OnFrontiers is helping Bland & Associates build intelligence and achieve scale

“Whether you look at our bench strength, knowledge network, or our digital capabilities, OnFrontiers has helped us grow.”

– Garrett Gilbert, Senior Director of Strategy


Bland & Associates P.C. is an accounting, auditing, and consulting firm specializing in assurance, tax, strategic planning, and auditing for businesses, individuals, local and Federal Governments. Bland’s engagement with the US Government started in the 90s mostly in an auditing capacity, which has grown into compliance oversight, data analysis, and consulting. 

Bland is most recognized for its work with The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (the Innovation Center) within the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). For CMMI, Bland performs audit, compliance oversight, performance monitoring, and implementation for value-based care models, which involves a deep understanding of the contemporary healthcare models to better healthcare outcomes and cost of care in the country. 

We recently connected with Garrett Gilbert, Senior Director of Strategy at the firm to learn more about how this long-time federal contractor is working to remain competitive, build intelligence and achieve scale.

As a smaller federal contractor, what are some of the key challenges you face when competing for new business?

The inherent challenge with government contracting is that each year, we are pushed to perform better for cheaper. To meet that demand, we are constantly finding new ways to create value and new markets to provide our services. As a small business, we need to be very tactical about our new business pursuits, which means assessing each opportunity and questioning how it aligns with our broader mission and vision. OnFrontiers is a critical part of our process for creating an information advantage by speaking with relevant experts. 

After we thoroughly vet an opportunity and compare that information with data we gather through our competitive intelligence tools, we reach out to OnFrontiers with an Expert Request to connect with an expert who can either challenge our hypothesis or bolster it to maximize value. These conversations have led to follow-up meetings where they may review our technical proposal or make new connections that can help us refine our solution. 

Can you share an example of a time an expert has really helped shape your approach or understanding of a client?

Across the federal landscape, each agency is at a different stage in its technology transformation journey. As a result, when doing internal controls assessments, we need to be cognizant about where an agency may be on that scale of technological maturity. By pulling in different professionals into our compliance and audit teams when needed through OnFrontiers, we have managed to improve our bench strength and respond to agencies that have varying technological needs with customized solutions attuned to their infrastructure and maturity. This is essential for developing actionable corrective action planning and unlocking performance insights. Through the process of involving OnFrontiers, we often assess the history and context of a customer’s pain point. The challenge can span multiple years, and understanding the various factors enabling the issue to persist enables us to deliver effective solutions that address the root cause of the challenge. 

At a broader level, how is the company about digital transformation and automation?

We are on a digital transformation journey. Across our industry, there is a strong emphasis on robotic process automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, and we have invested in these technologies to find new ways to create value and build capabilities for our customers.  For example, by automating our sampling procedures we can algorithmically identify areas of noncompliance, moving away from human error and judgment while analyzing massive data sets. Simultaneously, we are improving our digital infrastructure, both for security and to improve the user experience. We have adopted low-code platforms, enabling our subject matter experts to automate workflows without having to learn a new computer language. This enables our subject matter experts to engage with the data throughout its lifecycle, creating new opportunities for curating insights, developing visualizations, and reducing single points of failure.

OnFrontiers has been a positive force for our digital transformation efforts, introducing us to experts who can help refine our business processes, and understand digital strategies used within our industry. This insight helps us deliver the right personnel and technology to exceed our customer’s expectations and solve complicated challenges.

Whether you look at our bench strength, knowledge network, or our digital capabilities, OnFrontiers has helped us grow. At Bland, we are committed to bringing the right personnel, technology, and solution to our customers to give them the best value, and collaborating with OnFrontiers helps us deliver on our commitment.


Private Equity Firm Builds a Global Expertise Network on OnFrontiers

New York, NY – The CrossBoundary Group is a fast-growing investment firm focused on unlocking capital to make a positive difference in developing economies.  Founded in 2011, The CrossBoundary Group now has over 45 professional staff and offices in Bamako, Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi, New York City and Washington, DC. In 2015, The CrossBoundary Group launched CrossBoundary Energy Fund I, Sub-Saharan Africa’s first investment fund for commercial and industrial solar.

When the firm’s founders set out to unlock finance for frontier markets, one thing they agreed on was the importance of a deep understanding of the real context of every transaction.  “We value expertise and the only way to obtain that is to speak with the experts. Accordingly, we have made sure to be deeply embedded within the markets we work in. Our team in Africa is over 80% African and we now have offices in Nairobi, Lagos, Bamako, and Johannesburg” said Matt Tilleard, Co-Founder and Co-Managing Partner at CrossBoundary Group. He continued by saying “this means we are often able to access expertise through our extended networks. But this process is not always the best fit, it can take a large amount of time and the results are not always predictable. We also need to be respectful of our network and the demands we place on it.”

