In the coming years, there will be lots of opportunities for businesses that depend on government contracts. But how do you find the ones you can successfully capture?
Though federal contracting opportunities are made public, it can be cumbersome to go through all the information. That's why government contractors need to make better use of the resources and tools available to them. This way, they'll never miss an opportunity.
To find the right contract opportunities, you must know where to go and how to search. There are a lot of sources, and some will have information others won't. That makes it all the more pivotal to check all of them.
Some main general public sources include:
- Federal Business Opportunities (FBO.gov): FBO.gov is a good place to start. All new government solicitations are posted here. The only opportunities that aren't are classified ones, such as jobs for NSA, SOCOM, 3-Letter or other secure requirements.
- Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS): FPDS tracks all government contracts.
- USAspending.gov: Designed to enhance government transparency, USAspending.gov is where all awards of more than $25,000 are published.
- System for Award Management (SAM.gov): Anyone who's registered to do business with the federal government has registered on SAM.gov.
There are other public sources that focus on certain sectors and business types, such as:
- Agency websites: Though some are more detailed and up to date than others, specific agency websites usually publish new opportunities for businesses. They'll also publish other things of interest, such as small business forecasts and work charts.
- Military websites: Each branch of the military maintains its own site for announcing opportunities. For instance, the Air Force lists its available contracts through Air Force Acquisition.
- Dynamic Small Business Search Database (DSBS): This database shows opportunities available to small businesses.
If you decide you need to hire a paid "Accumulator" source, look at which tools fit your team, industry and budget best. If you choose the right one, an accumulator can be useful because it can give you information about opportunities quickly.
There are many paid Accumulators out there, including:
It's worth noting that these business intelligence tools do present lots of information, but they may not be as current or accurate as you need. Some opportunities may be outdated, while new ones may not be listed. So, it's a good idea to use more than just one tool.
How Should You Look for Opportunities?
For any business, you most likely have to go through lots of sources to fully understand what opportunities are available. You could do this manually, but that may take up too many resources. You could pay one of the sources listed above to aggregate all that data. These one-stop shops offer convenience and efficiency, but they don't always have the best data.
The fact is that such accumulators miss some things, such as what's going on with the president's budget. After all, all opportunities start with the president's budget. For example, if you're in the IT industry, you should be reading Exhibit 53 and 300 from the White House to see how IT investments are being made.
Also, remember you need a way to manage and capitalize on this data. Some of these business intelligence tools have a capture management module, but they that is not their main business and usually are not as strong as you require. It's better to find a product that is built specifically for capture executive software.
Winning Government Contracts
Winning any government contract requires business intelligence, a repeatable sales strategy and a good proposal management process.
In addition to public and paid sources, use your network to learn about potential partners and incumbents. Build a pipeline and implement a formal capture management process.
In the end, it's a combination of tools and resources that gives you the best chance — not just one. That's because you don't just require information on where an opportunity is. You need to find out how real that opportunity is — and how to go about winning it.