Want your company to be top of mind next time federal buyers are drafting their requirements? Federal procurement forecasts can lead you toward decision-makers you'll want to meet before the formal competition begins.
Business owners often ask me, "How do I connect with real decision makers much earlier in the revenue cycle?"
If you're asking that question too, congratulations: you're on the threshold of greater success. The answer always reminds me that nobody ever really wants a level playing field. You want an extremely legal, perfectly ethical advantage over at least some of your competitors in government contracting.
Can you imagine top Fortune 500 executives telling you everything they need to purchase that's worth more than $150,000, along with a list of how to contact the buyers of each item? Federal agencies do exactly that.
You've never heard federal acquisition forecasts? First, the good news: they're available for free, online, right now. Next, some bad news: the top competitors are already using those procurement forecasts to get a head start on you. But now more good news: in just a moment, you're going to know how to find and use the forecasts, and tilt the playing field back in your favor.
What's in a forecast?
Most federal acquisition forecasts list the product or service, a corresponding North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code, the approximate budget, whether or how the competition will be set aside for some kind of small business, and point of contact information, and when the agency expects to make the buy.
Each agency's forecast is presented differently. Some, like the Department of Interior and Department of Justice, offer theirs in files you can download. Others, like the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the General Services Administration have created databases to make your search easier.
You can find those forecasts at http://acquisition.gov/comp/procurement_forecasts/index.html.
Here's how to start. First, focus on agencies whose missions and needs are most like your current top clients today. Second, search for the acquisitions that are most similar in scope, value and location to the kind of contracts you already do well today.
Then sort through the expected competition dates. If you don't know the buyer or are new to that agency, you'll need more lead time to build your relationship with the buyer.
Finally, remember that forecast data isn't perfect, and is updated often. Just because something's in a forecast doesn't guarantee that the acquisition will take place. But now you have a point of contact who can tell you more, get to know you better, and help you close in on your competition.
© 2012 — Washington Business Journal. Used by permission. Refreshed 2013.