Trading Places: How Does Industry Do Business Differently Than Govies?

Home Forums Acquisitions Trading Places: How Does Industry Do Business Differently Than Govies?

This topic contains 7 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Keith Moore 5 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #154779

    Jaime Gracia
    Participant

    I had some interesting feedback from some young acquisition professionals recently, discussing “growing pains” in being a new 1102 and to the federal workforce.

    One of the common themes was about interactions with industry, specifically with how to effectively conduct market research and what information was needed from industry.

    Along these lines, many 1102s, especially less seasoned ones, have difficulties understanding industry operations and how their way of doing business is different than the federal government.

    Certainly one big difference is shareholders versus taxpayers, but ultimately both are supporting the same mission. Knowing how industry functions can help the acquisition workforce understand the issues faced by industry, and how this better understanding can lead to better managed programs and requirements that save time and money.

    Questions:

    1. What training programs or courses have you taken that effectively teach you how industry functions?
    2. What information would be helpful to know about how industry functions to better perform your jobs?
    3. What impediments do you face in regards to industry interactions?
    4. If you were Acquisition King or Queen, what would you change to help educate the acquisition workforce on how industry functions?




  • #154793

    Keith Moore
    Participant

    Jamie.Young acquisition workers represent “A whole New Mind”

    Thanks for the line of questions to Open Up-an invaluable discussion for our time. OGTV will take opportunity to gather a collection of thoughts stemmed from your question- I recall Andrew months ago asked why Gov Loopers seem to be blogging less. Systemic change needs to occur at the acquisition level, and for industry (those who pursue contracts) we are not able to afford to volunteer time, and invaluable experience without compensation. But your topic and questions allude to the reality that there indeed is a general disconnect between industry and government (especially small business). Hopefully your questions will reinvigorate a discussion that could result in building a much needed bridge.

    We’ll post as well the questions on our facebook and Linked in page.

    http://www.opengovtv.com

  • #154791

    Jaime Gracia
    Participant

    Thanks for the input Keith.

  • #154789

    Patrick A Reilly
    Participant
    1. What training programs or courses have you taken that effectively teach you how industry functions?
    While the requirement for Business Degree or 24 hours ensures that 1102’s have at least some formal Business Education, it by itself doesn’t completely prepare you to know how industry functions. Nothing like some OJT in an actual business outside of Government where you actually compete on a daily basis to grow or even just keep your job. This provides the laser focus on what is important to industry and its generally around efficiency, effectiveness or outstanding customer service. It’s amazing how foreign these basic concepts are to folks who have never held a job outside of Government.
    2. What information would be helpful to know about how industry functions to better perform your jobs?

    It is helpful to know what are the drivers to success in a particular industry or firm. Some firms or industry are, as you mentioned driven by shareholder expectation and short term gains while others are driven by long term growth and relationship building. Understanding a firms driver will set the tone of negotiations and agreements. Successful relationships and agreements can be forged with most any firms if you understand their drivers and you find common ground to build agreements around. Often Govt. folks are very self focused, and so regulatory driven that they lack the empathy required to execute healthy agreements. Relying on force of contact alone is a painful way to compliance and completion.
    3. What impediments do you face in regards to industry interactions?
    Time and Planning. Often times the procurement staff is mistrusted and not brought into the discussion until the requirements development process is well down the road. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are program and procurement folks out there that work well together regularly, however this is not always the case. For many reasons (some self inflicted) procurement is seen by Program folks as a necessary evil and they wait till the last minute to send over a procurement package and suggested source after they have spent months working behind the scenes to develop the scope. We as acquisition professionals need to find a way to build the confidence of our Program partners through competent business counsel and providing solution along with every regulatory hurdle we point out. There are many reasons why the Federal Procurement Process is good for projects, we need to work to make that case everyday.
    4. If you were Acquisition King or Queen, what would you change to help educate the acquisition workforce on how industry functions?

    What is it Nordstrom does “….Hire the smile train the salesman”. Procurement programs need to start at the hiring process (good luck with your HR folks) and bring people in who truly have some business acumen, traits of a business professional (a smile is nice) and a burning desire to make the business of Government better. Then provide a structured learning program that combines training with actual experience. And when they have the opportunity to work on a contract or with a contractor, ask them to take the time to learn a little more about the contractor, their business and their industry. None of this can happen without leadership deciding it important and getting front line supervisors on board.
    ….at least that’s my take….
  • #154787

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    Love that Nordstrom line.

    Would be useful if acquisition professionals could easily get a 6 to 12 month detail where they worked on other side of procurements – I think would help understand the full cycle

  • #154785

    Jaime Gracia
    Participant

    Thanks for the great feedback @Patrick. One of the best programs that I saw was when I was working with LMI, where they had an exchange program with government agencies to “swap” personnel. It was really an eye-opening experience for the government person, who normally was an active duty officer assigned a particular management/technical role (i.e. Systems Engineer, Acquisition, PM, etc.).

    I have found in my experience that 1102s who have been performing only federal work, with no break to work in industry, are usually the worst at trying to understand, sympathize, and really appreciate the challenges and difficulties commercial firms have with government contracting (especially small businesses). These are also the ones that practice “closed door policies” and refuse to provide any substantive information or transparency, thus defeating the purpose of collaboration, open communications, and robbing their organizations of the opportunities to improve requirements development, innovation, and cost-savings.

    Nothing is more satisfying than to talk to a retired 1102 who thinks that this side of the fence is so much easier, only to find out the hard way that the grass is not so green. It is that appreciation and understanding that would go a long way to help each side understand the other so much better.

  • #154783

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    Best experience I ever had as a fed for this issue was the ACT-IAC Voyagers program. And it wasn’t any specific training but I had mentors and peers from program in industry that I asked a lot of questions about how industry worked. I think that’s a key piece to it – finding people that are curious to learn the multiple sides of acquisition and the industry viewpoint and creating safe places to ask those questions.

  • #154781

    Jaime Gracia
    Participant

    The ACT IAC Voyagers may the best program out there for these types of interactions amongst industry and government personnel. The ACT-IAC Voyagers Program is a leadership development program for “rising stars” in both government and industry who have a high potential for future advancement. The objective of the program is to prepare mid-level managers for their future roles in industry and government. Each prospective program participant must be nominated by his or her respective company or agency sponsor, complete an application, and be selected for the program by a panel of senior executives from government and industry.

    For more information, visit:http://www.actgov.org/education/Voyagers/Pages/default.aspx?Site=act

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