Once you have identified a few candidates for teaming, you should investigate them further to learn more about their capabilities and intention for this pursuit.
Good teaming partners are like parking spaces in an office building’s parking lot. The closest ones to the building get taken by those diligent souls who arrive at work before 7 am and have half their day’s work done before their colleagues roll in at 9 am. If you are one of those people who come in after 9 am but before the lunch break has started or morning meetings have ended, you might have to circle around the lot to find the spot that’s furthest away from the door, the one that no one wanted.
The key to success is to start the teammate identification process early so that you don’t find yourself teaming in the 11th hour with companies that will bring you no closer to winning than bidding by yourself.
Your path of action is then to start a dialogue early with the most competitive companies to get them on your team. You can find contact information on their website and ask who is in charge of teaming for government contracts; use the number provided on FedBizOps in the interested vendors’ section, or look up their contact information on BGov, GovWin IQ, or Hoovers.com.
You will need to make a good case to them for why they should work with you as opposed to going after it on their own or with someone else, select a teaming strategy, and then negotiate their place on your team (or your place on theirs). You can then repeat the process with a few others if your first choice elects to be a competitor instead of a teammate. All of this takes time, and there are others lurking in your tracks, so these tasks are time-sensitive.
Companies often start this process a year or more prior to the RFP issuance. They seek to lock up the potential teammates that they are absolutely certain will help them win, so that they cannot go with others.
There are few reasons to wait on committing to a company. The main one is an uncertain government procurement strategy (not knowing, for example, if the government makes it an 8(a) set aside versus just a small business set aside or full and open competition). In that case, you might want to maintain a dialogue and work as if you were teammates toward the win, but have an out clause in case the government switches gears on you.
It is important to note that on many procurements, you can join a team after the contract is awarded, but don’t count on that as a major growth strategy, as it is much harder to arrange.
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