Improving Market Research

I have talked to several contracting officers recently who are frustrated at the lack of response from small businesses when they do RFIs for a potential set aside, especially for SDVOSBs/VOSBs at the VA.

Although this is an issue across government, how can this be improved from both the sides?

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Jaime Gracia
President & CEO
Seville Government Consulting
jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
(202) 716-0122
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0

Replies

  1. Great feedback @Michele Clark Jenkins​.  I think this is good guidance for other small businesses as well as for government on how to get others to response.

    ——————————
    Raj Sharma
    Public Spend Forum
    Washington DC
    ——————————
    ——————————————-
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-26-2017 11:11
    From: Michele Clark Jenkins
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    We are a small firm whose revenue relies on government contracts.┬á We respond to RFIs when we are confident that an actual RFP will follow because RFIs will help shape the RFP in a way that we can efficiently respond.┬á However, many times the RFIs are overly complicated and require every question be answered with very indepth responses.┬á We’ve even had RFIs that want us to be bound to how we respond and that ask for financials.┬á We don’t respond to those.┬á Just like everything else we have to see a reason to respond and a benefit to our firm.┬á Creators of RFIs should focus on asking what they really need to know and not make RFIs a hodge-podge of questions.

    ——————————
    Michele Clark Jenkins
    Sr. Director, Consulting Group
    Griffin & Strong, P.C. (Atlanta)
    ——————————

    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-13-2017 13:51
    From: Jaime Gracia
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I have talked to several contracting officers recently who are frustrated at the lack of response from small businesses when they do RFIs for a potential set aside, especially for SDVOSBs/VOSBs at the VA.

    Although this is an issue across government, how can this be improved from both the sides?

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    President & CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————

    0
  2. The “black hole” approach is one of the biggest issues with this entire process, and usually no one knows whatever became of responses. Further, RFIs tend to be used as a box-checking exercise.

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————
    ——————————————-
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-14-2017 12:59
    From: Spence Witten
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    Interesting topic. Truthfully I hate RFIs. With a passion. I consider them pretty disrespectful on the Government’s part, with us preparing documents that sometimes match the complexity of full proposals to, in essence, do the Government’s market research for them. In the 100+ I’ve responded to in my career I can count on one hand the ones that were worth the ROI. And I have a number of documented cases where I know the Government received a number of excellent responses from capable small businesses and yet ignored them.

    SO I’ve instituted a corporate policy at my SDVOSB to never respond to an RFI. unless A) a valued customer asks us to specifically or B) if the opportunity will be restricted only to RFI respondents. I know at least a dozen other small businesses that have done the same.

    What would make me change this policy? The following:

    1. Some transparency into the process, with respondents getting some notification from the Government as to the how many small businesses responded and what the Government generally thinks about the responses it has received. 
    2. The opportunity for dialogue with the Government following submission. 
    3. More opportunities restricted only to RFI respondants. 
    4. Streamlined response processes. 

    Until then, I will continue to refuse to respond to RFIs and will be better off for it.

    ——————————
    Spence Witten
    Director of Federal Sales
    Lunarline
    ——————————

    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-13-2017 13:51
    From: Jaime Gracia
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I have talked to several contracting officers recently who are frustrated at the lack of response from small businesses when they do RFIs for a potential set aside, especially for SDVOSBs/VOSBs at the VA.

    Although this is an issue across government, how can this be improved from both the sides?

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    President & CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————

    0
  3. We are a small firm whose revenue relies on government contracts.┬á We respond to RFIs when we are confident that an actual RFP will follow because RFIs will help shape the RFP in a way that we can efficiently respond.┬á However, many times the RFIs are overly complicated and require every question be answered with very indepth responses.┬á We’ve even had RFIs that want us to be bound to how we respond and that ask for financials.┬á We don’t respond to those.┬á Just like everything else we have to see a reason to respond and a benefit to our firm.┬á Creators of RFIs should focus on asking what they really need to know and not make RFIs a hodge-podge of questions.

    ——————————
    Michele Clark Jenkins
    Sr. Director, Consulting Group
    Griffin & Strong, P.C. (Atlanta)
    ——————————
    ——————————————-
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-13-2017 13:51
    From: Jaime Gracia
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I have talked to several contracting officers recently who are frustrated at the lack of response from small businesses when they do RFIs for a potential set aside, especially for SDVOSBs/VOSBs at the VA.

    Although this is an issue across government, how can this be improved from both the sides?