“We found OnFrontiers to be a perfect fit to supplement and expand our access to expertise”  Tilleard continues.  “Through OnFrontiers, we have access to a highly curated selection of experts qualified on virtually any topic within 24-48 hours.  We’ve tested OnFrontiers on broad questions but also highly niche areas, such as solar systems in Bamako and warehouse solutions in Nairobi, and the results have been consistently strong.  Having this resource allows our teams to access insights in a highly efficient and frictionless way.  Ultimately, our clients benefit through better-informed analysis and recommendations provided more cost-effectively.”

Through more than a year of using OnFrontiers, CrossBoundary has embedded OnFrontiers into its workflow and has over 20 investment professionals utilizing the platform. “We are now collaborating with OnFrontiers to use the platform in more strategic ways” says Tilleard. “OnFrontiers’ enterprise solution makes it easy to build out our own expertise networks and re-engage experts who become integrated into our service – this is a quality I haven’t seen in other providers.”

The partnership with CrossBoundary has been a strong fit for OnFrontiers as well.  “CrossBoundary aligns with our core competencies of locating Experts fast across a range of sectors in Sub-Saharan Africa and in frontier markets globally,” said Anne Kroijer, Co-founder, and CSO at OnFrontiers. “From a cultural standpoint, our teams share an appreciation of the importance of leveraging and managing expertise in smarter ways.  It is also great to support the team’s growth and mission of enhancing capital flows to under-developed regions in the world.”

For further information, please contact hello@onfrontiers.com

How Chemonics Uses Knowledge Networks To Find Local Expertise While Abroad

With over $1.5 billion in USAID contracts, Chemonics is the U.S. Agency for International Development’s largest implementing partner. The international development firm is owned by its over 5000 employees in 100 countries around the world.

Here’s how their capture teams use OnFrontiers to engage the knowledge and talent they need, when they need it, to continue securing international development contracts.

The challenge: Finding local expertise to manage political dynamics and local relationships

The first time Isaiah Oliver, Director of Trade and Growth for Chemonics International, used OnFrontiers to find an expert, it was a rush job.

“We were doing some work for a supply chain program that was looking to manage the distribution of school books to schools in Honduras,” says Isaiah. “I had a very, very short turnaround — we had like 10 days or two weeks or something. The client, USAID (The US Agency for International Development) wanted us to show that we understood how to work with counterparts from The Ministry of Education and not just deliver these books on time, but also strengthen the local capacity to do so in the future.”

It was precisely the kind of challenge the OnFrontiers platform was designed to address.

The solution: OnFrontiers Knowledge Network Platform and Expert Marketplace

Faced with this challenge, Isaiah did what has become his first move whenever he is looking for expertise. He requested an expert through the OnFrontiers platform to initiate the process. Our research team conducts a search of the existing experts on the platform, then leverages known experts as referrals to expand our reach exponentially beyond our existing relationships. In tandem, the research team also uses the powerful tools, processes, and incentives that we’ve put in place to search across Linkedin, and other public and private platforms to recruit and onboard new expertise quickly for our customers.

The OnFrontiers difference is not simply the breadth of expertise of the platform, or the machine learning we use in the background to continually improve the process. The difference is that we create a context and marketplace for micro-consulting engagements to happen. Clients can immediately book consultations with the people that best match their needs. Experts, meanwhile, are incentivized to help. The model produces the right kind of results quickly and at a lower price point than traditional capture techniques.

The results: expertise and intelligence that contributed to a contract win

“OnFrontiers found somebody within 48 hours,” says Isaiah. “The expert had previously worked on book supply chain management and within the Ministry of Education and had existing relationships. That seems to me like a pretty spectacular result. It was surprising, for example, that the turnaround was that quick.”

Finding local expertise with the specific domain knowledge they were seeking helped Chemonics win the contract. To Isaiah, the process seemed exceedingly simple and solved a real need, quickly. “Okay, maybe through LinkedIn we can identify [an expert] and contact them and come to some sort of agreement with or without paying them,” says Isaiah. “But with OnFrontiers they’re already incentivized to provide really good input and help me get the information I need in such a short time frame. It is really quite remarkable. From that perspective, I really think that the service OnFrontiers provides is incredibly valuable.”

Advice for other contractors

“There’s no downside risk,” says Isaiah. “If they don’t find someone that you like you just doesn’t talk to them. I don’t know why other people aren’t doing this!”

Isaiah’s enthusiasm does not come solely from the above story, but from his prolific experience with the platform. Tasked with growth at Chemonics, Isaiah looks for efficiencies in his processes and comes back to OnFrontiers often with new searches. “Every time I come to OnFrontiers with a request, they find people who fit what I’m looking for. They exceed my expectations again and again.” In fact, at the time of this writing, Isaiah has a number of open searches on the platform for existing and future projects. OnFrontiers has become a crucial part of his capture toolkit.

Try OnFrontiers and see for yourself how we can match you with the expertise you need

Contact sales@onfrontiers.com to learn more about how to use the OnFrontiers platform to find you the expertise you need. Or if you’d like to read another case study, read about how Washington Business Dynamics used OnFrontiers to win and deliver on their first USAID contract and expand their capabilities into new areas.