Sequestration, small business and the federal marketplace

sequestation blog

I rarely write directly about the contracting process, this is primarily because it isn’t my area of expertise. I’ve been working with public sector clients for almost 20 years but I still don’t claim any particular expertise in the business of doing business with the government. I’m prompted to write today for two reasons; the first is just selfish, I’m hoping someone who knows more than I do will jump in and help me understand what is going on; and the second is that I think there are some things happening because of sequestration that are going to have long term impacts on both small business and the quality of the services the government receives.

For our SDVOSB, the past year has been the slowest year we have ever had in the public sector. Despite growing requests for services in both our public sector and private sector practices, the only place where we have seen interest materialize into real growth has been in the private sector. In the public sector we have fielded more requests for meetings than we’ve ever fielded, and responded to more RFPs than ever before, but it hasn’t translated into actual work. A big part of this has been that many procurements have been delayed or cancelled. The answer from the prospective clients on why has been almost universally the same “Sequestration.”

A recent report produced by the House Committee on small business includes the following statement “While the impacts are far-reaching, they will be particularly significant for small businesses.” I agree that we have felt negative effects, but I think the federal marketplace is going to suffer as well. I think you are going to begin to see highly qualified small businesses shift their marketing efforts towards private sector engagements. This isn’t necessarily because they don’t want to be a part of working in the federal space—they may very well. In fact in our case our website has a piece written by our Managing Partner, Erik Ballinger a former Navy pilot on “Why SDVOSB?” that carries in it his belief that part of the reason we do work for the federal market is because it is part of our continuing public service. This patriotism and dedication to the mission carries into our performance and that of other veteran owned small businesses, and make us a valuable part of any public sector contracting strategy. You can disagree with me, but I think you will be hard pressed to find another group of organizations that are as dedicated to the mission and to this country as this group.

In summary I feel that the public-private partnership particularly on the small business side has been significantly challenged by sequestration. I’ve had some really heartfelt conversations with people in public service recently about this and there doesn’t seem to be many answers or much of a sense that we can expect positive change any time soon. I believe that if agencies don’t take steps, they are going to see some of the best and most dedicated businesses—those that have private sector options – shift their resources away from doing public sector work. Not because they want to, but because they have to because of the conditions that sequestration has put on the market. I’d love to hear from other people on their thoughts about how sequestration is effecting service provision, private sector partners and the mission.

Interested in learning how to work with your local Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business? Check out our “SDVOSB Contracting 101.”

Looking for qualified SDVOSBs? Take a look at Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization’s (OSDBU) VetBiz web site.  This site provides information about the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) efforts to verify Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses (SDBOSBs) and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs).

 

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Milking the value out of your enterprise architecture

Milking value blog

One of the big complaints that you find with business executives, and even IT executives, with regard to enterprise architecture and strategic planning organizations is that it takes a long time to get to value.  There is a definite perception that these types of organizations and their associated methodologies and tools take a really long time to develop. Consequently, they take a very long time to get to value.  I don’t believe that it has to be that way.

It may take a long time to develop the maturity to churn out a daily return on investment, which is the promise of so many enterprise architecture organizations or strategic planning groups, but it doesn’t have to take a long time to get to value.  You just have to be a little bit more tactical about how you approach the types of information you’re going to bring into the organization and the type of decisions that you’re going to support. You’ll also have to spend a little time doing some explicit planning around delivering value throughout the maturation process. That way you’re not only delivering value at the end of the process when you’ve pulled together all the threads of the enterprises.

A great example of this is the accelerator program that we run on top of, Troux.  One of the things that it enables you to do is take a fixed period of time like 60, 90 or 120 days and really focus in on specific decisions that the organization wants to support. It enables you to find the information to support those decisions and pull together a representation of that information that facilitates decision making. I think that not only is this of obvious value to the organization because it helps support those decisions but it’s of value to the strategic planning or enterprise architecture organization. It helps show that there is a return on your effort for these types of organizations and that you can get value early in the process. I think this is a huge step towards getting buy in from executives in the business. That in turn is the type of thing that enables you to sustain a program so that you can get to that more mature state where you’re delivering daily value, on the basis of informing lots of small business decisions every day.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Corporate Speed Dating Anxiety

Networking Blog

I’m going to a Salesforce partner event this morning called the “Salesforce Partner Exchange for DISA” which I’m sure will be a fabulous event. They do a great job putting these things together. A lot of great information comes out of them and you get a better understanding of not just the organization in focus, but the partner community that is supporting that organization as well. All of that is great however, one of the big draws for these events is the networking aspect of it.  You’ve got a lot of different people from all the different parts of the Salesforce value chain and community including product vendors, services vendors, consultancies, other customers, and just a whole slew of different types of people that are engaged around this type of event.  For a lot of people that’s a big draw, myself included.  You want to meet other people that are a part of the community and see how they fit in, see how what they are doing dovetails with what you are doing, are there any synergies and so on and so forth.

