Take a peek into the pipeline of most contractors, and you’ll find a long list of opportunities initially published on SAM.gov. Ask most contractors where to find opportunities, and with few exceptions, they will directly or indirectly point to SAM.gov. Since the inception of FedBizOpps, more commonly known as FBO, it has represented the primary pipeline source for most contractors. In a market saturated with acronyms, few rose to the prominence of FBO. SAM.gov recently consumed FBO and a favorite acronym was lost to government innovation. Though the sway of the old URL is on full display as many still refer to their source of opportunities as FBO rather than accepting a new acronym.
Whether monitoring SAM.gov directly or using a third-party provider, the level of dependence verges on obsession for many contractors.
Where to Find Your Opportunities
Over the last decade, a challenge to this dependence has slowly emerged within the market. Though accepted practices and comfort have left many wearing blinders, market realities are rapidly changing. Simply diverting one’s attention to this new source is not sufficient as acknowledging the shifting landscape does little to prepare a company to thrive in the face of change. A fixation on SAM.gov means accepting and practicing processes, culture, and decision-making that are quickly becoming antiquated.
Many Information Technology contractors subscribe to the notion that SAM.gov represents a significant portion of federal IT spending. In reality, only one out of every ten IT dollars goes through SAM.gov. Even on the professional services side, SAM.gov represents a dwindling share of spending. Task order vehicles have become the preferred method of procuring IT and professional services. With three new GWACs coming online over the next several years and GSA at work on their latest professional services vehicle, the appetite for task orders will only grow.
Perception is the primary challenge for those loyal to SAM.gov. They filter out the noise and only see what interests them. A viewpoint that obscures seeing the whole picture, how the government uses SAM.gov. Explore every opportunity released every day, and a theme quickly emerges, a limited number of IT and professional services opportunities lost in a sea of construction, shipbuilding, repair, facilities support, and commodity purchases. Compare the monthly activity of SAM.gov to the second-tier task order competitions, and there is no comparison.
Finding Success as a Contractor
Antiquated ways of thinking will continue to make SAM.gov relevant, but this is divorced from reality. Analyze successful contractors of every size and you’ll find a common attribute, SAM.gov (or definitive contracts) represents a small portion of their total revenue. Those contractors have already adapted and are defining and sharpening the processes, culture, and decision-making required to succeed on contract vehicles. Those still reliant on SAM.gov are left to fight for a steadily decreasing number of opportunities.
Federal customers have numerous options to fulfill nearly every requirement. Many contractors sit and react to SAM.gov; this new landscape requires a new set of skills, including predicting customer actions, leveraging teaming relationships, and proactively shaping opportunities. At the heart of this shift, process remains a necessity, though unlike the slow pace of SAM.gov opportunities, task order opportunities move at lightning speed. The ability to manage a fast-moving pipeline requires a greater level of collaboration, communication, and tools to make decisions in real-time.
The benefit of FBO or SAM.gov was the predictability offered by total transparency and a single point of competition. As customers continue to migrate to task orders, clarity diminishes the number of competitors, and pathways exponentially increase. Without the proper insights, contractors often become victims of this environment and join the overwhelming number of contractors who fail to turn their seats at the table into revenue.
In turn, many will continue to operate like it is 2010. However, there is no escaping reality; the world is changing if you’re dependent on SAM.gov, then you’re simply looking in the wrong place.
To equip your business for this environment, see why so many contractors are choosing Federal Compass to fill their pipelines and leverage our collaborative and interactive environment to establish the necessary processes to win in this new environment.