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Washington Technology has come out with a very interesting survey canvassing federal buyers, in their latest Insider Report: 2017 Trends in Government Purchasing (subscription required).
According to the report:
…Our annual report explores the many facets of the government procurement cycle including attitudes on the importance of technology and where decisions makers expect to direct their dollars. It is based on a survey of government executives across civilian and defense agencies. We’ve asked them about their priorities, buying habits and culture…
This excellent report focuses on technology purchases, and covers a vast array of different technologies and their expected trends in 2017. One of the key findings of the report is that no one is expecting an explosion in technology spending, as a vast majority of respondents felt that spending will remain flat, and that investments need to deliver tangible business results.
Some other important aspects of the survey:
What are the favored contracts for government buyers? Although federal buyers have a multitude of different vehicles to choose from in both the defense and civilain agencies, vendors should take note of the primary vehicles that these respondents identified.
Screen_Shot_2017-03-09_at_11_21_55_AM.pngWhat federal buyers value in service providers? Although multiple factors are involved in how federal buyers choose to evaluate service providers, the results are nonetheless interesting.

Screen_Shot_2017-03-09_at_11_26_53_AM.pngThese results should give suppliers an opportunity to differentiate themselves and their offerings, and to demonstrate the ability to deliver results through proven performance (i.e. flexibility and experience). However, it is interesting to note what exactly survey respondents defined as “Experience”. The reason why this matters is perception, in that innovative small businesses may have excellent flexibility, but may be either new to the federal market, or need teaming partners with established brand recognition. 
Many federal buyers would like innovation, but that may require taking risks on new entrants. Therefore, these results demonstrate the possible paradigm shift that needs to happen, in that smaller, newer firms may be at a disadvantage.
Communications and collaboration with industry. Although the survey respondents noted some improvements in their ability to interact with industry, nonetheless the results are disappointing to say the least. 
Screen_Shot_2017-03-09_at_11_33_55_AM.pngPerhaps the “Mythbusters” initiative by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy needs a refresh, as these results continue to demonstrate barriers to entry, and significant challenges firms must overcome to get access to federal buyers, and build important connections and relationships with these federal buyers. 
Understanding what your customer values is an important step to succeed in government contracting. Demonstrating this value, and differentiating your offerings, are also critical. These surveys are important tools to gain foundational knowledge, and to provide a roadmap on how and where to be successful in the competitive federal IT market.
Questions for industry:
1) What trends are you seeing in the market?
2) Do you feel that selling to the federal government will be harder, easier, or about the same?
3) What do you think are success factors based on these survey results?
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