The Federal Government is extremely frustrated with the lack of innovation they're getting from traditional providers. Not surprising... over the past 10 years the entire market swung very heavily towards LPTA (low cost, technical acceptable) bids which, and no surprise, gave the government what they asked for.
The problem was... they didn't know what to ask? I mean that respectfully to all of those folks who were trying to move fast but the procurement system worked against them. There was an expectation that their existing cohort of contractors would innovate but that just wasn't in the cards. For instance, what's the incentive for contractors to finish a job earlier with new technology? None... they're getting paid by the hour.
The entire market has shifted once again and candidly the power of innovation and to make a difference is in the hands of the start-ups. Think Ace/King. Here are my top 3 suggestions as you think about going to market (G2M) in the Federal space - especially if you've never done it before.
The Federal Government is the largest buyer of IT / Technology in the world. You can argue it all you want, but $100b a year doesn't lie. The challenge is finding the right opportunities and more importantly the right partners. Instead of trying to figure out the Federal procurement system (which is exhausting - an expensive), think about how you can help a contractor with an existing contract differentiate themselves. They will be much more inclined to give up workshare and by using the Exchange you can create leverage with all of the other contracts they have.
Get involved with major Federal incubators (that are commercially run). It gives you the best of both worlds... a) continue innovating as fast as you can, and b) leverage their services and mentors to help you G2M. They have connections you don't, agenda's you don't, and have a pulse on the Federal buying patterns. And, they don't care about winning contracts but rather helping you accelerate growth. Capital Factory out of Austin is a killer one.
Finally, come to the table with game and attitude. Go on the offensive - but only if you know the problem and have a potential solution to fix it. If you go to the table with some bullshit idea without a clear understanding of the value proposition of the Federal mission or problem, then stay home. It has to solve a problem, or better yet, solve a problem in the future the government customer or contractor hasn't even thought about.
Oh, and a quick #4. Don't hire an expensive / $150,000 Federal business development executive that has a Rolodex. Ask him/her to text their contact if they don't text back after the interview then pass. Or, better yet, contact me or someone on our team and we'll be happy to spend 10 minutes with them... that's all it takes to know if you really have game.
Happy hunting. And, use the Exchange and your brokers. You've got better things to do creating than wasting time doing market analysis and researching things that candidly you probably don't understand anyway.
Keep on rocking.