Whatever Deltek’s rationale, it is sad to see the GovWin community that I used to be apart of fade away and gradually die over the last year or so. And by GovWin community, I am not talking about the GovWin.com website that exists today, which is INPUT repackaged. I am talking about the large network that a small team of very talented people built over the course of a couple of years (see the screen shot below of our homepage from November 23, 2010).
From 2010 to 2012, I had the privilege to be part of an editorial team, many of whom had strong AOL roots, that breathed life into GovWin.
We did not have a great social media presence at the start, but with Elliot Volkman and the team, we rapidly grew our audience across multiple platforms.
In fact, we were not really a known commodity at the time we came on board and relaunched the site in October of 2010. Every time we mentioned we were part of Deltek, we received a less than warm response. So, we had to set out and forge our own identity. We were, after all, very different from Deltek because we were an online community, resource center, news site and networking platform and general hub for government contractors looking for opportunities, partners, employees and knowledge, and much more.
A tireless team, which included Joe Loong, Erin Bush, Sean Tucker, Micheal Mullen, Lindley Ashline, Anthony Critelli, Elliot Volkman, Deanna Glick and Charles Butler (forgive me if I am leaving people out), worked for months to create a library of content on government contracting that was impressive.
At one point in time, you could search in Google for all kinds of common govcon terms, acronyms, contract vehicles and news items and GovWin articles or blog posts would appear at the top of the search results. On a few occasions, we were ahead of the U.S. government’s own resources on the topic.
That is not the case anymore. I ran a quick search on many of those terms, and today you do not find GovWin in the first 3 pages of Google search results (I stopped at 3, because what’s the point of going farther?). There are some paid ads from Deltek, but that is it.
The GovWin community certainly was not perfect. There were horrible coding issues with the site (including misspelled words within the code), and I believe we were on Drupal 5 through most of our time there. When it came to programming content, it was not a seamless process. Our tech team and a few of us on the editorial team worked wonders to get everything together day after day, and ensure the content kept changing.
Then there was the long-term strategic vision. I often pushed with senior management that we needed to take the network to another level and allow for “friending” or “connections” similar to Facebook or LinkedIn. In fact, I thought the next logical step was for us to create a LinkedIn-styled system, so government contractors could build relationships with one another within a very niche community.
And it seemed logical to me to go beyond our existing services and create a system that could pre-screen contract proposals based on risk, similar to what contract officers use. This would help thousands of government contractors improve their proposals and increase their chances to win government contracts. From a revenue perspective – there was quite a lot of potential. But it was not part of the company’s plans.
Closing Thoughts On The GovWin I Remember
Despite the challenges we all experienced, and the ones I experienced personally, there is nothing like the GovWin community that we created currently available. Many of the hundreds of knowledge articles, resources and blog posts, are still valuable for government contractors. Especially companies seeking their first government contracts.
For two solid years, the team of people I mentioned above and I created something that was unique and highly valuable. We traveled to conferences and events together, interviewed executives from a wide variety of companies, put on virtual events and networking sessions, and with a limited budget (almost no budget), we created a strong brand where none had previously existed. If I had to do it all over again, I could not find a better group of people to do it with, or a better community to do it for.
Though this post focuses exclusively on the editorial team, there were great developers and coders who worked hard to clean up what they inherited, and give us graphics and technical enhancements to make our lives easier. People like Cian, Erin, Pam, Brent and more. We could not have done it without you guys either. Then there was the Match team, lead by Bridget Anderson, who was brilliant. And good crew of marketers. I remember everyone fondly. We had great times at work, and after work at Carpool and other spots.
After some careful consideration over the last few weeks, I decided to leave Deltek to pursue other opportunities. Last Friday (March 9, 2012) was my last day.
With this transition there are a couple of important things I want to convey:
1) I will miss the daily interactions with government contractors that made my role as the senior community manager for GovWin.com so unique and special. It is profoundly rewarding to work with companies of all shapes and sizes that are trying to make adjustments and improve their overall operations so they can compete for government contracts. At GovWin, we conducted a wide variety of video interviews with executives designed to showcase what companies are doing in a variety of sectors. We conducted roundtables, brought in experts for Q&A sessions and much, much more. The proof that these were the right things to do was illustrated by the executives, consultants and others from across the industry that I worked with who not only appreciated the information and value to their business, but also how they were treated in the process.
