McConnell International supports our clients' success, which is measured not only by large contract awards, but also by incremental growth, renewals, obstacles avoided, and enhanced reputation among government decision-makers.
At MI, we use our combined experience in congressional appropriations, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) procedures, and federal departmental management to identify opportunities for our clients — sometimes before the government agency has identified the need itself. Assisting our clients in the pursuit of these opportunities is key to our business.
We tailor the roles we play on our clients' teams to meet their specific needs. You can find these various roles highlighted in the case studies that follow.
Stabilizing Revenue Streams
For years, an MI client had been unsuccessfully trying to secure long-term funding for its products and service offerings that were used by a regulatory agency. Even though the client's products supported three of the most mission-critical programs in the agency, the agency yearly employed a "pass-the-hat" funding approach among headquarters and regional users of our client's services. This created great uncertainty in our client's revenue stream from year to year.
To solve this problem, MI:
- Developed with our client a funding strategy that would move funding from the agency's annual appropriations process to their more stable Working Capital Fund (WCF).
- Helped our client develop a fact-based business case for the agency, with all the important touch points.
- Coached them on how to make a compelling case for including their contract vehicles in the agency's Working Capital Fund.
The agency's WCF Board Members accepted our client's proposal. It was the first time since 1998 that the agency included new services in the WCF. This win stabilized our client's revenue stream and positioned them for additional revenue growth in that agency.
Unlocking a Business Opportunity
One MI client was concerned that an agency's acquisition strategy for wireless communication services was so restrictive that it would lock the firm out of competition. Our client strongly believed that an open architecture approach using commercial off-the-shelf technologies would best serve the agency. We agreed and, at our client's request, MI:
- Prepared a white paper analyzing the various industry offerings against the government's mission needs and technology trends.
- Presented the white paper and its arguments to senior agency and OMB officials.
The credibility of the MI organization and the strength of our research convinced the program office to open up the acquisition strategy to a broader range of competitive solutions that included our client's approach.
Expanding on a Solid Reputation
Our clients often believe that winning one contract in a department smoothes the way for an easy expansion. In reality, different bureaus and services within a department have their own cultures, mission needs, and acquisition practices. One of our clients, for example, enjoyed a good reputation providing IT support services for an office within a department. When the client sought our help to expand to another bureau, MI:
- Knew that the targeted bureau was conservative in its acquisitions and uncomfortable with unknown vendors.
- Arranged for a meeting with the bureau director's chief of staff.
- Helped our client prepare briefing material with an emphasis on the success of existing and prior work.
- Coached the client on the best presentation style for the chief of staff, then accompanied the client to the meeting.
A multi-million dollar award followed shortly.
Performing Peerlessly on Government Assignments
We not only help clients win new work, we assist them in successfully performing on the resulting contracts. One MI client was involved in a program that required changes in government employees' jobs. The entire program was at risk because of resistance from the workers and their union.
Through meetings with agency management and staff, MI realized the client needed an "ombudsman" on its staff. We identified a former agency executive whose strong credibility with the agency would appropriately moderate union concern and mitigate opposition to the program.
Our client made our recommended hire, averting resistance and achieving a successful program.
Penetrating New Agencies
An MI client was interested in an opportunity at a civilian agency it had never before approached. A "win" was critical because it would position the company in a new role across government as a business solutions partner. MI immediately worked to:
- Provide early intelligence that included knowledge about unique user requirements, key decision-maker preferences, and likely competitor strategies.
- Determine, through our network of congressional contacts, that Congress had already approved the funding designated for the programs.
- Help shape the proposal's themes to reflect the agency's unspoken needs and concerns.
- Provide extensive executive coaching to sharpen our client's focus and oral presentation skills.
Our client won the $10 million program, which is now being replicated in other agencies.
An MI client had, in the past, secured a department-wide software license, but major agencies within the department were bypassing the license and going to competitors instead. Our client sensed a "bad feeling" on the part of department executives whom it believed were intentionally not promoting the product.
The client asked MI to get involved. After determining that key departmental personnel did indeed believe that the license was no longer in the government's interest, we arranged and attended a meeting between our client and a senior department executive.
As a result, the license fees were renegotiated to the satisfaction of all parties, and a serious roadblock to the client's growth in the department was removed.
Clearing the Path
A client requested MI's advice in answering a "Buy America" tactic used by a competitor to our client's disadvantage. MI helped by:
- Providing legal research on the Buy America legislation, which revealed that the competitor had no legal basis for its claims.
- Strategizing with the client on how to correct the misperceptions of potential government customers, including showing them how the White House was using our client's equipment.
- Identifying external legal counsel who could help our client establish a separate U.S.-based board of directors — another effective strategy in countering misperceptions.
Our client now has a level playing field for marketing to agencies and can focus its message on performance and cost savings instead of a false issue.
Pursuing Renewals Vigorously
An MI client who had been an agency's sole source provider of global business information for 25 years was in jeopardy of losing a contract renewal for its product. Agency decision-makers had lost sight of the product's value and its potential for solving evolving mission needs.
MI led our client in a multifaceted renewal strategy in which we:
- Helped facilitate educational sessions for agency users of the client's global information database. The sessions assured the agency that the information provided was accurate, timely, and supportive of mission.
- Employed our understanding of the agency's mission to help create an executive overview for the agency's political appointees and senior career leadership who were critical to the funding approval process.
- Determined that our client's products could provide additional support to the agency and worked to create a demonstration of these capabilities.
- Arranged and participated in meetings that convinced the right agency officials of our client's ability to help them be trailblazers in conducting business electronically with private sector and government partners.
Our client's contract was renewed with a significant revenue increase and the ground was prepared for further growth within the agency.
