- Lay the groundwork
Successful teaming occurs long before a solicitation is formally published. Many business owners lay the groundwork for alliances and team arrangements by attending networking events, conferences or local city council meetings. Others get acquainted through business associations and publications, or through online message boards and forums. By the time a contract solicitation is published, there may not be enough time to find a potential partner, build an effective relationship, agree to all the terms and write a winning proposal.
- Screen potential partners
Be sure to conduct a thorough background check on any potential business partner. Exchange financial information (sign a confidentiality agreement first) and talk to their references. You also can check their financial information, payment history and business scores with one of the business information services that track this information.
- Choose a partner with complementary services
Synergy is key. Having complementary products or services— an example would be, you’re good at products, while your potential business partner specializes in services—this will mutually beneficial. As you develop these relationships, your partners may find other projects for you to collaborate on, and vice versa.
- Start small
It would be best for you and a potential partner to work together on two or three smaller government bids before going after large contracts. By doing this, both parties learn about each other’s business structure and habits, as well as the personalities of those involved and the other company’s culture. It also helps you work out the kinks in the relationship and develop procedures that make the joint operation run smoothly. This will also help give you a track record, which will help when submitting proposals to other agencies.
- Put everything in writing
Once you and your potential partner have decided to work together and have identified a target contract, put the details in writing, including objectives, deadlines, tasks and responsibilities, making each as quantifiable as possible. Your businesses will have many conversations over time, so you don’t want to rely on verbal communications when it comes to responsibilities and accountability for deliverables. You’ll also need to draft a teaming agreement for the bid. It should cover everything from when the project begins and ends to how the parties will be paid. To ensure that your rights are protected, it’s wise to run any agreement by your legal counsel and accountant before signing. Both parties should sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect any private information within the contract.
The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s GovCon Initiative mission: We strive to create lasting relationships and teaming opportunities within the local government contracting community in Loudoun County. This initiative committee meets monthly to lead the creation of these opportunities through their series of events, connecting, and matchmaking services.