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Is your firm's strategic business development planning environment this sound? (06-10-2002)

The federal marketplace for contractor services of all sorts can be thought of as a vast sports arena seating upwards of 2 million persons. Each of the sections belongs to a major governmental department, the subsections to their agencies and bureaus, and the seats to the contract help firms that the lesser agency activities hire. Superimposed on this huge array of help are the corporate logos of the incumbent contractors. For business developers, the cold, hard fact is that, within reason, no matter who occupies or employs any given seat's occupant, most every federal market contractor seat is a future opportunity for someone.
To grow their business base in the federal marketplace, even the most acquisitive contractors must maintain a robust business development pipeline, the highest level of abstraction of which is most commonly referred to as a Strategic Plan. Included in this plan will be a firm's own expiring incumbencies and new business opportunities related to present customers, existing activities, or new areas and customers.
Some years ago, CAI/SISCo used the 'Sports Arena' model of the federal government as the foundation for its Prologue offering. This now defunct product/service went a long way toward automating the development of tailored and dynamic Strategic Plans. Prologue's premise was this. If you developed a comprehensive database of awards, you would soon know a) where all the seats were, b) who the incumbent contractors and their teammates were, c) when their contracts were let, d) what business categories they covered and e) their expected value and duration, some relatively simple code could do the rest. And so it did.
Prologue would take a firm's business backlog and its erosion over time, growth rate desires, B&P budgets, win rate realities and other factors and rapidly develop a full pipeline of business opportunities. Opportunities selected would fit the desired work and revenue profiles to sustain and grow the base over a planning period of up to 10 years. Individiual opportunities could be specifically included, excluded or factored to represent subcontract engagements. Results could be rapidly regenerated in the form of publishable Strategic Plans supported with opportunity resumes and Gantt and stacked bar charts. Of course, this approach can only cover recurring opportunities, but the key is to generate customer knowledge, care and focus way in advance of each actual competition. For the 10% to 20% of a given firm's services business that is non-recurring, sources such as the INPUT, FSI or iFour databases could be tapped to augment Prologue's own database.
Even though CAI/SISCo no longer sells or supports the Prologue product outside of our company, amazingly, no product before or since has come close to providing such an assist to corporate strategic business development planners for services opportunities. Even though Prologue was subscribed to by almost 50 firms who each paid a modest annual fee for the software and over-the-internet access to our database, we discontinued the product in favor of conentrating on our core opportunity capture services. The Prologue concept, however, is still very much alive and well as is still the basis of the strategic planning tasks we perform for clients. Moreover, CAI/SISCo's databases are still maintained internally as a by-product of our business development support activities.
The Prologue is past, but the memory lingers on.
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