Unveiling New Products
A client with an existing presence in the federal market had a new technology that could significantly increase revenue, but the company needed a high-impact means of making the federal community aware of these expanded capabilities.
MI is tapped into the best marketing opportunities and knew that the FOSE conference was inviting companies with new technology products to submit applications for awards to be presented at the conference. FOSE is a major government IT event that attracts 17-19,000 attendees from government agencies and the local integrator community. We convinced our client to apply for the award and worked closely with the government affairs director to prepare and submit an impressive application.
The product was a finalist for the "Best New Technology" award, offering our client important visibility and a new centerpiece for a targeted marketing effort aimed at the government sector.
Following the Money
MI's unique understanding of how money flows in government significantly benefits our clients. For example, OMB directed government agencies to implement a plan to complete Certification and Accreditation (C&A) of their information technology systems. MI had been closely monitoring this development and quickly realized that C&A needs could be a good opportunity for one of our smaller clients. We notified the firm immediately and with this "jump" on the competition, our client started developing expertise in C&A standards and procedures.
When OMB instructed one federal agency to complete C&A reviews of 50 major systems within six months, we arranged and participated in meetings with our client and the departmental manager for the C&A project. Our client was fully prepared to demonstrate its expertise and ability to move quickly on the C&A requirement. The agency asked our client to submit a management plan for completing C&A of 300 major systems. We helped by reviewing, editing, and "red teaming" the proposed plan.
The department readily accepted the plan and tasked our client with the lead technical responsibilities. This opportunity has evolved into a $3 million project for our small business client.
Breaking into the Federal Marketplace
A large, commercially established information company wanted to become a serious player in the federal government marketplace. MI performed an extensive market analysis and recommended that our client:
- Target the agencies whose needs we identified as a match for the client's products.
- Make product changes to better align products with government needs.
- Organize the government marketing force to better pursue opportunities.
- Participate in marketing events and organizations that MI identified as key.
- Approve the investment level recommended by MI as necessary for success.
Bruce McConnell met with the CEO to explain the opportunities and challenges of the government market, and MI consultants worked closely with the company's marketing vice president to prepare an internal business case for becoming a player in the federal arena.
The CEO subsequently allocated significant funding to pursue this new market. With MI's guidance and support, our client put the jointly developed strategic plan into action and is exceeding their revenue goals.
Filling Executive Gaps
MI understands that a successful placement meets the needs of both the hiring organization and the candidate. We work with both parties to ensure these needs are jointly understood and met.
A large systems integrator needed a Program Manager to lead their strategic campaign for growth in a large cabinet agency, including the pursuit for a major new initiative.
MI identified the ideal candidate — one with both prior experience in that agency and with leading a similar, large-scale procurement. We interested the potential candidate, who was not looking for a change, in the position. The client was delighted with the caliber, professionalism, and agency-specific knowledge of the candidate, whom they hired.
A rapidly-growing mid-tier client needed a corporate executive to influence its strategic direction and significantly grow its presence in the federal market. MI assisted in determining that a Chief Technology Officer would best meet the client's requirements and helped define the position. MI identified and recruited a senior level government executive who matched the needs of the client and was considering moving to industry. MI assisted in the development and negotiation of the compensation package and coached both parties to ensure expectations were realistic and mutually understood.
One of our clients had a critical need for a Contracts Specialist, a job category in great demand and short supply. MI identified a top notch candidate with the precise level of experience and contacts desired by the client, but who had several attractive job offers on the table. MI worked with our client to make a competitive offer and then sold our client's offer successfully to the candidate.
MI was invited to offer candidates for a Federal agency CIO position. MI identified a qualified candidate and interested them in the position. MI provided background information to the Federal agency, who subsequently hired the candidate.
Preparing Winning Proposals
Our client was an 8-A graduate who needed to win new competitive contracts as a mid-tier company. MI convinced the client's executives to bid on a very competitive, major procurement and coached the client throughout the proposal process. Consequently, the client was one of five awardees of the Independent Verification and Validation Services (IV&V) track.
Initially, our client made a no-bid decision on the opportunity, believing that they had little chance of success as a mid-tier company in this large open competition. MI determined, through our market research, pre-competition intelligence, and unique network of contacts that our client had an excellent reputation among key decision makers in the agency and that our client would be very competitive in capturing a slot to provide IV&V services — the key core competency on which our client launched its presence in the federal market place several years ago. At MI's urging, our client reversed their no-bid decision and responded to the RFP.
MI was our clients "win coach" throughout the proposal life cycle by:
- Developing win strategies and win themes with our client
- Suggesting teaming and competitive cost approaches
- Providing a profound understanding of the government buyer's real needs and hot buttons
- Ensuring the vocabulary used in the proposal was buyer-friendly
- Coaching the oral presenters so they could anticipate and have answers for key questions that the buyers can relate to and understand
- Supporting the development of their written and oral proposals
- Participating in their red, blue and gold teams to sharpen the win themes and focus attention in their written proposal on the issues most significant to the agency's key decision makers.
Post-award, MI is aggressively following through to help our client capture task order wins under the newly won contract.
Winning Major Opportunities
A system integrator sought and won the award for a large, highly competitive, financial management system that will be deployed across a complex governmental department. MI contributed by:
- Using contacts in key bureaus within the department and at OMB to assess our client's reputation.
- Developing a positioning strategy that presented our client as the experienced, highly ethical, leader in government financial systems.
- Supporting the strategy by arraying the right meetings and coaching our client on conveying the right messages.
- Providing insights about the crucial role of the CIO office in the proposal process.
- Comprehensively monitoring and evaluating funding and acquisition issues at both the congressional and departmental level.
Our client won the contract, after which MI helped steer the department around a potential conflict with the congressional appropriations process that would have significantly delayed project start and long-term funding.