2) I will miss the daily interactions with the people at Deltek who were less concerned about process or having control, and more focused on building a positive relationship with the consumer. At the end of the day, engaging with prospects and customers in thoughtful and meaningful ways is the best path to understanding what people really need to be successful. It takes more time, energy and commitment, but establishing a relationship takes time, energy and commitment. Given the pace of business (and the rather slow pace of government contracting), relationship building is the cornerstone of success. For those whose emphasis was on sales numbers or leads on a spreadsheet, you are only limiting your own potential and that of your team and company.
3) This does not mean I am leaving the world of government contracting. I plan on taking a break for several months and then getting engaged when the time is right – and with those people who want to make a difference for small and mid-sized businesses in the GovCon marketplace.
I had the opportunity in the early spring of 2012, to put together and moderate a panel on “Cloud Trends In The Federal Market” while I was at GovWin.com.
The federal government’s move to the cloud is ongoing. We see both the private and public sector using cloud technology to improve storage and data accessibility. The issue of data security, as with all platforms, remains of vital importance. In the case of government adoption, it is not just security and technology that are issues, but culture and process as well.
During this Virtual Roundtable Webinar, the distinguished panel of experts that I organized explore the challenges government agencies and contractors are facing with adoption of cloud technology, as well as the opportunities for 2012 and the government’s own success stories.
Michael Hackmer, Senior Community Manager, GovWin, Moderator
Steven A. Coles, Vice President, Sales, VMware
George “Mel” Hurley, Director, Information Assurance Solutions, Wyle
Stanley Kaczmarczyk, FAS/ITS Director of the Cloud Computing Service, General Services Administration
Russ Langford, Managing Director, EMC Consulting
Kevin Plexico, Vice President, Federal Information Solutions, Deltek
View the full, hour-long archived video:
In preparation for the upcoming Government IT Trends and Spending Priorities Virtual Roundtable, I spoke with Dmitry Kagansky, CTO, Public Sector of Quest Software today.
Kagansky echoed what I’ve heard from other government IT experts: that one of the principle challenges facing government agencies today is looming budget cuts. When I asked him how government agencies were grappling with the knowledge that cuts were coming but had not yet been implemented, Kagansky said that even though cuts have not been formally announced, government agencies are planning for that — cutting travel and tightening their budgets.
In short, many government agencies are anticipating cuts, as opposed to reacting to the cuts when they are introduced.
Challenges Facing Government are Twofold: Technology Boom and Looming Cuts
On the whole, Kagansky summed up the challenge facing government agencies as being two-fold.
“I think there is a very large growth on the technology side,” Kagansky said. “There are more things happening at once: cloud, mobility and the ongoing security concerns.”
“But at the same time,” he noted, “while you have this growth on the technology side, you have budget cuts, delays and spending restrictions. I think that makes for an interesting combination of how can you use technology to not only make sure you are secure and do lots of things, but to act in the most fiscally responsible way possible.”
Key for Government: Maximize Existing Resources and Collaborate
One of the ways Kagansky has been working with government customers to meet those goals is to expand their use of Quest solutions to meet other challenges.
We’ve been talking with our customers,” Kagansky said, not to do more with less, but to “do more with what you already have.”
Part of the way to do that is to study and learn from commercial successes and best practices. In many cases, Kagansky says there are solutions developed in the private sector that help “bridge the gap” for government agencies.
We also talked about collaboration in government. One of the strengths he has seen from government agencies across the spectrum is their desire to be more collaborative to best address the challenges posed by future budget cuts.
“People are looking to do more collaborative work,” Kagansky said, “and looking to one another for help instead of being siloed-off as they may have been in the past.”
Kagansky will be participating in the live Virtual Roundtable discussion on Nov. 16. Join the discussion and register now, free.
Since the “Great Recession” struck several years ago, the tough economy has hit every sector of society, with the nation dealing with 9 percent unemployment. However, as we approach Veterans Day, the tough economic times have hit veterans especially hard, with veteran unemployment at 12.1 percent.