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    President & CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————

    0
  4. Great discussion!┬á I agree with many of the points made here.┬á I think RFIs like a lot of market research is done without a lot of thought. My advice, through a training i’ve done before is the following:

    • First and foremost, government needs to do its homework before every putting out an RFI.┬á Government needs to make sure it understands its needs and the relevant market and then has done enough research to understand the supplier base, capabilitties etc.
    • Only then can an RFI be used, if at all.┬á It should be used to “fill in the holes” or ask clarifying questions that may have not been clear through the initial market research.┬á If governmetn is relying on the RFI do its work, then it will only get vendor biased information, not objective.┬á But if specific questions are asked, (e.g. what is the standard for on time delivery), you will get more clarification that will help both government and suppliers (if incorproated).
    • There’s a lot more advice here that we can put forward through a market analysis training.┬á Frank, let’s make that happen!

    Raj

    ——————————
    Raj Sharma, Chairman and CEO
    Public Spend Forum
    Washington DC
    ——————————
    ——————————————-
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-19-2017 18:36
    From: Jaime Gracia
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I always found that the RFI is being used for market research, so a need is being identified, as is the buying agency. Building relationships is a usually better investment on precious B&P dollars.

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————

    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-19-2017 14:08
    From: john brooks
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I am a sole proprietorship international procurement consultant based in Canada. The reaction of US MSMEs  is not unique.  Time and cost limit participation in opportunities that likely only have limited chance of return. Many RFIs are far too complicated. 

    ——————————
    john brooks
    ANJO Global Consulting Ltd

    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-13-2017 13:51
    From: Jaime Gracia
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I have talked to several contracting officers recently who are frustrated at the lack of response from small businesses when they do RFIs for a potential set aside, especially for SDVOSBs/VOSBs at the VA.

    Although this is an issue across government, how can this be improved from both the sides?

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    President & CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————

    0
  5. I always found that the RFI is being used for market research, so a need is being identified, as is the buying agency. Building relationships is a usually better investment on precious B&P dollars.

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————
    ——————————————-
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-19-2017 14:08
    From: john brooks
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I am a sole proprietorship international procurement consultant based in Canada. The reaction of US MSMEs  is not unique.  Time and cost limit participation in opportunities that likely only have limited chance of return. Many RFIs are far too complicated. 

    ——————————
    john brooks
    ANJO Global Consulting Ltd
    ——————————

    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-13-2017 13:51
    From: Jaime Gracia
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I have talked to several contracting officers recently who are frustrated at the lack of response from small businesses when they do RFIs for a potential set aside, especially for SDVOSBs/VOSBs at the VA.

    Although this is an issue across government, how can this be improved from both the sides?

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    President & CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————

    0
  6. I am a sole proprietorship international procurement consultant based in Canada. The reaction of US MSMEs  is not unique.  Time and cost limit participation in opportunities that likely only have limited chance of return. Many RFIs are far too complicated. 

    ——————————
    john brooks
    ANJO Global Consulting Ltd
    ——————————
    ——————————————-
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-13-2017 13:51
    From: Jaime Gracia
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I have talked to several contracting officers recently who are frustrated at the lack of response from small businesses when they do RFIs for a potential set aside, especially for SDVOSBs/VOSBs at the VA.

    Although this is an issue across government, how can this be improved from both the sides?

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    President & CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————

    0
  7. Interesting take on RFIs. In my state experience, I always thought RFIs had marginal utility, partly because responses were publicly available. Colorado just passed a statutory change that permits some extension of confidentiality to market research communications. 

    Some public entities use the RFI as a precursor to one-on-one supplier market research meetings, that I found more useful. There is some fear of running afoul of organizational conflict of interest policies, as when a supplier assists in writing requirements. I always thought that concern was a bit overstated where agencies are asking questions calculated to keep up with changes in the market from a variety of suppliers, and not having them draft requirements. Questions like: What should be the evaluated differentiators? ┬áWhat in your judgment was a good RFP, one that you didn’t get the award on? ┬áWhat are current warranty practices? ┬áWhat are Ts and Cs show-stoppers for you? What ideas do you have for permitting technology refreshes in the context of public completion rules and some constraints on scope changes? ┬áThese questions Illiminate later pain points, issues that can safely be addressed in an RFI-introduced Q&A with suppliers one-on-one.┬á

    Goo discussion.

