Top 5 Challenges in a Successful Project Start-up

Congratulations, you are a project manager! You have the best job in the world, and one of the hardest. Whether this is a new contract and you are the first project manager, or it is existing work and you must conduct a transition, an effective start-up strategy will lay the foundation for success over the entire project life. Why not take advantage of the experience of other project managers? At XPRT we have managed dozens of projects/programs for U.S. federal government, state governments, commercial, and international customers, and for development and services projects.  Our domain knowledge includes such diverse projects as: manufacturing weapon systems; remediating nuclear waste sites; developing, maintaining, and modernizing IT systems; and integrating multiple operations following mergers and acquisitions.

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Strategic Planning - Part I

To start a business — and to stay in business and grow — every company has to have a strategy. Some are simple and easily stated, others are complex and take months of careful thought, planning, writing, and rewriting. Some strategies are instantly successful. Others are plagued by underperformance, whether due to a poor economy, ruthless competitors, failure to establish the necessary customer base, or simply poor execution.

Bottom line? Achieving successful outcomes can be a challenge to both new and established businesses.

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Managing Virtual Teams for Success

Virtual teams—teams whose members are not physically co-located—perform a wide range of tasks and produce a variety of work products. When your team is virtual, team members may be in different states or even different countries. Members of virtual teams interface electronically instead of face-to-face. Whether your team is working on a project, developing a proposal, or reviewing a document, managing people whom you seldom (or never) see can be challenging. To successfully manage virtual teams, focus on the fundamentals: tools, processes, and people.

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How to Develop a Good Capture Plan, Part 1

Your company has just identified a future program that it wants to win, and you have been named Capture Manager. Congratulations!

Now what?

Your first step, and one of your most important responsibilities as capture manager, is to develop your capture plan. Typically documented in briefing (PowerPoint) form, a well-thought-out capture plan is a living document that will enable informed decision-making at all levels of the organization, throughout the business development process—and increase your probability of winning. Whether you are pursuing Federal, state/local, commercial, or international business, you need a capture plan for every opportunity.

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How to Develop a Good Capture Plan—Part 2

In Part 1, we discussed the importance of the capture plan, and how it is used in decision-making and work products development throughout the capture, proposal, and post-submittal phases.  The summary figure at right shows the decision gates and milestones that depend on the information in the capture plan and the ongoing capture activities that continue throughout the business development process, right up to contract award.

Now let’s walk through the three questions that you must answer to develop a good capture plan—one that is complete, useful to the business development/proposal teams, and effective in helping you win.

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Secrets of Successful Color Team Reviews

Proposal reviews are critical to writing a winning proposal and difficult to do well. Review teams must be correctly staffed, well organized, and carefully managed to help the writing team improve the proposal’s evaluation score. This paper discusses the standard color review teams; identifies characteristics of good color review teams; and exposes key pitfalls to avoid in staffing, preparing, and conducting successful color team reviews.

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Lessons Learned From Government Service: A Consultant’s Perspective

When government officials complete their service, it is not uncommon to enter the private sector as a consultant. As part of its support to clients who seek work with the federal government, XPRT has engaged former government officials in various capacities: as a Subject Matter Expert (SME), to assist with capture strategy and compliance assessment, and as writers in support of proposals.  The insights gained from government service can be invaluable to clients, giving them the perspective of the very client from whom they are seeking work.

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Mergers and Acquisitions: The Formula for Successful Integration

Businesses grow and expand both organically and through mergers of similar sized companies, acquisitions of smaller companies, and integration of varying business units. Imagine that your company has spent a significant amount of management time and money to acquire a company, or to combine and integrate two different business units. You made the decision consistent with your long term goals and strategy. You’ve done the due diligence, determined the financial consequences, and negotiated the terms of the deal. Still, at the end of the first year of combined operations, the numbers don’t turn out as expected, and you’ve lost key personnel who delivered positive results in the past. What went wrong?

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Making the Pitch: The Art of Presenting

Here’s the scenario: you and your team have prepared the perfect document, and you know exactly what needs to be done. The only hurdle is the presentation to the decision-maker (e.g., your Board of Directors, the Contracting Officer, or the client you have been pursuing for months). The road to success is paved with potential pitfalls—timing constraints, limitations on what you can present, the personality of the decision-maker, the challenge of capturing your key messages succinctly, and competing interests that could derail the solution you recommend.

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Understanding the US Government Ethics Requirements

In the aftermath of scandals such as GCO’s conflict of interest and federal officials’ preferential treatment and gratuities, there has been increased focus on ethics in Federal Government contracting. Some of these ethics violations led to criminal sentences, debarment, and enhanced accounting and legal requirements such as Sarbanes Oxley. Examples of ethics violations include bribery, unresolved conflicts of interest, and false claims.

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