In these types of events, a lot of times I feel a little bit uncomfortable. It feels a little bit like I’m speed dating people.  You go in and you meet this person, you have a 3 to 5 minute conversation with them, and then you move on to the next person. It all just feels a little bit artificial. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is but I often feel a little bit put off by the personal interaction in those circumstances. I mean I’ve met a lot of great people at these types of event. I’ve met people who have over time really become integral parts of my business and close personal friends but it hasn’t ever felt very natural to me. So all in all I always have a little bit of dread of going to these things. I feel kind of uncomfortable because I’m not a naturally outgoing person in the sense of meeting new people.  I talk to people that I’ve know for a while to the point where they’re almost all searching for ways to get me to shut up but it’s hard for me to go into something like that and meet people that I haven’t met before.

As I was thinking about all that this morning, I realized that everyone’s in the same boat at these events. So there shouldn’t be a feeling of discomfort about this idea that you’re speed dating each other. My plan for today is to address that head on and essentially try to do briefer types of meets.  One of the classic mistakes I make at an event like this is I’ll meet somebody, find them really interesting, spend the next hour talking to them and probably minimize some  of the value that I could get from an event like this.

One of the points of an event like this is to expose the diversity of the community to you so that you can really expand the breadth of folks that you know. There’s always the possibility in these to meet people that can help you, that you can work together with, and that you can socialize with. Getting too locked into any particular conversation is probably counterproductive so I’m going to try to be much more concise in my meetings. I’m also really going to make an effort to do more with the time that I have in these and not be locked into my phone. Eyes on your phone is basically the universal sign for don’t talk to me.

I’d love to know how other people address this type of issue. I know it’s fairly common for those of us who aren’t natural networkers to try figure out how do I do a better job of taking advantage of these types of events and meet people that I have something in common with.  So I’m going to try to do a better job today of reaching out to people and being the first person to say how instead of just being the respondent. I’d love to know what tactics and techniques work for other people who aren’t naturally extraverted at these events.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Fundamentals of the operating model

Oeprating model August 2013 blog

I wanted to circle back around and quickly talk about operating models because I’ve recently had some questions from people. I’ve covered this territory before here, here and here, but I think giving a conceptual understanding of it might be helpful so I’d like to bring up one of my favorite books on this topic. It’s called Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution by Jeanne W. Ross and it’s an absolutely phenomenal book. If you haven’t read it you should go out and buy it. It’s a great book for anyone who is trying to understand how technology integrates with the business to support the organization.
A few chapters in is where she begins to talk about the operating model. For her, the operating model can be boiled down into the degree of integration and standardization necessary to support the business. If you think about it, it’s a really succinct way of characterizing how the technology within your organization needs to work with the business in order for the business to succeed. Organizations that have very distributed management, ones that have a lot of projects with their own ROI, businesses that are growing fast by acquisitions; all of those are examples of organizations that are probably less standardized and less integrated by design because that’s how they perform best. On the other end of the scale are businesses that are very tightly standardized and integrated. Think of very large web retailers; organizations where economy of scale is everything. They’re just fundamentally different in how they’re organized, managed, and how technology supports them and they should be recognized as such.
Too often as a planning organization within the enterprise there’s a temptation to get caught up in everything. Standardization is not always good. If you’re not careful you could end up fighting what’s best for the business in the pursuit of small incremental achievements in terms of savings or other types of efficiencies that don’t really add to the business as a whole. The same can be said on the other side where organizations can, by virtue of not investing in planning for integration and standardization, miss out on opportunities in the name of saving dollars. In pursuit of the savings part of their planning effort they never realize the types of efficiencies that they’ll need to be successful in the marketplace. So that’s a very fundamental sort of talk about how the operating model concept works. I’ve just covered the two extremes of the four square model. I talked about the diversification model and the unification model. I didn’t talk about the two other quadrants, but I’ll cover them soon.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.