Integrators keep in step with new buying practices

Over the last several weeks four of the biggest information technology contractors in the federal market have moved to refine their business structures to respond to recent changes in how agencies are buying goods and services.

Boeing Information Services Computer Sciences Corp. Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Unisys Corp. have adjusted their business models in hopes of better managing - and leveraging - the swarm of governmentwide indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contracts that have been awarded during the last year.

In just the past nine months IDIQ services contracts worth more than $4 billion have been awarded. In contrast with past years when most IDIQ contracts were agency-specific contracts such as the National Institutes of Health's Chief Information Officer Solutions and Partners program (CIO-SP) and the Transportation Department's Information Technology Omnibus Procurement (ITOP) have put contractors in a position where they have multiple vehicles to offer any given customer and must work with dozens upon dozens of subcontractors.

Managing these contracts effectively to maintain a steady stream of work while avoiding duplication has become a top business priority. Boeing expects to issue more than 1 000 task-order proposals this year."The IDIQ multiple-award business has become a key part of our business " said Harold Olson vice president of Boeing's newly formed Professional Services unit. "We wanted to make sure we are nimble and agile enough&hellip to handle that kind of activity."

As they fine-tune their organ-izations integrators are taking a close look at marketing. Classic business development before the emergence of multiple-award IDIQs meant pursuing a few large typically single-award procurements. But today's IDIQ vehicles represent not a few buys but hundreds of mini-procurements. On IDIQs integrators bid for task orders under which they provide services.

Boeing's volume of task orders prompted the company to consolidate its stable of task-order vehicles into a single unit: Professional Services. That unit houses Boeing's work on the Defense Information Systems Agency's Defense Enterprise Integration Services DEIS II and Defense Information Systems Network Support Services-Global pacts as well as ITOP and CIO-SP among others.

The consolidation of IDIQ marketing and management in one group allows Boeing to "get rid of the stovepipes " Olson said. In the past each contract had its own sales and administrative personnel.

While Boeing has opted for a centralized approach CSC this month began reorganizing along more decentralized lines. The company had to evolve its structure as it moved from one large IDIQ - DEIS - to many. "With DEIS it was one contract and many customers " said Marco deVito vice president for Enterprise Integration Activity. "Now it's a many-to-many relationship. The complexity is higher and the challenges are therefore greater to coordinate the pieces."

CSC coordinates its marketing activities by having local managers rather than centralized groups responsible for maintaining relationships with customers. The local manager works with the customer to decide which contract is the "right match" and then taps the appropriate vehicle - or vehicles.

deVito noted that the U.S. European Command for example is working with CSC under DEIS the Federal Systems Integration and Management Center's Multiple-Award Indefinite-Quantity pact and the Defense Department's Modern Aids to Planning Program.

Matrixed Organization

The desire to use multiple contract vehicles to support a given customer has motivated some organizational tweaking at EDS' Military Systems unit which houses some of the company's large product and services contracts.

The company's IDIQ services contracts including DEIS II are housed in its Integration Services group while product buys such as the Navy's PC LAN+ are located in its End User Computing group. In an approach similar to CSC's EDS maintains customer relationships through groups targeting individual military services. Those groups in turn call upon the company's contract resources.

Those service-specific and contract groups have been in place for a time but EDS has undertaken an effort to create a matrixed organization in which the company draws upon its whole array of contracts to provide a solution. Maloy Jones vice president of Military Systems at EDS said the matrixed approach will help the company create "virtual programs" for customers. "The whole industry is having to become very matrixed " Jones said. "We all have to leverage our skill sets and knowledge."

Unisys Federal Systems Division this month is completing a reorganization in which the company has aligned its IDIQ contracts within its Information Engineering Services unit. The company's 14 IDIQ vehicles most of which are governmentwide include CIO-SP DEIS DEIS II and ITOP. The Unisys sales force can promote any of the company's contracts.

"You'd better be flexible enough to do what the customer wants" in terms of vehicles said Lee Cooper vice president of business development at Unisys Federal Systems Division.

To coordinate sales activities however Unisys uses an automated "lead-tracking system" to avoid knocking on the same door twice Cooper noted.

Agency executives said the government should benefit from working with contractors who have streamlined their operations.

This will be true especially when working with suppliers who have a mix of vehicles they can leverage with a given customer said Larry Core head of the Navy's Tactical Advanced Computer project office. "The concept they are trying to come up with is a solutions-based approach and not just providing commodities " Core said.

Contractors who understand the ins and outs of their various contract holdings will be in a better position to help agencies make smart buying decisions added Diane Litman the Transportation Department's program manager for ITOP.

All the same agencies still face a host of vendors looking for business because many newer contracts have such a large number of contractors said Paul Wohlleben CIO at the Environmental Protection Agency. "The choices the federal agency will have will be more varied " Wohlleben said. But "steering through that confusion to find the source of supply that's best for the agency" will not be easy he said.

Featured

  • IT Modernization
    Eisenhower Executive Office Building (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

    OMB's user guide to the MGT Act

    The Office of Management and Budget is working on a rules-of-the-road document to cover how agencies can seek and use funds under the MGT Act.

  • global network (Pushish Images/Shutterstock.com)

    As others see us -- a few surprises

    A recent dinner with civil servants from Asia delivered some interesting insights, Steve Kelman writes.

  • FCW Perspectives
    cloud (Singkham/Shutterstock.com)

    A smarter approach to cloud

    Advances in cloud technology are shifting the focus toward choosing the right tool for the job and crafting solutions that truly modernize systems.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.