    ——————————
    Richard Pennington
    General Counsel
    NASPO ValuePoint
    Glendale CO
    ——————————
    ——————————————-
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-14-2017 12:59
    From: Spence Witten
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    Interesting topic. Truthfully I hate RFIs. With a passion. I consider them pretty disrespectful on the Government’s part, with us preparing documents that sometimes match the complexity of full proposals to, in essence, do the Government’s market research for them. In the 100+ I’ve responded to in my career I can count on one hand the ones that were worth the ROI. And I have a number of documented cases where I know the Government received a number of excellent responses from capable small businesses and yet ignored them.

    SO I’ve instituted a corporate policy at my SDVOSB to never respond to an RFI. unless A) a valued customer asks us to specifically or B) if the opportunity will be restricted only to RFI respondents. I know at least a dozen other small businesses that have done the same.

    What would make me change this policy? The following:

    1. Some transparency into the process, with respondents getting some notification from the Government as to the how many small businesses responded and what the Government generally thinks about the responses it has received. 
    2. The opportunity for dialogue with the Government following submission. 
    3. More opportunities restricted only to RFI respondants. 
    4. Streamlined response processes. 

    Until then, I will continue to refuse to respond to RFIs and will be better off for it.

    ——————————
    Spence Witten
    Director of Federal Sales
    Lunarline
    ——————————

    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-13-2017 13:51
    From: Jaime Gracia
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I have talked to several contracting officers recently who are frustrated at the lack of response from small businesses when they do RFIs for a potential set aside, especially for SDVOSBs/VOSBs at the VA.

    Although this is an issue across government, how can this be improved from both the sides?

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    President & CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————

    0
  8. Interesting topic. Truthfully I hate RFIs. With a passion. I consider them pretty disrespectful on the Government’s part, with us preparing documents that sometimes match the complexity of full proposals to, in essence, do the Government’s market research for them. In the 100+ I’ve responded to in my career I can count on one hand the ones that were worth the ROI. And I have a number of documented cases where I know the Government received a number of excellent responses from capable small businesses and yet ignored them.┬á ┬á

    SO I’ve instituted a corporate policy at my SDVOSB to never respond to an RFI. unless A) a valued customer asks us to specifically or B) if the opportunity will be restricted only to RFI respondents. I know at least a dozen other small businesses that have done the same.┬á

    What would make me change this policy? The following:  

    1. Some transparency into the process, with respondents getting some notification from the Government as to the how many small businesses responded and what the Government generally thinks about the responses it has received. 
    2. The opportunity for dialogue with the Government following submission. 
    3. More opportunities restricted only to RFI respondants. 
    4. Streamlined response processes. 

    Until then, I will continue to refuse to respond to RFIs and will be better off for it.

    ——————————
    Spence Witten
    Director of Federal Sales
    Lunarline
    ——————————
    ——————————————-
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-13-2017 13:51
    From: Jaime Gracia
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I have talked to several contracting officers recently who are frustrated at the lack of response from small businesses when they do RFIs for a potential set aside, especially for SDVOSBs/VOSBs at the VA.

    Although this is an issue across government, how can this be improved from both the sides?

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    President & CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————

    0
  9. Finding qualified small and disadvantaged businesses isn’t an unusual problem in my experience.┬á Here’s an idea.

    I used to be on the board of directors for the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center.  The Procurement Technical Assistance Program administered by the United States Defense Logistics Agency is aimed at improving the supplier industrial base for DoD contracting, but the PTAC programs also include free counseling for businesses in state, local government, and other federal procurement/government contracting space.  When I was with the Colorado PTAC, I found it a rich opportunity for reaching out to small, disadvantaged, and veterans-owned businesses.  Sometimes PTAC was able to connect them with more experienced prime contractors who often are the best avenue for entry in the public procurement.  

    At my last count, all states had at least one PTAC.  The national association website is at http://www.aptac-us.org/.  Their map shows all the PTACs. See if those organizations can help.

    ——————————
    Richard Pennington
    General Counsel
    NASPO ValuePoint
    Glendale CO
    ——————————
    ——————————————-
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-13-2017 13:51
    From: Jaime Gracia
    Subject: Improving Market Research

    I have talked to several contracting officers recently who are frustrated at the lack of response from small businesses when they do RFIs for a potential set aside, especially for SDVOSBs/VOSBs at the VA.

    Although this is an issue across government, how can this be improved from both the sides?

    ——————————
    Jaime Gracia
    President & CEO
    Seville Government Consulting
    jgracia@sevillegovcon.com
    (202) 716-0122
    ——————————

    0
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