Focusing on a new target audience can be an ominous undertaking. Regardless of the new direction, there is much to learn to ensure that you are making a good decision and that your firm appears genuinely qualified.
When going after government work for the first time, it’s even harder. Beyond a slim portfolio of A/E projects for the federal government, there is also a not-so-slim learning curve of jargon, acronyms and forms galore. So, how do you know if going after Federal Agency design work is for you? Here are a few questions.
Are you looking for a “quick fix”?
A/E services in the Federal arena have a LONG lead time. Just like projects in the private world they don’t always get off the ground, but even if they do, it could be months or longer before contracts are awarded. Additionally, there is time needed to ramp up just to qualify for government work. So if your firm is looking for new markets to fill gaps in the next few months, the Federal government won’t fit the bill.
Do you have time to market?
Put quite simply, pursuing Federal A/E projects isn’t designed to be just a small part of your efforts. One of the reasons that most smaller companies solely contract with the government is that they don’t have time/manpower to market to other industries too. With the access to public information comes oodles of reports and websites to sift through to find the RIGHT public information. And then you have to do something with it! If you have the time, it can be very worthwhile though.
Are you willing to play second fiddle for a while?
One of the best ways in to Federal contracting is as a sub to a more established A/E/C firm. Unlike in the private world, a great presentation can only get you so far. Prior experience reigns supreme and without it, most agencies can’t even look at you. Joining an existing team as a subcontractor or specialist builds your SF 330 resume and your relationships, both of which are crucial if you would like to win work as a prime eventually. If your firm is willing to work on architecture or planning projects where you aren’t the lead, that’s a great place to start.
The nation is all-a-buzz with talk of stimulus funded projects and increased Federal spending. The firms most likely to take advantage of it will have a well-crafted strategy and long-term view of how to approach Federal agencies for work.