Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Planning Ahead

The start of the fiscal year is a stressful time for federal agencies and businesses alike. Despite this, as we close out FY13, I’d like to stress to all businesses who hope to do work with not just NASA, but any agency, to not let your plans for the future start to slip. One point I make at every speaking engagement or counseling session for businesses is that you must do your homework and plan ahead. Some businesses see this as a cursory glance of upcoming procurements a few months before they are released; however, to be successful, planning must start up to years before that point.

It is necessary to know what is happening in your realm of business before opportunities are posted in the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) database. By then, for many, it’s too late to seriously compete. NASA offers multiple avenues to get information regarding upcoming procurements. First and foremost, networking is essential any small business into opportunities with plenty of time to prepare. This includes events that NASA holds regularly, such as our Industry Days, or events that are attended by federal agencies. Business to business networking is a great way to share information and potentially come up with teaming or subcontracting opportunities that may not have been on your radar.

Another, NASA specific avenue is the NASA Acquisition Internet Service (NAIS). NAIS posts competitive NASA acquisitions over $25,000 that businesses can sort by date, classification, location or key word. The NASA Consolidated Acquisition Forecast also provides a forecast for this fiscal year and upcoming fiscal years directly from the centers. This will provide even more time to being planning for upcoming acquisitions.

NASA has built one of the greatest small business teams in federal government, with the Small Business Specialists providing valuable information. If any small business has a question regarding a specific opportunity at a NASA center, these individuals provide a great first contact to learn more about the acquisition.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Small Business Elevator Pitch

Representatives from the NASA of Small Business Programs and the NASA Small Business Specialists attend and hold events regularly to interact with small businesses directly. This is an invaluable avenue for small businesses to pitch their companies and find out about potential opportunities. Whether it is NASA, another federal agency or private industries, never approach with the mindset of what can you do for me. I recommend that all representatives of small business have an “elevator pitch” prepared to describe their company’s product or service, and what it can offer a potential client, in a clear and concise way.

It doesn’t matter if it’s in a literal elevator or at a crowded conference booth, the clearer you can be about your business, the better counseling our small business team can provide. The elevator pitch is a simple idea. You should be able to accurately and clearly describe what your company does and what value it provides in less than two minutes – about the time it takes for a long elevator ride.

For example, in your pitch, mention where your company is located. If you’re an IT company, specify what field of IT or what specialty your company has. Have you previously done work with NASA, and if so, where and doing what? Make sure you give enough information without going overboard and overstating what it is you do. It is important to keep it fluid and able to be adjusted to the intended audience - you may have a different service to offer NASA than DoD. Remember, at may of these events, representatives at booths talk to potentially hundreds of businesses, you want to stand out quickly and concisely.

A significant amount of information is available online regarding this topic. Take your time and practice your pitch before your next event. It may mean a new contract for you and your team.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Updated Acquisition Forecast

At every opportunity with small businesses, I emphasize one of NASA’s best practices, the Consolidated Acquisition Forecast. We are excited to announce that, as of September 2013, the forecast has undergone an update with valuable new information.

I discussed at length during the last format update what was included in this powerful tool. For those unaware, it is NASA policy to put together a forecast of expected contracting opportunities for each fiscal year. This forecast is updated semiannually. We have taken advantage of Microsoft Excel’s pivot table feature to make this quick and easy to use tool for large and small businesses alike to plan ahead for procurement opportunities. 

As I’ve said before, the Acquisition Forecast can always be found at or NASA's Office of Procurement and OSBP websites. We’re always looking to improve on ways to reach small businesses. The Acquisition forecast is a great way to view upcoming procurements, but if you have a suggestion on how we can make it even better, feel free to comment.