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.
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:
On Thursday, September 16 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm, a group of leading business development professionals in the government space is gathering at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner, VA to discuss best practices, strategies and changes in the federal procurement marketplace.
The event will help facilitate a discussion among the leaders in federal contracting and sales in the GovCon space at a time when the dynamics of doing business with the federal government is changing faster than ever.
To get the conversation started before the event, I had a chance to ask one question of each of the panelists. Take a look at their responses below, and submit your comments.
And don’t forget to register for the GovCon Business Development Panel, this Thursday from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to network with top GovCon experts over complimentary cocktails and appetizers. Click to register(registration is free).
Question: What piece of advice would you offer business development professionals in the government space on either what they are doing or not doing that they need to change to improve their success?
Jim McCarthy, CEO, AOC Key Solutions
Here is my advice: We need to reinvent the way we conduct business development, execute capture, and manage proposals. We need a new process, a new paradigm. We need to change our thinking from a slavish compliance to RFP requirements (“beyond mere compliance”) that elevate form and process over substance and content.
We need to shift to thinking about how we can serve our government customers and add value to them. Not how we can guile them into awarding us the contract.
Stop focusing on what we want to “tell them and sell them.” Focus instead on what they want to hear and what they want to buy. Telling and selling is often different than hearing and buying. To know the difference takes leadership and courage. It is time to reinvent ourselves as BD professionals.
Dan Shyti, Vice President, GWAC Management Center, L-3 STRATIS
The Federal BD process is a unique animal. If one were to explain it to a commercial salesperson, they would think you were from another planet. Because of the uniqueness, it’s easy for a Federal BD person to focus on reading portals like Input, tracking RFPs, and following the government compliance process. It’s easy to forget that basic sales skills still apply. My advice is to keep your basic sales skills sharp. Be personable. Know how to make customers feel comfortable around you. Build strong relationships across the marketplace – both inside government and with industry counterparts.
Mary Gostel, Senior Vice President, Market Intelligence, FedSources
BD professionals in government contracting need to find ways to “do more with less”. Increased competition, IDIQ sales cycles and fewer large program opportunities translates to more proposal activity without additional resources. Choose bids wisely, based on solid market intelligence not industry buzz, for greater win probability.
Al Mink, National Security Strategy Director, SRA, Inc
Much of the answer depends on the context. But in general I’d say, “Strive for agility and mass.”
Maneuver/Agility to move quickly in terms of closing on teaming, strategic hires, customer meetings (before doors close), writing task orders in 10 days, etc
Mass: to have the brainpower and heavy lifting to for a successful capture and proposal. If the resources for capture are spread too thin, then you risk competition outperforming you. For example, many firms either gloss over or decide a Black Hat is unnecessary, only to learn later that they would have improved their proposed solution had they thought about how their competition would approach the opportunity. Another example of thinness is making “availability” the primary criteria for the technical team. This leads to constant turnover during capture and the B team during proposal.
Maneuver/Agility and Mass – two military terms that definitely relate to successful business development activities
Hillary Fordwich, President, Strelmark, Business
Business development professionals to improve their success need to keep their focus on just one issue. How are they creating a WANT for their products and services? Not selling, not pushing something that is not wanted.
If you are outside of the DC area, but still want to participate in Thursday’s GovCon Business Development Panel, click here to watch the live-streamed panel discussion from 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM.