Using your knowledge network to win federal contracts

By admin | 12 May 2020
Mark Johnson
Washington, DC, United States (U.S)

An expert in small business entrepreneurship and business transformation

Mark Johnson is a seasoned entrepreneur who leverages his thirty years of commercial and federal business experience to help small businesses achieve ...

If you missed it, fear not, our webinar on how to boost your pWin, entitled “How to use your knowledge network to win federal contracts” is now available as a recording. And if an hour-long webinar is not your thing, read below for some of the highlights. 

Panelists

Mark Johnson, Founder of Catapult Growth Partners — 40 years of commercial and federal business experience.

Troy Wray, Principal & Director of Operations, Washington Business Dynamics — a Veteran-owned consulting firm serving multiple federal agencies.

Brian Caouette, Founder & CEO at OnFrontiers — Knowledge networks for distributed businesses.

What we mean when we say “knowledge network”

A company’s knowledge network is their community of contributors who help complete the company’s mission in an on-demand capacity. It can include consultants, employees, industry contacts, board, and advisors. Your knowledge network extends the boundaries of what any company considers their “HR.” 

“OnFrontiers was created to help companies source, retain, and engage with their knowledge network,” says OnFrontiers CEO Brian Caouette. “We’ve been fortunate to have more than 100 customers now adopt our product, and have helped those customers achieve very meaningful results. This is especially true in the federal space where we’ve served a range of businesses from small and medium-size enterprises to top 100 contractors.”

Now customers not only get the experts they need in a pinch, but they have a platform to build IP for their businesses through trusted relationships at the enterprise level.

How knowledge networks affect all four drivers of pWin

“We can argue what the appropriate elements are to influence Pwin, but in my opinion, it comes down to four things,” says Mark Johnson. “One is knowing your customer. Do you know the decision makers of your customer? Have you met them? Have you presented your firm’s value proposition to the customer? Do you understand their mission and their challenges? The second is competition. Do you know who you’re competing against? Do you know the solutions they’re bidding? Do you have the insight into their team? Do you understand your strengths and weaknesses versus the competitive field? Third is your capabilities. Have you discussed your approach with your client? Do you know their preferences? Have you vetted your personnel with them? And lastly on price, are you delivering the best value for the best price? Do you understand the threshold that is acceptable to the client?” 

People are your greatest asset

“The bottom line to me is the single most important factor of your company’s ability to differentiate your bid is people,” says Johnson. “You need an expert who knows the agency, who knows the customer, who knows their challenges, who knows their visions, and who knows their preferences. The larger firms hire these people or they pay top tier firms for an expert at an exorbitant hourly rate. But even the larger firms are challenged by employees who leave. And when an employee leaves the knowledge network typically leaves with them.”

“What would you pay to talk to an expert who’s not just a former contracting officer but the former CO who led the procurement of the same opportunity you’re working on? How about a former industry executive who knows the client and knows their challenges? And how about a good proposal writer, someone with expertise writing winning proposals at a certain agency? These are all real scenarios where we were able to find that exact person for opportunities we were pursuing for our clients.”

How WBD uses its knowledge network to boost their win rate

“I think the challenge that we have is not trying to grow too quickly,” says Troy Wray, Principal & Director of Operations, Washington Business Dynamics. “But also looking at continuing to develop customer intimacy, understanding the competitive landscape better, and continuing to remain competitive on price while building those capabilities. The sustainability of all of this effort is going to be largely on creating intellectual property, which for us is going to be coming through our knowledge network.”

The OnFrontiers platform has helped WBD in all of these areas, and Wray says the company is fast-becoming power-users of the product. “We’ve really made great use of OnFrontiers and the knowledge platform that it’s provided,” says Wray. “And it’s really quite simple for us to use. We often make requests to either source talent or to identify or ask questions that we need further investigation on. As a small firm we were probably a little bit disadvantaged in terms of having in-house knowledge and capabilities. Now we’re able to ask questions around what are the client preferences, including everything from the talent to questions about what the client is willing to pay for this service? Sometimes that’s important to know. And as we continue to use the platform and identify experts, those experts become available to us over time. So we’re really building a network that we can reach back to for ongoing opportunities and for future opportunities.” 

The results: More buy-ins for WBD

“We’ve seen some additional activity through buy-ins of our current private sector engagement projects that I think are in large part due to the fact that we can demonstrate value and ability to cater to different needs,” says Wray. 

“Equally importantly for us as a firm, we’re able to take on additional opportunities every year. As a small firm, we might not be able to bid on every potential thing that we’re interested in, we can turn some of that from maybe one or two a month to something much larger than that, thanks to the use of OnFrontiers and ability to find talent.”

Learn more about how to use OnFrontiers to build your on-demand knowledge network

Want to learn more about how to create your own knowledge network with OnFrontiers and boost your pWin? Email sales@onfrontiers.com, or view the entire webinar

An expert in small business entrepreneurship and business transformation
Washington, DC, United States (U.S)
Co-Owner, Housewives in the City

Mark Johnson is a seasoned entrepreneur who leverages his thirty years of commercial and federal business experience to help small businesses achieve success. Mr. Johnson began his career at General Electric where he developing strong accounting and financial management expertise. He then managed large complex global IT programs for Fortune 500 companies and ultimately achieved the level of Partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 2000, he transferred to the Federal practice where he brought global best practices to the Federal market. Several years after IBM acquired PwC (2002), Mr. Johnson was appointed Vice President managing a large practice in the Federal market. Throughout his career he has helped transform business and government through technology. In 2010, Mr. Johnson started 3A Broker Services. Through 3A Broker Services Mr. Johnson focuses on providing small businesses the tools and expertise they need to accelerate their business growth and achieve their dreams. Through 3A, Mr. Johnson and his Partners have advised dozens of small businesses on market trends, business strategy and achieving revenue growth. He is currently supporting WOSB, VOSB, SDVOSB, Hub Zone and 8(a) certified clients in the Federal market place and also has several Social Media clients. Most recently Mr. Johnson launched Team To Win, the premier source for prime contractors to identify experienced based small and disadvantaged business teaming partners in the Federal market.