With over 850,000 American veterans unemployed and continuing to struggle to find meaningful, long-term employment, Katie Hirning, Senior Vice President, Government Sector, Sutherland Global Services, joined GovWin for a GovCon Careers Webinar entitled, “Connecting Veterans With the Private Sector” to shine a light on how companies can do more to hire veterans who can bring much-needed skills and expertise to the private sector. Download the presentation slides [PDF]
Challenges to Veteran Employment
“In these tough economic times with this high unemployment,” Hirning said, “it is the norm for our veterans, unfortunately, to be unemployed.” Hirning noted that each year approximately 125,000 personnel are discharged from the military. With the upcoming drawdowns in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the number of veterans potentially entering the civilian workforce over the next few years is expected to be higher than usual. With an economy continuing to remain sluggish with no to minimal growth, it becomes even harder for veterans to find the kind of flexible and meaningful employment they need.
Another challenge, according to Hirning, continues to be corporate veteran recruiting programs. While most companies have them, most “fall short in the recruiting efforts, training and retaining the veterans.” Part of the problem lies in what Hirning calls the need for companies to better recognize how “a military position and skill level is translated into a civilian skill level.”
Partnership Between Veterans, Private Sector and Government Is Key Ingredient
To better facilitate an understanding of how skilled veterans can fit into your organization, Hirning strongly recommends that every company approach their recruitment as a strategic partnership between veteran communities, including non-profit groups, as well as local, state and federal agencies.
“You have to really be able to connect with a community,” says Hirning, and “not just the local veterans community.” The benefit of connecting with the community, according to Hirning, is that you can tap into programs for veterans. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, for example, has a program for employing veterans, and many states have similar incentives. But to truly unlock all the information and plan your recruitment program effectively, you need to first tap into the existing communities.
“You need to really create a local community, a state community from the state you are going to hire from, and then at the federal level,” Hirning notes. “And if you can create that structure, you can draw the kind of talent that you need” for your company.
Key Factors To Consider When Recruiting Veterans
While creating the communities for veteran recruiting and engaging veteran organizations are both important steps in the process, Hirning had other recommendations for companies that will help ensure their recruitment programs are succesful:
- Keep your veteran recruitment program separate from all others, and keep it in your human resources department.
- Bring in an experienced veteran to help run your recruitment program.
- Implement very strong and continuous training programs, and remember – this is a career that you are trying to offer, not just a temporary position.
- Remember that virtual and/or flexible workplaces can be the difference between success or failure in finding and retaining full time employment for transitioning veterans, disabled veterans and military spouses.
Veterans Represent the Disciplined and Skilled Workers Companies Need
Lastly, Hirning pointed out that veterans are highly skilled from their time in the military, have tremendous discipline and great work ethic. The key to easing the unemployment crisis facing veterans is for more companies to take an active role in hiring veterans, recognize the benefits veterans represent to their company, and reaching out and engaging with veteran communities.
For those interested in finding solutions for veteran employment, Sutherland Global is hosting a symposium on Connecting Veterans to the Private Sector, Monday, Nov. 14, in Washington, D.C.
I had a chance to interview 3eTI‘s President and CEO, Benga Erinle, about what his company is doing in the government space around wireless networks and security. 3eTI is doing some incredible things for the U.S. military and the commercial sector that make it one of my top companies to watch in the years ahead.
Tune in to the interview below, and be sure to hear Benga’s perspectives on government IT trends and spending during our upcoming virtual roundtable on November 16.
3e Technologies International (3eTI), an Ultra Electronics Company
3e Technologies International (3eTI), an Ultra Electronics Company, is a leading provider of highly secure wireless networks that enable critical systems security, infrastructure security and industrial automation. Our experience and proven performance in the most demanding and rugged environments, makes our networks ideal for the military, government, industrial and utility markets. 3eTI’s platforms are approved for use by the most stringent and demanding customers: the U.S. military.
Time management is key for any business professional. But in the world of government contracting, with all its processes and players, not managing your business goals and daily tasks at an optimal level could end up costing you current government contracts, damage your reputation as a company and prevent you from delivering your products and services.
Before logging on or getting sucked into e-mail or other activities, prioritize your tasks for the day on paper – preferably a notebook where you can keep all your priorities together. Then, list “must do,” “should do” and “do not need to do today” tasks in clear groups.
After you have written down your tasks, take the “must do” tasks and turn them into “do it now” tasks.
By taking care of core priorities right away, you reduce the risk of distractions that will take you off-target and away from your business goals.