8 Ways to Improve Your Business Operations in 2024 for Better Contract Delivery

January 17, 2024 | Business Development, Government

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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?

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MYTH: Since the amount of goods and services the government buys is not affected by a economic downturn as private industry, the best time to begin selling to the government is during a recession.

FACT: Developing an effective government business development strategy usually takes years. Waiting until the economy is in recession to pull the trigger on a plan can doom it from the start as this strategy takes time and resources to develop….items that seem to be more scarce when the economy is in a downturn.