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.
GovWin has updated the opportunity match score a company receives to include contract vehicle and place of performance. Also improved is the way matching is done for clearances, socio-economic status and end customer to account for hierarchy.
Here are some examples where these changes will play a role:
- Clearances – Companies with Top Secret clearances (staff or facility), will now be matches for opportunities that require Top Secret or lower clearances.
- Socio-economic status – Companies that are 8(a) certified will now match to opportunities that require 8(a), Small Business or Small Disadvantaged Business.
- End Customer – Companies that list experience with Army Corps of Engineers will match to opportunities that require experience with Army
As part of the Virtual Executive Roundtable series that we started at GovWin.com, we have put together two outstanding panels of experts – one to cover the government’s cloud initiatives (February 16) and another to address the new programs and efforts to enhance cybersecurity (March 9).
But going beyond forming a panel of leading cloud and cybersecurity speakers, we decided to try something a little different with these roundtables. Instead of having the audience sit and watch a long series of slides and data, we have decided to get more people involved and help drive the flow of the conversation – before, during and after the event.
The process is simple. Just register for the events (registration is free). And then post questions in our Q&A forum. When the event is LIVE, submit additional questions and answer polls. Then following the event we will keep the conversation going with our panel, provide an event recap and video, and explore the topics and issues we need to address next.
TO THE CLOUD! GOVERNMENT CLOUD INITIATIVES
Though the cuts to Defense Department funding is a close second, the shock of GTSI’s suspension by the Small Business Administration from receiving new procurement work on October 1st reverberated through the government contracting space. Though the suspension lasted just a few weeks and has since been lifted, the allegations GTSI improperly subcontracted through other firms to gain access to contracts set aside for small companies caused significant damage to its reputation and led to the resignation of its CEO. According to analysts, this was the most significant suspension of a top-tier contractor that many in the industry can remember, helping to make it our #1 story of 2010.
Why did the suspension of GTSI mean so much to the GovCon space?
In 2010, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his plan to cut 10 percent in spending on support contractors and overall spending cuts over 5 years totalling over $100 billion. The move has not been without controversy in the government contractor community, the military and among political leaders. For starters, Gates proposal includes dismantling of Joint Forces Command based in Norfolk, VA, which impacts thousands of jobs. The proposed cuts on contractor work, which is expected to roll some work to full-time government positions, also is being felt across the country.
The leaking of sensitive government documents and spread of content online has renewed some emphasis on security and increased some restrictions on what government employees can view online at work, what people can access and how easy data can be transported and shared.
Why does it matter to the GovCon space?
The Obama administration has pushed over the last couple of years to increase insourcing or the hiring of direct government employees over contractors. In 2010, the debate over “insourcing vs. outsourcing” seemed to intensify, with contractors and groups expressing their displeasure, and the government trying to soften the impact of their policies. Still, government officials continue to be focused on bringing work back into agencies.
Why it matters to the GovCon space?