
- October 2022
- September 2022
- August 2022
- July 2022
- June 2022
- May 2022
- April 2022
- February 2022
- January 2022
- December 2021
- February 2021
- September 2020
- July 2020
- June 2020
- May 2020
- April 2020
- February 2020
- January 2020
- December 2019
- August 2019
- February 2019
- January 2019
- December 2018
- November 2018
- October 2018
- October 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- November 2015
- October 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
MYTH: Companies cannot do business with the federal government if they aren’t connected politically to the party in power.
FACT: The federal government’s procurement process is designed to be one of the most objective, transparent processes in the world of business. Contracting officers are forbidden to award federal contracts based on politics. Furthermore, elected officials are forbidden to interfere with the agency’s contracting process.