SEWP V Goes Through Smooth Transition

There are always concerns when going through the transition from the current iteration of a successful program to the next. During the move from SEWP IV to SEWP V, there were several things that caused particular concern.

For example, the number of contract holders quadrupled. SEWP IV ended with 38 contractors on board, while SEWP V is currently at 145. Considering the increase in new companies that had to be familiarized with the contract and how it operated, along with potentially thousands of new sources of products and technologies, there were understandable doubts.

The transition in the end turned out to be “amazingly smooth,” says Joanne Woytek, SEWP’s program manager. “If I was asked for a prediction, I would have expected a two-to-six month time period of getting companies up and running, putting new processes in place and being able to better service the customer. Instead, within one month all companies were up and running, and within six months all but two companies received at least one order.”

Vendors had a similar experience, says Carroll Genovese, program manager for the SEWP V contract at CDW-G. This was thanks to some forward thinking on the part of the SEWP program office. While SEWP IV was still active, the office came with a “SEWP IV enhanced” version that implemented some of the new processes that would be on SEWP V.

“That essentially provided a 4-to-5 month transition for SEWP IV contract holders into SEWP V, says Genovese. “For the incumbent contractors, it was a really smooth transition and we were not really affected.”

The SEWP staff was already at work planning for the expansion. “We planned SEWP V from a process and staff point of view knowing there would be a large increase of companies,“ says Woytek. “While still stressful, the changes have proven beneficial in allowing us to not only keep up but even improve our responsiveness in all areas of interaction.”

Another concern is the sheer increase in anticipated demand, and how the program office will handle that. SEWP IV reportedly doubled the amount of business it did as compared to the previous version. And that could be a lowball figure for SEWP V. Woytek says her personal goal is for SEWP V to grow by 25 percent in the current year. That’s something she thinks is “well within reach,” and to double total business over the next two years.

Managing that level of business growth, with the relatively small number of people Woytek has available to her in the program office, is “pretty shocking,” says Genovese. It’s understandable given the fact SEWP V’s .39 percent fee is one of the lowest of all government contract. That points to the kind of work the program office has to perform to handle the business.

“The fee on a $100,000 order is just $388, and the customer gets a lot for that,” he says. “The program office takes care of a lot of the leg work, so the customers don’t have to do a lot of that stuff themselves.”

As proof for how successful the transition has been so far, Woytek points to the non-response rate to RFQs in SEWP IV, which finished in the 17-20 percent range. So far, she and her staff have cut that in half to 8-10 percent. They have also brought the average response per request up to around five companies.

“That’s one area that concerned me in SEWP IV,” she says, “and why I wanted more (contract holders) in SEWP V.”