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Aligning to GSA's Lines of Business (07-13-2006)

Our recent missive on preparing for the Lines of Business (LoB) evolution/revolution evoked enough interest to spawn this follow up piece.
As you probably know, in response to OMB and Centers of Excellence prodding, GSA has defined nine vertical LoBs designed to rationalize key government functional activities such as case management, financial management, and so forth. At first glance these one-dimensional LoBs seem to make sense, but do they really? Could they be too simplistic? Are these LoBs an end-run on the traditional IT contractors by the well-heeled C-level consulting outfits? Will the agency dogs eat the GSA dog food?
The mainstream contractor community's traditional offerings align poorly with GSA's one-dimensional LoBs. This is because industry, for the most part, has been developing and perfecting the horizontal enabling technology piece-parts, such as help desk, that are the building blocks of each GSA vertical LoB. It seems to us that if the GSA LoBs are to be useful bridges between customer agencies and the contractor community, these LoBs should be at least two-dimensional.
Firms claiming "best of breed" status in one or more GSA vertical LoB are unlikely to also be "world class" in each of the underlying horizontal enabling technology areas. Is it GSA's intent that only those firms with the LoB subject matter qualifications be eligible as primes, while the providers of horizontal enabling services (if they are even deemed relevant to the evaluation) become subcontractors. Adding competing bid teams to the two-dimensional model, we hope GSA embraces will make bid evaluation a three-dimensional modeling problem for the government customer; this is exactly how CAI/SISCo has long been viewing the competitive situations we study from the competitive analysis and Price to Win (PTW) point of view.
By defining its set of one-dimensional LoBs, GSA has barely accomplished stating the obvious. However, in addition to the shortcomings already discussed, there is reason to believe that GSA's one-dimensional LoBs may be exclusionary. This fear exists because evaluators may over-value the desirability of a vertical LoB's functional capability while under-valueing, or even ignoring, the granular excellence at the horizontal enabling technology level. As a result, the aggregated weight of dollars and service level agreement issues are likely to reside with the horizontal enabling technologies.
Our conclusion is that GSA needs to take the next step and define two-dimensional models for their LoBs. In addition, they also need to investigate how service oriented architectures (SOAs) can be used to enable LoB capabilities that are more economical to implement, more useful and less stove-piped.
We are confident that GSA will maintain their relevance by taking these steps and, in the process, create a new competitive paradigm for the ever-evolving IT services industry.
Good luck and happy hunting!
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