Managing a large federal contract can be a challenging experience, but it can also be extremely rewarding if you deliver results. The Hannon Group has successfully managed multiple, large federal contracts and, as a result, our management team has gained a thorough understanding of the requirements for delivering excellent performance on large contracts.
While there will always a be unexpected issues that pop up, the following five strategies will enable your organization to effectively administer large government contracts:
1. Make Sure that Staff are a Great Fit
In my mind, staff quality is the primary factor in determining whether a contract will be successful or not. Staff must be technically qualified and also have a good rapport with clients. Because the quality of the team is so crucial to success, contract managers should ensure that they are hiring the best possible employees for each position.
At The Hannon Group, we take the hiring process very seriously. Many of our contracts support technical sectors such as health and energy, so we need staff who have previously worked in those industries. As a result, we actively recruit many of our staff, as opposed to just placing ads and waiting for resumes. By actively recruiting staff, we have been able to find candidates with the appropriate technical skills AND industry background. As a bonus, recruiting using LinkedIn is actually a lot cheaper than placing an ad on the platform.
2. Provide Excellent Customer Service
Another requirement for achieving customer satisfaction is providing excellent customer service. This includes being courteous to clients, responding as quickly as possible, providing accurate and appropriate information in response to requests, and proactively providing updates and other information that clients may need.
While being courteous and providing the correct information is expected, many clients are not used to receiving a quick response to emails or calls and are pleasantly surprised when they immediately hear back. I’ve been thanked many times for my quick response, which actually always surprises me a bit, since it suggests that other contractors are not that responsive.
Federal clients also appreciate when contractors are proactive in providing status updates and other useful information, as clients are very busy and don’t have the time to make the request. Further, giving clients a heads up on potential issues can also help mitigate or avoid future problems.
3. Pay Attention to Detail
If you’re in charge of a large contract, you’re going to be managing considerable amounts of information, including funding and invoicing amounts, hours and ODC costs, as well as contract numbers and dates. This data must be accurate, as errors could result in overspending, incorrect billing, and other issues that could significantly impact your credibility with clients. Due to these potential problems, it’s critical that you work closely with your accounting and contracting departments, and check and double check any information that you’re entering or distributing.
It’s also a good idea to carefully check written materials to ensure that you’re communicating in a clear and professional manner.
4. Understand Federal Contracting
There are a lot of rules in federal contracting, from event spending regulations to per diem requirements. To avoid causing issues for your contracting officer and your own organization, it’s very important to understand and follow federal contracting regulations. Further, you should thoroughly review your specific federal contracts so that you know what FAR clauses and deliverables pertain to each project.
5. Use Appropriate File Structures and Templates
And finally, no matter how simple and straightforward a project seems, contract administration is bound to get complicated at some point, with multiple modifications, new task orders, or even new contracts issued. That’s why it is critical to properly organize and back up contract files, so that data is easy to find when needed. It is also important to utilize robust templates to track and analyze spending on labor hours and other direct costs. These tracking documents must be updated each month and should be regularly cross-referenced against your accounting or contracting department records.
While it can sometimes be difficult to consistently implement all five of these approaches due to time and resource constraints, it’s definitely worth the extra effort to ensure that you are providing the best possible service for your clients.
For more information on The Hannon Group and our experience supporting federal communications clients, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.