How State and Local Government Contractor AIR is Adapting to Change

Posted by Nick Schiffler on December 1, 2021

Costpoint 8 is Here

Deltek’s 14th annual customer conference, Deltek Insight, featured experts delivering hundreds of sessions focused on Deltek solutions, technology innovation and transformation trends. Included among those experts were a number of business professionals whose businesses are excelling in the government contracting space with the help of GovWin IQ, Deltek’s market intelligence platform.

One of those experts is Greg Wilska, Manager, Market & Competitive Intelligence, American Institutes for Research (AIR), who spoke on a panel of state and local government contracting professionals. Below is a summary of that conversation.

Deltek: Tell us a little bit about your company and your role.

Greg Wilska: We’re a social science consulting firm, we work a lot with education and health markets so we’ve been pretty busy in the last 18 months with our kind of work. My responsibility is supporting senior leaders in the company and supporting strategy, both with what’s happening in the market and what’s happening with our competitors.

Deltek: What are some of the recent changes in the past year and a half, specific to business development, which your company has dealt with?

Wilska: The notion of remoteness and dialing in Zoom and all that, in a lot of way, has been beneficial for us. We’ve seen a lot more senior level stakeholder engagement within our BD conversations. Captures, opportunities and especially things that are our “must-win’s”, defending the core as we call it. There’s more time and it’s easier for a leader to have 20 minutes with the capture team when they’re on zoom. That’s just internal operations where it’s been beneficial. But we’ve seen a lot of new opportunities. We focus a lot on healthcare and those opportunities are in the news all the time, state and local in particular, especially on the public education side. There has been a dramatic uptick in what’s available, not just for us but for all organizations. Now those things need to be vetted, and we’ve done that by getting people together across the coast on Zoom calls. That increased engagement has been quite beneficial - despite that we probably wouldn’t continue to do that forever - but it’s worked well for us.

Deltek: Is there anything you’d define as a best practice, something you’ve done particularly well that you can continue doing?

Wilska: There’s an element of deformalizing processes. Something came up yesterday where we had done an incredibly large analysis of this opportunity with a federal agency, and it was one of those things where we said, we’re done with that. And then the RFP came out and we said, let’s have a couple of smaller conversations, let’s get on Zoom, whatever the format. The advice I would have is not to expect that if we can’t get all 18 members of the capture team in the room, that we won’t have the meeting. We can have it with five, and have the conversation evolve from that. With that RFP, we were able to make quick work of that in a way, in the sense that not everybody had to be involved, and those that did would adjust what we had and move forward.

Deltek: Do you have any advice to other businesses getting into this market for the first time on how to start, where to go first, and where to put your energy in terms of business development?

Wilska: There’s a really unique opportunity in terms of BD right now. What I would say is that, especially in SLED markets, it’s breaking down the borders of geography. If you’re an organization that focuses on the southeast region or the west region or wherever it may be, and you’re looking to expand, you need to attend more things. With most things being remote, there’s also more opportunity to attend events and roundtables, to get a lay of the land of what it’s like somewhere else. The point is, in 2019 there never would have been opportunities to deploy someone for a two-hour meeting across the country in a particular state or in a capitol city, or even to the larger school districts - there have been some virtual industry days for LAUSD and some of the other ones. Those are the kinds of things to jump on now, because we’re not always going to have those opportunities, especially for small businesses. I think one of the things is that it puts everyone on a level playing field. Everyone’s available through the same chat mechanism or the same breakout rooms, so take advantage of that.

My second bit of advice is around funding. States are starting to categorize and organize COVID funding, and I’m not just talking about medical, but the long-term things. A lot of things are going to change and there’s a lot of funding reshaping things, especially in school districts and cities where people’s lives are trying to get back to normal. There’s a lot of places where it is specifically brought to you, so take advantage of that. And the third is, use this time to lay the foundation for the after-times. If your capability statements are at little bit lacking, update them now. If you are going to start looking at pricing data to change your labor rates, start doing that now. A lot of partner conversations can start right now. We’re all in the same boat here, so let’s have some coffee together and talk about potential partnering.

Curious how companies like AIR are using GovWin IQ to find government contracting partners and win more bids and RFPs? Click the link below to see for yourself.


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