An interview with April Horsley, Business Development Manager, Sealaska Corporation
Summary: Sealaska is an Alaska Native Corporation representing the rich heritage of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people. With eight different subsidiaries doing work in construction, data management, IT, environmental remediation, environmental consulting services, marine science, and engineering, Sealaska turned to Deltek’s GovWin IQ to more effectively secure business across the federal government.
Q: What are some of the benefits Sealaska has realized by using Deltek?
April Horsley: Sealaska uses Deltek’s GovWin IQ — the database, the capture management piece, and the analytics program. At a high level, it helps us find new opportunities, assess the market, understand the buyers and the competition, and identify teaming partners. With Deltek we are able to get ahead of opportunities and be far more prepared to respond before they’re released to the public. Deltek enables us to do a deep-dive analysis of our competition, and learn about agency spending trends.
With all that information, we are absolutely winning more business. Deltek also helps us expand the types of clients and agencies we work with — we’re working with more agencies than ever before.
We’re also saving time. We have a search set up in our Deltek solution that automatically sends us information on the opportunities that are a good fit for us. Our general managers are now able to spend more time on projects and strategy; they are not wasting time searching for opportunities. Deltek has streamlined our entire process for finding and winning new business.
Deltek also gives us the ability to do labor rate analysis to price our labor rates competitively. We’re able to see whether we’re close to the government estimated rate of a particular labor category and also get visibility into what other contractor rates are so that we can assess whether our rates are in the ballpark or way too high.
We’re also able to look at federal spending trends, as well as specific agency spending trends — to see where agencies are spending their money — and on which products and services. Deltek has also helped us with market assessment to define the markets we want to get into and to identify those that may not be a good fit. For instance, it helps us decide whether we should consider engineering as opposed to remediation or civil construction as opposed to commercial construction. The kind of information Deltek provides has been invaluable to our planning processes.
Sealaska Wins More Business with GovWin IQ from Deltek
Q: Do you use Deltek to find teaming partners for opportunities?
April Horsley: Yes. In fact, if we’re looking at a particular opportunity we look at other companies that may have done work for that agency or in that location. The real value comes from the depth of information we can get from Deltek.
For example, quite often a company will list lots of clients and projects on their website. But when you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that they aren’t the prime contractor; they may be a subcontractor — or even a low-tiered subcontractor. It’s completely legitimate to do this, but depending on the solicitation it might be difficult to draw on that past performance within a proposal. So, when we’re considering potential partner companies we are able to look them up in Deltek and see their prime awards that we can use in our proposal. If they don't have a significant amount of federal work we may choose to team with somebody else.
That depth of information helps us build a more solid team and fill in any capability gaps we may have. We use the information the system provides to analyze our competition in a similar way. It helps us position our team and proposal more effectively against other bidders.
Q: Can you provide an example of a contract you won as a result of being a Deltek customer?
April Horsley: Yes! We had a potential environmental consulting opportunity with the US Army. Our team was new; we were a new 8(a) and weren’t sure we had the past performance to pursue it. We heard it was a recompete, so we used Deltek to see what the previous opportunity looked like. We learned a lot.
First, we learned that the previous contract value was $5 million. We also learned there had been two awardees — but each had only received a little over $100,000 over the course of a five-year contract. At that point, we weren’t sure we should spend the money to build a proposal for such a small contract. So, we kept digging.
The Army had issued a Sources Sought, which had already closed, but gave us a window to talk to the agency — and that’s what we did. We talked to the stakeholders and learned that the scope had changed, and that the value of the contract was actually going to increase. We also discovered that the project involved environmental work, which interested us as it was an area we were getting into.
So, in a nutshell, we took the information that we got from Deltek, spring boarded that into a meeting with the stakeholders, developed and built our team, and ultimately won the work. It turned out to be a $9.9 million contract. But there’s more to the story. It was an IDIQ (indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity), and after it was awarded we got approval to market the contract to other districts within that division of the Army. Two other districts have used it so far, which has increased the amount and types of work that we're getting from that one contract, and helping us grow our business.
About April Horsley
As Business Development Manager for Sealaska Government Services, April Horsley supports Sealaska’s subsidiary companies with research and analysis, new business initiatives and process improvement. She has over twenty years of project management experience that includes estimating, planning, Federal and State Proposal Management, quality assurance and procurement. For more information on Sealaska visit www.sealaska.com.
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